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Creamy Basil Chicken and Orzo

This basil chicken recipe is an astonishingly easy, creamy, cheesy comforting dream laced with aromatic Italian herbs and cheeses. It’s made by simmering the basil chicken in ONE POT with orzo, sun-dried tomatoes, and veggies spiked with nutty Parmesan and creamy mozzarella. This basil chicken is wonderful as is, or you can swap the veggies for your favorites. Serve this basil chicken recipe with garlic bread and tomato cucumber salad for an easy chicken dinner win!
Course Main Dish
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 6 -8 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp EACH paprika, salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 1/2 pounds chicken breasts chopped into large bite size pieces
  • 3 cups broccoli chopped into bite size pieces
  • 1 small onion diced
  • 1 1/2 cups orzo pasta uncooked
  • 1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes rinsed, chopped, patted dry
  • 4 garlic cloves minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes optional
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 1 12 oz. can evaporated milk
  • 1 15 oz. can corn drained and rinsed (may sub frozen)
  • 1 teaspoon chicken bouillon
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

ADD LATER

  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • 1 cup packed fresh basil leaves roughly chopped*

Instructions

  • While chicken is still on the cutting board, pat it dry and season with ½ teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon paprika and ¼ teaspoon pepper; set aside.
  • Melt butter in olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium high heat until hot. Add onions and cook for 3 minutes. Add chicken and broccoli and cook until most off the chicken is opaque (chicken will not be cooked through). Add orzo, sun-dried tomatoes, garlic and red pepper flakes and cook an additional 1 1/2 minutes.
  • Whisk 1 cup chicken broth with the cornstarch and add to the pot. Add remaining chicken broth and all remaining ingredients up to the “Add Later”/ cheeses.
  • Cover the pot and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 8-10 minutes, or until orzo is tender, stirring every couple minutes so the orzo doesn’t burn on the bottom, and replacing the lid. Add additional broth if the orzo isn't done and most of the liquid is evaporated.
  • Stir in Parmesan cheese until melted followed by mozzarella until melted. Stir in fresh basil. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper (I add ¼ teaspoon more of each). If desired, you can make the dish "saucier" by stirring in additional broth, milk or cream.

Notes

Tips for Making Basil chicken

  • *Basil:  measure before chopping.
  • Broccoli: I prefer using fresh broccoli in this recipe but frozen broccoli will also work. You’ll want to chop the broccoli into small bite size pieces so it softens in the allotted cooking time. If you want more crisp-tender broccoli, you can leave the florets larger.  
  • Chicken bouillon: You may use granulated bouillon, bouillon cubes or better than bouillon.  If using bouillon cubes, you’ll need just one cube, crush it up before stirring directly into the pot (don’t dissolve in water first).
  • Parmesan: Please don’t use the powdered or pre-shredded cheese. Freshly grated Parmesan cheese tastes far superior and melts much better. 
  • Mozzarella: Please use freshly grated mozzarella as if it melts far better than pre-shredded mozzarella, which is coated in anti-clumping chemicals. 
  • Chicken: Error on the side of chopping the chicken larger so it remains juicy and doesn’t overcook.
  • Don’t overcook the orzo! There are several factors when it comes to the orzo doneness, such as the material of the pot, size of the pot, actual temperature, etc. Start checking the orzo early. It should be al dente, meaning it should still be a little firm in the center/ have a “bite” to it.
  • Recipe variations:  See post for all sorts of recipe ideas!

How to Store and Reheat 

  • Storage: Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. 
  • Freeze:  Let basil chicken cool to room temperature. Transfer to a freezer-safe container, label and freeze for up to 3 months.  Allow to thaw completely in the refrigerator overnight before reheating per instructions.
  • Microwave:  Microwave small portions for 1 minute, stir, then continue to heat at 30-second intervals until warmed through.
  • Stove: For larger portions, reheat pasta gently on the stove, stirring occasionally. You may need to add a splash of milk for to make it ultra creamy again. 
 
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