An incredibly versatile rice-shaped pasta, orzo is delicious in soups and stews, bulking out dishes with a creamy, silky texture that makes it an excellent alternative in risotto too. In Italy, orzo is used to add body to minestrone-type soups, while in Greece and Cyprus it’s often paired with tomato sauce to great effect – as Georgina Hayden demonstrates with this gloriously simple family traybake from Taverna – Recipes from a Cypriot Kitchen.
See also: Mary Berry’s Velvet Chocolate Torte
Georgina says: “There are so many versions of kritharaki (orzo) in Greek and Cypriot cooking – it is a huge staple for us, and almost always cooked with tomato. This chicken dish is the sort of family one-pot recipe all households should have up their sleeve. I’d put a bet on it being a winner with all ages.”
See also: Marcus Bawdon’s Grilled Lamb Leg Steaks with Chamomile Salsa Verde
- 1ltr chicken stock
- 2 onions
- 2 garlic cloves
- Olive oil
- 1 stick cinnamon
- 1 tbsp tomato purée
- 5 ripe tomatoes
- 400g orzo
- 6 chicken thighs, on the bone and skin on
- ½ tsp ground allspice
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 250g cherry tomatoes on the vine
- 6 sprigs fresh oregano
- 75g halloumi or salted anari/ricotta
See also: Grace Regan’s 15-Minute One-Pot Dhal
- Preheat your oven to 200°C/gas mark 6. Heat the chicken stock. Peel and finely chop the onions and garlic. Pour 3 tablespoons of olive oil into a wide casserole pan and add the chopped veg.
- Place on a medium low heat and sauté for 10 minutes, until starting to soften.
- Add the cinnamon stick and tomato purée to the pan and stir for a minute. Coarsely grate in the large tomatoes, give everything a stir, then stir in the orzo and hot stock.
- Toss the chicken thighs with the allspice and a generous pinch of salt and pepper. Place the chicken on top of the orzo, skin side up, and dot around the vines of tomatoes and sprigs of oregano.
- Drizzle everything with olive oil and place in the oven for around 30 minutes.
- Towards the end of this cooking time, boil a kettle. When 30 minutes is up, remove the casserole pan from the oven. Carefully pour 150ml of boiling water all around the orzo (not on the chicken skin) and return to the oven.
- Cook for a further 25 minutes, or until the chicken skin is crisp and golden, and the meat is tender.
- Remove from the oven, leave it to rest for 5 minutes, then serve, grating over the cheese.