Chicken & Lemon-Caper Sauce with Orzo Pasta & Spinach

Chicken & Lemon-Caper Sauce

with Orzo Pasta & Spinach

35 MIN
4 Servings
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From the Test Kitchen

We’re making a piccata-style sauce tonight: garlic, lemon juice, capers, and butter cooked briefly together result in a rich, bright topping for our chicken. (For especially deep flavor, we’re making the sauce in the same pan used to sear the chicken.) Orzo, a rice-shaped pasta, is a fitting choice for pasta salad, offering hearty chew to go with plump tomatoes and leafy spinach.

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  • Nutrition
    PER SERVING
  • Calories
    570 Cals (est.)
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fresh
ingredients
time-saving
tips & techniques
Prepare the ingredients:
1 Prepare the ingredients:

Heat a large pot of salted water to boiling on high. Wash and dry the fresh produce. Quarter the tomatoes; place in a bowl and season with salt and pepper. Peel and roughly chop the garlic. Quarter and deseed the lemon. Grate the cheese on the small side of a box grater.

Cook the pasta:
2 Cook the pasta:

Add the pasta to the pot of boiling water; cook 7 to 9 minutes, or until just shy of al dente (still slightly firm to the bite). Turn off the heat. Reserving ½ cup of the pasta cooking water, drain thoroughly and return to the pot.

Coat & cook the chicken:
3 Coat & cook the chicken:

While the pasta cooks, place the flour on a plate. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels; season with salt and pepper on both sides. Thoroughly coat the seasoned chicken in the flour (tapping off any excess). In a large pan, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil on medium-high until hot. Add the coated chicken and cook 4 to 6 minutes per side, or until lightly browned and cooked through. Leaving any browned bits (or fond) in the pan, transfer to a cutting board. Set aside in a warm place.

Finish the pasta:
4 Finish the pasta:

While the chicken cooks, to the pot of cooked pasta, add the seasoned tomatoes, spinach, half the reserved pasta cooking water, and a drizzle of olive oil; season with salt and pepper. Cook on medium-high, stirring occasionally, 1 to 2 minutes, or until the spinach has wilted. (If the pasta seems dry, gradually add the remaining pasta cooking water to achieve your desired consistency.) Turn off the heat; season with salt and pepper to taste.

Make the sauce:
5 Make the sauce:

Add the garlic to the pan of reserved fond; season with salt and pepper. (If the pan seems dry, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil.) Cook on medium-high, stirring frequently, 1 to 2 minutes, or until lightly browned and fragrant. Add the capers, butter, ¼ cup of water, and the juice of all 4 lemon wedges (be careful, as the liquid may splatter); season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring constantly and scraping up any fond from the bottom of the pan, 30 seconds to 1 minute, or until the butter has melted and the sauce is slightly thickened. Turn off the heat. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve your dish:
6 Serve your dish:

Slice the cooked chicken crosswise. Divide the finished pasta and sliced chicken among 4 dishes. Top the chicken with the sauce. Garnish the pasta with the cheese. Enjoy!

Tips from Home Chefs

1 Prepare the ingredients:

Heat a large pot of salted water to boiling on high. Wash and dry the fresh produce. Quarter the tomatoes; place in a bowl and season with salt and pepper. Peel and roughly chop the garlic. Quarter and deseed the lemon. Grate the cheese on the small side of a box grater.

2 Cook the pasta:

Add the pasta to the pot of boiling water; cook 7 to 9 minutes, or until just shy of al dente (still slightly firm to the bite). Turn off the heat. Reserving ½ cup of the pasta cooking water, drain thoroughly and return to the pot.

Coat & cook the chicken:
3 Coat & cook the chicken:

While the pasta cooks, place the flour on a plate. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels; season with salt and pepper on both sides. Thoroughly coat the seasoned chicken in the flour (tapping off any excess). In a large pan, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil on medium-high until hot. Add the coated chicken and cook 4 to 6 minutes per side, or until lightly browned and cooked through. Leaving any browned bits (or fond) in the pan, transfer to a cutting board. Set aside in a warm place.

4 Finish the pasta:

While the chicken cooks, to the pot of cooked pasta, add the seasoned tomatoes, spinach, half the reserved pasta cooking water, and a drizzle of olive oil; season with salt and pepper. Cook on medium-high, stirring occasionally, 1 to 2 minutes, or until the spinach has wilted. (If the pasta seems dry, gradually add the remaining pasta cooking water to achieve your desired consistency.) Turn off the heat; season with salt and pepper to taste.

Finish the pasta:
Make the sauce:
5 Make the sauce:

Add the garlic to the pan of reserved fond; season with salt and pepper. (If the pan seems dry, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil.) Cook on medium-high, stirring frequently, 1 to 2 minutes, or until lightly browned and fragrant. Add the capers, butter, ¼ cup of water, and the juice of all 4 lemon wedges (be careful, as the liquid may splatter); season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring constantly and scraping up any fond from the bottom of the pan, 30 seconds to 1 minute, or until the butter has melted and the sauce is slightly thickened. Turn off the heat. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

6 Serve your dish:

Slice the cooked chicken crosswise. Divide the finished pasta and sliced chicken among 4 dishes. Top the chicken with the sauce. Garnish the pasta with the cheese. Enjoy!

Serve your dish:
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