Greek-Style Orzo Casserole

As we settle into the long, cold, dark days that come with the final slog through winter, we — your pals from The Awl and The Hairpin — will be bringing you some of our favorite casserole recipes (and crockery recommendations). But these won’t be just any old casseroles! No, no, that won’t do at all. These are fancy casseroles — or at least, not-gross ones.

Be a love and come sit by me so we can have a quiet discussion about how Martha Stewart’s recipes are terrible. Shhhhhh, not so loud! Cripes, she might hear you and then we’ll all be done for. Death by glue gun and glimpses of Baby Jude.

This recipe was inspired by a Martha Stewart orzo casserole recipe gone wrong. I mean, it didn’t go wrong because of anything I did — I know how to follow instructions, thanks — but as with every single one of The Marth’s recipes I’ve ever tried it just… didn’t turn out. In this case, I found that the use of lemon zest waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay overpowered the dish, and the next-day leftovers were virtually inedible because it was like lemon oil central in there. And as we’ve established around these parts, I’m a pretty big lover of lemon.

The thing is, though, there were two elements to the recipe I liked: (1) the feta, which mellowed significantly in flavor during cooking and gave the dish an amazing creamy quality; and (2) the technique of pouring boiling stock over raw chicken and orzo, which meant no pre-cooking was required.

So I used my imagination and tinkered and came up with this really awesome and incredibly easy Greek-style orzo casserole.

Step 1: In a small saucepot, bring 3 cups chicken or vegetable stock, 2 tablespoons butter, ½ a teaspoon dried marjoram or oregano and salt & pepper to taste to a boil.

Step 2: Put the following things into a 3-quart or larger lidded casserole dish:

1 pound boneless chicken breasts, cubed
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes, drained OR 1–2 cups diced fresh tomatoes (it being winter here in New York I went for the canned goods)
1 small zucchini, diced
1 small onion, sliced
5–10 kalamata olives, chopped
2 cups orzo, uncooked
½ cup crumbled feta

Step 3: Pour the boiling stock mixture over the chicken, vegetable and orzo and stir well to combine. You’ll notice that the chicken will start to cook, which is so creepy and gross for some reason. Chicken squicks: do you think there will ever be a day when we collectively get over the chicken squicks? Because I seriously doubt it. Once everything is stirred, put the lid on your casserole dish and put the whole thing in a 400 degree oven; cook for 25 minutes covered, then uncover it and cook for another 20 minutes. That’s all! I know, doesn’t that seem too easy?

Serve it with a spinach and red onion salad and some flatbread while wearing a toga to complete the effect.

Jolie Kerr can’t seem to stop taking swipes at Martha Stewart and is truly worried for her safety.