Creamy Lemon Orzo Risotto with Chicken

Creamy Lemon Orzo Risotto with Chicken

Wowwee, wow, wowwzers, wow!

That is what went through my head when tasting Creamy Lemon Orzo Risotto with Chicken. So, so pleased with myself for putting this lovely dish together.

The flavor is very different than anything on my regular menu at home. My mouth was so happy with it’s tangy, creamy, lemony combination.

And, besides being insanely decadent and creamy and delicious, it’s actually pretty good for you, too. And, it’s easy and much quicker than traditional risotto. Like I said, “Wow!”

Jessica Seinfeld is the inspiring cook for this one. I’ve been making my way through her latest cookbook Double Delicious!: Good, Simple Food for Busy, Complicated Lives.

I was all set to make Jessica’s Orzo Risotto with Chicken. I was not going to mess with the recipe at all….honest! But then Twitter delivered a similar recipe on a food blog I follow.  I couldn’t resist marrying the two recipes.

And then “wow” happened!

Ingredients List

Serves 4-6

  • 1 1/2 cup orzo pasta
  • 2 lbs boneless chicken thighs (cut into 1-inch pieces)
  • 3/4 tsp smoked paprika + more for later
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups cauliflower, cut into flowerets
  • 1 small yellow onion, cut into quarters
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1/2 bunch of asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup low-fat chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup vermouth (could substitute dry white wine)
  • 1 large lemon, zest and juice
  • 3 ounces low-fat cream cheese
  • 1/3 cup Parmesan


Cook orzo 5 minutes less than according to package directions. If you buy in bulk like me, I boiled the orzo for 5 minutes. Drain and set aside.

In a microwave safe container, heat cauliflower and two tablespoons of water on high until pieces are easily pierced with a fork. My microwave has a “fresh vegetable” setting and that worked perfectly. Set aside to cool.

In a large skillet, heat 1 Tbsp of olive oil over high heat. Once hot, place chicken pieces evenly in the pan. Sprinkle with half of the paprika and then salt and pepper to taste. Allow pieces to brown, then flip them over with a spatula. Sprinkle more paprika and salt and pepper. Allow to cook until all chicken is browned and cooked through. It should break apart easily with a spatula. Remove chicken pieces to a bowl but leave drippings in the pan and reduce heat.

While the chicken is cooking, put onion, garlic and cauliflower in a food processor or blender. Pulse until cauliflower looks puréed and onions and garlic are finely chopped.

If you opt for chicken breast meat then you should add one tablespoon of olive oil to the pan. If you use thigh meat then you probably have plenty of oil in the pan already.

Add the cauliflower mixture to pan and saute for about 5 minutes to soften onions.

Stir in the orzo, chicken, asparagus pieces, chicken broth, vermouth, lemon zest, cream cheese and Parmesan. Stir gently over low heat until cheeses are melted and the mixture is creamy. I recommend cutting the cream cheese in small pieces to help it melt faster.

Turn off the heat, squeeze the lemon juice over the dish, stir one more time, and sprinkle with a little more paprika for color.





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