Juicy seared chicken thighs baked with artichoke hearts, kalamata olives, red peppers, tomatoes, red onions, and tangy feta cheese cook down to make a creamy and briney flavor-packed sauce for the orzo pasta. And only one pot, so less cleanup! This one will be on heavy rotation in your recipe repertoire.
- Dry your chicken! This helps create a good sear and a nice sear = FLAVOR.
- For extra drying power, you can put the patted down chicken in the fridge uncovered for another hour to dry it out further.
- Heat your skillet for a few minutes before adding oil or chicken, this will also help the chicken sear nicely.
- Pick out the lemon seeds with the tip of a knife so they don't fall out in the sauce.
- If your sauce is too dry, add more chicken broth.
- Buy the feta cheese in a block soaked in brine, and not the kind already crumbled. The block feta is creamier and just all around better.
Ingredients for Mediterranean chicken and orzo pasta
- Proteins: 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs (about 8 thighs). This dish would also be great with drumsticks!
- Seasonings: Za’atar, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, pepper, oregano, and red pepper flakes
- Produce: red onion, roma tomatoes, red pepper, garlic, lemon, fresh parsley
- Dry Goods/Pantry Items: orzo pasta, chicken broth, red wine vinegar, artichoke hearts, kalamata olives
- Dairy: feta cheese
How to make Mediterranean chicken and orzo pasta?
First let's prep the chicken. Trim any excess fat from the thighs. Pat your chicken thighs dry with paper towels. Season the thighs evenly with za'atar, onion powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper. To do this I usually add the seasonings in a large ziploc bag, then add the chicken in, seal and give it a good shake around until all the chicken thighs are covered. Store the chicken in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours.
While your chicken is marinating you can prep your other ingredients. Chop the red onions, peppers, and tomatoes with a ½ inch to ¾ inch dice. This will give you some chunky veggies in the final dish, but they will still be small enough to cook well. Mince the garlic. Quarter the lemon and with the tip of a knife, flick out any exposed seeds. Don't forget this step or else you'll have seeds floating around in your final dish.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Pull out your trusty cast iron skillet. You can use any oven safe saute pan, but I love using the cast iron. It gets really hot and heats evenly. Plus it just looks pretty to serve in. Heat your cast iron skillet over medium-high heat for a few minutes before adding anything. Add one tablespoon of vegetable or canola oil in the skillet.
Sear each chicken thigh for 2-3 minutes on each side, until there is a browned crust. Take your time with this step and sear the chicken well. This is where a ton of flavor will come from. You may need to do this in batches as to not crowd the pan. If your pan is smoking too much, turn the heat down a little bit. You don't need to cook the chicken through during this step because it will finish cooking in the oven. Set the chicken aside while you saute the vegetables.
Turn the heat down to medium and in the same skillet, add onions and peppers. Saute for about 5 minutes until they are starting to soften. If you need more oil at this point, add in another teaspoon or two. Add in the garlic and cook for a few minutes until fragrant. When you cook garlic in a hot pan you want to keep it moving so it doesn't burn.
Add in the uncooked orzo and toast it for a few minutes while stirring. Toasting the orzo adds another layer of flavor. Next add in the chicken broth, red wine vinegar, dried oregano, red pepper flakes, tomatoes, artichoke hearts, olives, ½ the feta, and ½ the parsley. Mix everything well.
Add the chicken back into the pan nestling it down in the bed of orzo and veggies. Place the lemon wedges around the chicken. Bake the skillet for 15-20 minutes. Chicken thighs are much more forgiving than chicken breasts, and can tolerate a little extra cooking, so if you think the thighs are not cooked through, add them back in for a few more minutes. If you find the pasta is too dry, mix in some more chicken broth and give it a stir. If too much liquid is in the skillet, put it back in the oven for a few more minutes until it has thickened.
Sprinkle the remaining feta and parsley on top, and serve!
What's for dinner tomorrow? Check out some more recipes here.
One Skillet Mediterranean Chicken and Orzo Pasta
- 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs about 8 thighs
- 1 tablespoon Za’atar
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- 8 ounces orzo pasta uncooked
- ½ red onion ½ inch dice
- 1 red pepper ½ inch dice
- 2 roma tomatoes ½ inch diced
- 4 cloves of garlic minced
- 2 cups reduced sodium chicken broth
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 6 ounces quartered artichoke hearts drained
- ¼ cup pitted halved kalamata olives drained
- 1 lemon quartered, seeds removed
- 4 ounces feta cheese crumbled
- ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
- Prep: Pat chicken thighs dry with a paper towel. Season evenly with Za’atar, onion powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Set aside in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours. Chop red onions, peppers, tomatoes, and mince garlic while the chicken is marinating.
- Sear: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Heat one tablespoon of vegetable oil in a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Sear the chicken thighs on each side for 2-3 minutes, creating a browned crust. Do in batches if necessary. Remove chicken from the pan and set aside.
- Saute: Turn heat down to medium. Add in the onions and peppers and saute for about 5 minutes. You can add more oil if needed. Add in the garlic and cook for 2-3 more minutes, stirring frequently to not burn the garlic. Add uncooked orzo into the skillet and toast for 3-5 minutes, stirring. Add in the chicken broth, red wine vinegar, dried oregano, red pepper flakes, tomatoes, artichoke hearts, olives, ½ the feta, and ½ the parsley into the skillet and mix to combine. Arrange the chicken thighs back into the pan, and place lemon wedges around between chicken.
- Bake: Bake the skillet for 15-20 minutes uncovered.
- Serve: Serve hot and sprinkle with remaining feta and parsley.