Tonight's Dinner is Orzo with Chicken and Olive Sprinkle

Some ingredients are just back-pocket game changers that you should always have around. Dehydrated olives may not sound like a necessity, but they can add a punch of flavor to almost anything. Don't be concerned with people who claim they don't like olives, it's not the same flavor. In the way that miso paste or soy sauce can add a depth of umami to a dish, so too can a bit of dehydrated olives just sprinkled on top. On pasta, on meat, even on a salad this little dust can do wonders.

And it's not a difficult task - it's really just about sticking them in an oven and remembering to take them out. You can make a giant batch and then seal them in a jar, always at the ready for an infusion of oomph. 

Before and after dehydrated olives

Before and after dehydrated olives


This recipe takes something lovable but basic - chicken and pasta - and makes it feel like a sophisticated dish. It takes the ordinary and makes it addictive. But with the combination of the olives and the flavor of the chicken skin, you're basically unstoppable. 

Orzo with Chicken and Olive Sprinkle

Serves 6 to 8

1 cup pitted olive mix
4 bone-in chicken thighs
2 cups chopped zucchini
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 pound orzo
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary

Preheat the oven to 225 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Put your olives in the blender and then pulse them until they are in small pieces. Put the olives on the baking tray and put them in the oven for 2 to 3 hours, or until they have completely dried and can crumble. Set aside.

Set the oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or grease it. Place the chicken thighs skin up. Add the zucchini onto the tray and sprinkle the onion powder and salt on top. Place in the oven for 30 minutes or until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 160. Set aside to cool. Remove the bones from the chicken and then cut into small pieces.

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the orzo and cook for 7 to 8 minutes (or according to your package instructions) until al dente. Drain fully, stirring as you do so the orzo doesn't start to stick.

In a bowl combine the chicken, orzo and zucchini. Crumble the dehydrated olives on top along with the rosemary. Stir to combine and serve hot, cold or at room temperature.

If you like to spiralize your zucchini then you can do that here, but just be sure to cook it separately from the chicken so it doesn't overcook. 

This is also a good kitchen sink recipe to throw in any other vegetables you might have lying around. The strength of the chicken and olives are a match for almost anything.