This week has been all about change. We sent our toddler, our baby, to preschool this week. For the last 19+ months, it has been me & her. Us. All day, every day, all week long. For the last 7 months, I have been looking forward to the first day of school as if it were Christmas. I counted down the months, then weeks, then days – I think only Christmas moves slower!
I packed the “baby” a lunch, a snack, and gathered her things. And then I chewed off every single fingernail in a bout of anxiety and nervousness as the clock on the oven moved minute by minute closer to 8:40am. She’s not a baby anymore and still a ways from being independent. We’re somewhere in between, a gray area that lacks enough definition to make it… weird. Unsettling. And it’s not the only thing.
There was a 17 degree temperature swing in the high temps of the previous two Sundays. Even at 91 degrees, you can tell that something’s going on. It no longer feels like summer – the water in the pool is already ice cold but the first official day of fall is still weeks away. We’ve cleared the spent cherry and grape tomato vines to make way for a fall garden and hopefully a bounty of butternut squash. Halloween candy and decorations are out. People are talking about pumpkin bread, Thanksgiving menus, and fall boots. And I’m grasping onto summer tomatoes as if they were a life preserve.
This dish has all the bright, light flavors of summer with a light and stealthily comforting, creamy sauce. And it comes together in under half an hour. The flavors and calorie content don’t really fit the fall comfort food stereotype – fat-free Greek yogurt, lemon juice, and pasta water might not be mistaken for heavy cream and butter, but it’s an in-between dish worthy of the transition between summer and fall.
Lemony Orzo with Chicken and Roasted Tomatoes
A quick and easy light pasta dish full of bright summer flavors.
- 1 pint grape tomatoes
- 3 Tbsp olive oil, divided
- Fresh ground black pepper
- 1 1/2 cups dried orzo
- 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/3 cup white wine or chicken stock
- 14 oz can artichoke hearts, drained and quartered
- 1 cup leftover shredded chicken
- 1/4 cup plain yogurt or sour cream (I use 0% Fage)
- 3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 3 Tbsp fresh basil, thinly sliced and divided
- Preheat oven to 450.
- Toss tomatoes with 2 Tbsp of olive oil, salt, and pepper, and pour into a baking dish and bake for ~20 minutes while preparing the rest of the meal.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the orzo and cook according to package directions.
- While the pasta cooks, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
- Add the onion, pinch of salt, and pepper and cook, stirring often, until deep golden brown, 7 to 8 minutes.
- Add garlic clove and cook another minute.
- Deglaze the pan with the wine or chicken stock, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom.
- Add the artichoke hearts and shredded chicken and cook until heated through, 2 to 3 minutes more and remove from heat.
- Reserve 1/2 cup of pasta water when draining the orzo.
- Transfer the hot orzo back to the pot and toss with the yogurt and lemon juice.
- Add the artichoke mixture, 2 Tbsp of the basil, and salt and pepper to taste. Toss gently to combine.
- Add pasta water 2 Tbsp at a time if necessary to make the pasta creamier.
- Spoon into bowls, and top with the roasted tomatoes (use a slotted spoon to transfer the tomatoes from the baking dish to the pasta) and the remaining basil and serve.
Yields: 4 generous servings
Estimated time: 25 minutes
Hope little one had a great first day at preschool! Great recipe, I’ve had some orzo in the pantry I wasn’t sure what to do with. This is perfect. Thanks!
Love that the creaminess from this comes from yogurt. Definitely giving this one a try soon! Hope L (and you!) enjoyed her first day of preschool!
This looks great…I have been really into lemon and pasta these days. Trying to hang on to summer, I guess!!
Hope the first day went well – it’s a great thing that you are doing for your little one:-). This dish looks amazing. I love orzo, but I really love when a dish has a starch a veggie and a protein all in one – it’s a meal – love it!!
This sounds fantastic!
How exciting about preschool! Did she love it?
I never thought I was going to dread the end of summer so much, but I feel like this year I really fell for summer produce. I think I need this salad to make up for all that I’ll be missing come October.
She seemed to really love it. And she didn’t want to leave at the end of day 2.
Preschool already!? I hope it was SO great for both of you! The orzo looks fantastic, and I definitely appreciate an “in-between” seasons dish since it’s still in the 90’s here with no hint of fall yet. 🙂
This looks great! I have a box of orzo that I have been meaning to use up. Good luck with preschool!
This is a beautiful dish. I love the pop of tomatoes.
Wonderful picture…I loved this orzo recipe. The ingredients have been used in the right amounts! Great!
The photography is amazing, I love the contrast in colors = )
My baby’s note even here yet, but I know preschool will be here before I know it!
Orzo is one of my favorite pastas and combined with lemon and chicken…a winner! Cheers!
Beautiful! I love to see fresh, Summer flavors because I just can’t get in the Fall mood yet!
I made this replacing the Orzo with shredded(raw) zucchini (long shreds like spaghetti) to reduce calories (though it’s already a pretty healthy recipe) and 0% Greek yogurt. It was TO DIE FOR! I thought it sounded “good” but was blown away! This is definitely going on my list of “no guilt” go to recipes!
This was great–I will definitely make it again. It was an easy, tasty weeknight meal. Changes I made–added an extra T. of Greek yogurt and would probably add more next time, added the zest of the lemon, and used about a dollop of homemade pesto because I didn’t have fresh basil. Now, as an upstate NY girl, I have to know what temp the pool is when you refer to it as “ice cold”. I don’t care what temp the pool was–if it were 91 degrees here, I’d be in that pool so fast!
It was probably 80-82 degrees 🙂
I knew it!!! Pools up here rarely get that warm!
I’m making this for dinner tonight and I’m so excited! Perfect for spring. Thanks for sharing!