This recipe spins a classic puttanesca sauce of tomatoes, garlic, olives, and capers into a single-skillet meal by cooking chicken breasts in the pan to start, then making the sauce and cooking the orzo pasta together in the same pan. Convenience is not the only benefit—the method adds flavor, too, as the fond (the brown bits left in the pan) from the chicken flavors the sauce and the pasta both absorbs and thickens it. Served sprinkled with Parmesan and fresh basil, it gives new life to an old favorite.
Season the chicken with 1/4 teaspoon each of the salt and black pepper.
Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add two pieces of the chicken to the skillet, then lower the heat to medium and cook until they are browned and nearly cooked through, 3 minutes per side, then transfer them to a plate. Repeat with another tablespoon of the oil and the remaining chicken, transferring it to the plate.
Add the remaining tablespoon of oil to the skillet and lower the heat to medium. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until softened, 2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 30 for seconds more. Add the tomatoes, olives, capers, oregano, red pepper flakes, and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon of salt and cook until the mixture thickens slightly, 4 minutes.
Add 2 1/4 cups of water to the pan and bring to a boil, then stir in the orzo. Return to a boil, then lower the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, stirring frequently, until the orzo is nearly cooked, 10 minutes. Return the chicken and any accumulated juices to the pan, nestling it into the orzo mixture. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the orzo is cooked al dente and the chicken is cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes more.
Serve the orzo topped with the chicken, a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese, and fresh basil leaves.
The chicken and orzo will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
SERVING SIZE: 1 1/4 cups pasta and sauce and 1 piece chicken
PER SERVING: Calories 540; Total Fat 18 g (Sat Fat 3 g, Mono Fat 9 g, Poly Fat 2 g); Protein 43 g; Carb 52 g; Fiber 6 g; Cholesterol 110 mg; Sodium 680 mg; Total Sugar 15 g (Added Sugar 0 g)