Pesto Orzo with Chicken

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I've said it before, and I'll keep saying it, pesto is my favorite sauce. It's so versatile and can be used in so many different ways. From sandwiches to pasta, like my cheesy pesto tortellini bake or this delicious pesto shrimp pasta, there's a lot of reasons why pesto is amazing and different uses for it. This pesto orzo with chicken is no exception. It's easy to make, prep, and have for the week! Let's dig in.

Pesto orzo with chicken

Pesto is traditionally made with basil, oil, pine nuts (or pignoli), parmesan cheese, and garlic. There are so many versions out there that differ slightly from the classic, including my nut-free homemade pesto, but with this particular recipe, we use straight up jarred pesto, because sometimes we need recipes that come together in a snap.

What do I do with pesto?

Pesto can be used in a variety of different ways, such as:

  • Pastas
  • Salads
  • Sandwiches
  • As a marinade for poultry, fish, etc.

It can also be frozen if you've made too much. Every summer, my aunt grows a ton of basil, and makes batches of pesto all the time. I take most of it and freeze in ice cube containers, knowing that I have the perfect portion of pesto ready to pop out of the freezer for any recipe I need. It's brilliant!

Kitchen tools

For this recipe, you only need a few hand items from start to finish.

  • Medium pot: This is for the orzo, you'll boil it as per the directions on the bag
  • Large pan: I use my always pan by Our Place a lot, so this worked great for cooking the chicken.
  • Cutting board: To cut the chicken into cubes. If you desire, you can cut the chicken into thin strips.
  • Sharp slicing knife: This helps when cutting the chicken into the cubes
  • Mesh Strainer: You'll drain the orzo and add the orzo directly to the kitchen in the pan. I like using a handheld strainer for the orzo so none of the pasta falls through the large holes.

Ingredients

When I say this recipe is easy, it is truly very easy. You only need five, mayyyyybe six, ingredients and you're eating in no time

  • Chicken: Boneless, skinless chicken breast is what I used for this dish.
  • Pesto: Jarred works great! If you're looking for nut free, you can make my recipe
  • Orzo: I love using Delallo or Barilla orzo, but you can easily find a favorite at any grocery store!
  • Adobo seasoning: I seasoned the chicken with adobo as it gives a great depth of flavor.
  • Olive Oil: We need the olive oil to cook the chicken.

Directions

The directions for this pesto orzo recipe could not get any simpler. This will be on rotation every week because of how approachable this recipe is for a busy week, especially when you've got kiddos or a jam packed week full of meetings and events!

  • In a medium sized pot, boil water and cook the orzo as per package instructions
  • Meanwhile, take the cubed chicken and toss with the adobo. Add the chicken a skillet on a medium flame with olive oil.
  • Let the chicken cook until there is no more pink. Season with a touch of salt and pepper.
  • Once the orzo is finished cooking, drain and add the orzo directly to the pan with chicken.
  • Dollop a few spoonfuls of the pesto into the pan then stir to coat the pasta and the chicken, adding more if you desire a stronger pesto flavor.
  • Option to grate fresh parmesan cheese on top, and serve.

Swaps and Tips

I don't really like chicken, can I use something else?

If you're not a big poultry fan, swap for some seafood such as shrimp, salmon, or even scallops!

I'm not into meat or seafood (or cheese), can I make this vegan?

You sure can. Toss some finely chopped peppers, onion, some corn, and peas into a large pan with olive oil and sauté until fragrant. Toss together with the orzo and the pesto (you can make my recipe but substitute the cheese with nutritional yeast), and you've got a veggie-packed, nutritious dinner.

Hungry for more?

Looking for more easy meals, you've got to check these recipes out:

Pesto Orzo with Chicken

If you're looking for a show-stopping dinner that doubles as a lunch, and takes less than 30 minutes to make, this dish is meant for you! Pesto orzo with chicken couldn't be any easier than five ingredients, including jarred pesto. Take the guess work out of this delicious meal each and every time!

Author:
Morgan

Ingredients

  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed
  • 2 tbsp adobo seasoning
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 jar pesto
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat orzo
  • Optional parmesan cheese

Instructions

  • In a medium sized pot, boil water and cook the orzo as per package instructions
  • Meanwhile, take the cubed chicken and toss with the adobo. Add the chicken a skillet on a medium flame with olive oil.
  • Let the chicken cook until there is no more pink. Season with a touch of salt and pepper.
  • Once the orzo is finished cooking, drain and add the orzo directly to the pan with chicken.
  • Dollop a few spoonfuls of the pesto into the pan then stir to coat the pasta and the chicken, adding more if you desire a stronger pesto flavor.
  • Option to grate fresh parmesan cheese on top, and serve.

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