This post was made in partnership with Barilla, but all opinions are my own, per usual!
Growing up in a Greek household, Mediterranean flavors were a staple at every meal. From rosemary to lemon to thyme to tomatoes, every bit of produce paired perfectly with pasta, which made it a family staple. Pasta is a deeply important part of the Mediterranean Diet. The Mediterranean Diet isn’t about severely limiting the food you eat or fasting or anything extreme like that. Instead, it’s a healthy way of eating, inspired by the traditional lifestyle + dietary patterns of the Mediterranean region, and can help reduce the risk of chronic diseases. It incorporates a variety of quality food groups that should be eaten often in reasonable quantities, including pasta. My go-to pasta, Barilla®, is made with few, wholesome ingredients to provide a simple and natural way to enjoy eating. It’s the perfect canvas for those delicious Mediterranean flavors like chicken orecchiette!
This dish combines several of my favorite spring ingredients from the region, and that’s lemon, rosemary, chicken, peas, and chives. I like using chicken thighs because they’re much more flavorful than the breast, but if you’re a white meat fan, you can feel free to substitute in a chicken breast instead, and just follow the cooking directions in the recipe as such. There’s something extremely comforting about the combination of chicken, lemon, and rosemary, and that makes up the basis of the light and creamy sauce the Barilla Collezione orecchiette is coated in.
If you’re unfamiliar with orecchiette, it’s a traditional type of pasta that’s shaped like a little bowl, and it perfect for scooping up and holding sauce. And in the case of this recipe, it also make an ideal vessel for little peas to rest in, almost like a pearl tucked into a shell. I also included some fresh chives from the garden, because they add the most wonderful savory herbal flavor to the dish. The little purple flowers you see are chive blossoms, but you can just use chopped fresh chives as directed in the recipe, since they have the same flavor and are much easier to find year-round.
It’s so much fun to experiment with the different seasonal flavors of the Mediterranean region—I highly recommend checking out Barilla’s Italian Recipe Builder to help you craft your own. It helps you create a Mediterranean-style recipe for 500 calories or less per serving and gives you hundreds of combinations of flavor and variety. As for size, each recipe makes about 6 to 8 servings, depending on the box size. It’s an awesome tool to help you experiment more with all the bright and delicious produce that’s out there. I can’t wait to see what you create!
Chive and Chicken Orecchiette in a Rosemary Lemon Sauce
This delicious orecchiette combines the bright flavors of spring with the nourishing taste of the Mediterranean. The sauce is made from a chevre, rosemary, and lemon base, and the orecchiette pasta is tossed in it along with peas, chives, and delicious roast chicken.
- 1 1/2 pounds chicken thighs bone in skin on
- 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
- Salt to taste
- Cracked black pepper to taste
Roast Chicken and Chive Orecchiette with a Lemon and Rosemary Sauce
- 12 ounces Barilla Collezione Orecchiette
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- Reserved pan juices from chicken
- 4 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 4 ounces fresh chevre
- 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
- 1 cup shelled peas fresh or frozen (thawed, if frozen)
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh chives
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- Salt to taste
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Rub the chicken thighs with the 2 teaspoons of olive oil and season with the salt and pepper. Place on a lipped baking sheet, skin side up, and roast in the oven until the skin is golden, the juices run clear, and a thermometer inserted into the center of the thigh reads 165 degrees Fahrenheit, about 30 to 40 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and allow the chicken to cool until cool enough to handle.
- Save the juices that have collected on the bottom of the lipped baking sheet and set them aside for now. Discard the chicken skin, remove the meat from the bones, and chop the meat into roughly 1-inch cubes. Discard the chicken bones and set the meat aside.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil, then season generously with salt.
- While the water is coming to a boil, you can prepare the sauce. Heat the 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium low heat. Add the garlic and sauté until softened and very lightly golden around the edges, about 5 minutes, stirring every minute.
- The following steps should happen very quickly, so pay close attention and read ahead to be prepared. Add the orecchiette to the pot of boiling water and prepare al dente according to the package directions. When you eventually strain the pasta, make sure to reserve 3/4 cup of the water the pasta was cooked in.
- While the orecchiette is cooking, add the reserved chicken pan juices and the lemon juice to the pot of garlic and whisk to combine.
- Add the rosemary and lemon zest and crumble the chèvre over the sauce, stirring until the chèvre is melted. The sauce will look like it’s separated, but it will come together in a bit.
- Take 3/4 cup of water from the boiling pot of pasta using a heat-proof container like a glass measuring cup. Slowly add it to the pot of sauce in a thin steady drizzle, whisking constantly, until the sauce becomes creamy.
- Add the strained orecchiette, the chopped chicken, peas, chives, and black pepper to the pot of sauce and toss gently to combine and coat the pasta in the sauce. Remove from heat, salt to taste, if desired, and serve immediately.