Add this Skillet Orzo with Chicken to your weeknight dinner playbook

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One-pot, skillet, and skillet meals are the weeknight dinner world’s favorite recipes. They’re streamlined for efficiency and there’s less to clean up after the meal is finished. And when prepared right, they’re just as exciting and flavorful as more complex meals.

Exhibit A: This skillet orzo with diced chicken thighs, a whole package of baby spinach, tangy goat cheese, and dried fruit that’s comforting, salty, tangy, and a little sweet all at the same time.

Get the recipe: Skillet Orzo with Chicken, Spinach and Goat Cheese

You start by browning bites of boneless, skinless chicken thighs in a pan. (Thighs are the choice here over boneless, skinless chicken breasts, because they are difficult to make tough and dry from overcooking — and they have more flavor.) Next, the shallot and the Garlic help lay the flavorful foundation.

One of the tricks this recipe uses to create flavor is to toast the orzo in the pan, which makes it richer and nuttier. I call for a light toasting, but you can go further until the uncooked pasta is a darker shade for even deeper flavor. This technique is easy to implement in one-pot meals, but can be used with any type of dried pasta in the dish you want to add more punch to.

Baby spinach adds nutrition – yes, vegetables! — and green ribbons on a sea of ​​beige and brown, and orzo cooks in chicken broth until tender but not mushy. Fresh goat cheese is mixed in at the end to combine with any remaining liquid for a savory, creamy flavor.

This is where I initially stopped with the recipe. I tasted it and was happy, so I typed it and moved on to my next mission. But now I can admit that I didn’t think the recipe was particularly special. It was very good.

I kept thinking about the dish, wondering if there was a way to take it from merely good to great. My goal with this column is to share recipes that I really love and that are worth your time, energy and money. My first version of the recipe needed a little something extra.

At the eleventh hour, it finally came to me: dried fruit.

I grabbed some raisins from my pantry to add to the leftovers in my fridge. (Raisins were what I had on hand, but any dried fruit will do.) With that first bite, I had an uncontrollable shoulder shimmy – this happens every time I eat something delicious – and I knew I had succeeded. It was a reminder of one of the tenets of my recipe development philosophy: If at first a dish lacks enthusiasm, introduce a new taste, texture, or sensation. The sweetness of the dried fruit combined with the tangy acidity of the goat cheese filled the dish with intrigue. Something one-dimensional has become multifaceted and it’s a recipe I’m proud to share with you.

Get the recipe: Skillet Orzo with Chicken, Spinach and Goat Cheese

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