8 & $20 Recipe: One Pan Chicken, Zucchini, and Orzo With Semillon

8 & $20 Recipe: One Pan Chicken, Zucchini, and Orzo With Semillon

Eight ingredients, plus staples in the pantry. That’s all it takes to make an entire meal from scratch. Add a good bottle of wine for under $20, and you have a feast for family or friends.

Simplicity is key when it comes to summer recipes. This uncomplicated, tasty and filling dish is a hit on a weekday while minimizing the time you spend in the kitchen.

Start by searing the chicken so that you have valuable rendered fat that you can use to cook the ingredients in the following steps. The layers of flavor are all built on top of each other in a single Dutch oven or pot, giving the veggies and orzo a savory chicken touch. If possible, use homemade stock to pack as much flavor as possible into this short ingredient list. Therefore, be sure to season very generously, especially with salt.

Counteracting the meatiness and bringing a clear seasonal feeling is a topping of fresh herbs. I like a combination of parsley for a green tasting, slightly bitter accent and sweet basil as the quintessential summer herb. Along with chopped and toasted pistachios, the spices add pizzaz to the flavor and visual appeal, but some or all of the toppings can be omitted to keep this dinner super simple.

Even if you’re blessed with a dishwasher in your house (unlike me), there’s no doubt that a one-pot meal will light up the night. Not only is it less cookware to clean, but it also keeps clutter in check. And when you’re done, you’ll have a complete meal of protein, starch, and veggie.

This recipe can easily be adapted into a vegetarian entree or a savory side. Just skip the chicken and swap the stock for a vegetable stock. For a boost of protein (and flavor), a topping of crumbled feta is also really delicious — and if you’re headed that way, try adding fresh mint to your garnishes.

For the wine, I was looking for a selection that would play up the clear components of the dish. However, I still wanted the wine to have some substance and body rather than being too light or minerally skewed.

L’Ecole No. 41 Sémillon Columbia Valley 2020 from Washington was a solid pick, with some lusciousness to make this more than an appetizer and a crunch to match the lighter, fresher components. It’s an insanely good deal too, scoring 91 points for just $16.

One Pot Chicken, Zucchini and Orzo

Pair with a white wine that balances richness with fresh acidity, such as L’Ecole No. 41 Semillon Columbia Valley 2020 (91 points, $16).

Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour
Total time: 1 hour, 10 minutes
Estimated food costs: $40


  • 6 chicken thighs
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 zucchini, diced
  • Splash of white wine
  • 1/2 cup orzo
  • 1/2 cup unsalted chicken stock, preferably homemade, divided
  • Lemon juice from 1 lemon, to taste
  • Optional garnishes: Roasted and chopped pistachios, chopped parsley, chopped basil


1. Season the chicken all over with salt and pepper. Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven or large saucepan over medium heat. Add the chicken and cook undisturbed until browned, 5 to 7 minutes, then flip and cook on the other side for another 5 to 7 minutes. The chicken is not yet fully cooked. Transfer to a plate and set aside.

2. Add garlic, onion and zucchini, season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender and beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Deglaze with a dash of white wine, place the vegetables in a bowl and set aside.

3. Add a little more oil if the jar looks dry. Add orzo with a generous pinch of salt and roast for about 3 minutes, stirring often. Add half of the stock, reduce heat and cover. Let it cook for 10 minutes.

4. Return the vegetables to the pan with the rest of the stock, place the chicken on top, cover and cook over medium heat for 5 to 10 minutes more until the orzo is tender and the chicken is cooked through.

5. Remove from heat, season with salt and lemon juice, and garnish with some or all of the optional garnishes: parsley, basil, and pistachios. Serves 3 to 4

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