The other day, I was experiencing a very typical spring day in Wisconsin. By that, I mean it began nearly uncomfortably cool - some would say it was very much there, but Wisconsinites know that you just need to grab a sweater/jacket/scarf. Then it drizzled for a while and thundered twice. Then it cleared up and the sun came out and I was wanting to wear shorts and a T shirt. You know, springtime in Wisconsin! And it was truly a perfect day for this springy dish that's both quick and delicious.
If you don't have leftover chicken for this dish, you can cook boneless skinless chicken breasts or thighs before you begin with the asparagus. Just pop it on a plate and keep it warm and continue with the recipe. I like to chop it just before adding it and any accumulated juices to the pan along with the half and half and chicken broth. If you have other springy veggies - I'm thinking ramps, garlic scapes, spring peas, etc - feel free to work them into the recipe in place of or in addition to the onion and green pepper.
I like to serve this dish with a light side salad. Honestly, because it's in season and pretty available here, I tend to mix watercress and baby spinach for a nice, light salad that brings a lot of fresh greens to my plate. Combine that with this quick pasta dish and you're in business!
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 cup asparagus, chopped
- ½ large onion, chopped
- ½ large green pepper, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
- 2 cups orzo, uncooked
- 1 pound chopped, cooked chicken (I used leftover rotisserie chicken)
- 2 cups half and half
- 3 cups chicken broth
- 1½ cups grated Parmesan cheese
In a large sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the asparagus and sauté for about 3 minutes until it begins to soften and brown a bit. Transfer the asparagus to a plate; set aside.
In the same skillet, add the onions and garlic; sauté for about 3 minutes until the onion is translucent and the garlic becomes aromatic. Halfway through cooking, add the salt, pepper, and smoked paprika and stir. Add more olive oil if needed.
Add the orzo to the skillet and sauté it for one minute to toast it a little. Add the chopped chicken, half and half, and chicken broth; stir. Bring the mixture to a boil, then turn the heat down to a medium-low, cover with lid, and let it cook for 10 minutes.
Remove the lid and stir in the Parmesan cheese. Taste for seasoning and adjust the flavor with salt and pepper, as needed. Add the asparagus back to the pan and stir it in. Serve warm, garnished with a little more grated Parmesan cheese.
- Yields: 4 servings
- Preparation Time: 25 minutes