Chicken Breasts and Marinara

This easy dinner of chicken and pasta gets extra flavor from olives and sweet shallots in a savory marinara sauce.
A dish made with simple, easy-to-prepare ingredients can still have a variety of complex flavors and textures, without any fuss at all. Creamy orzo soaks up the flavor of garlicky crushed tomatoes and juicy, tender chicken in this recipe. The olives and shallots give it a salty-sweet finish.

Orzo Pasta
Dry orzo (the Italian word for “barley”) is a small, oblong-shaped pasta that’s a little bit bigger than a grain of Basmati rice. But when it’s boiled, orzo puffs up about three times its original size, so a little bit of dried orzo makes a large serving when cooked. Its puffy, creamy texture allows the pasta to absorb sauces easily and it also works well in soups and casseroles.

Chicken Breasts with Olives, Shallots, and Marinara over Orzo
(serves 4)


For the Marinara

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 small red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped Italian parsley
  • 2 1/2 cups good-quality canned crushed tomatoes
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

For the Chicken and Orzo

  • 3/4 cup dry orzo
  • 2 large boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (about 1 1/2 lbs total)
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2/3 cup thinly sliced, large black and green pitted olives
  • 2 medium shallots, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 2 tbsp chopped Italian parsley

For the Marinara

Heat a saucepan over medium heat and add the olive oil. Add the onion and cook 3-4 minutes, until beginning to soften.
Add the garlic, parsley, and tomatoes and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a slight simmer, then reduce heat to low and cook slowly, 30 minutes.

For the Chicken and Orzo

Cook orzo according to package directions and drain.
Slice each chicken breast half in half crosswise, to make 4 thick pieces. Pound each piece to about 1/3-inch thickness. Season with salt and pepper.

Heat a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat and add the olive oil. Add the chicken and saute 4-5 minutes on each side, depending on thickness. Most of the liquid should be absorbed. Remove the chicken from the skillet.
Add the olives, shallots, and white wine to the skillet. Saute 3 minutes, stirring frequently, until the liquid is absorbed.

To serve, divide the orzo among 4 plates or shallow bowls. Top with spoonfuls of the marinara, divided equally.

Lay a piece of chicken breast on top of the marinara on each plate and spoon the olive-shallot mixture on top of the chicken. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve right away.

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