Gluten Free Chicken Orzo Casserole

Look at the beautiful colors in this casserole!  Would you believe it’s gluten free?  It absolutely is!  I love that we can enjoy popular orzo dishes like this one, made with gluten free Orzo pasta from DeLallo.

But what I especially love about this recipe is that it uses healthy fresh ingredients, like boneless, skinless chicken thighs, peeled and seeded butternut squash, and bagged baby spinach.  The prep work is a snap!

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Ingredients:

  • 2 cups butternut squash, cut into small cubes
  • 1 lb. boneless skinless chicken thighs, about 5
  • 1 cup uncooked gluten free Orzo pasta, (I used DeLallo)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 5 oz. bag baby spinach
  • 1/2 cup white wine, divided use
  • 2 cups gluten free chicken broth, divided use
  • 2 tbsp. heavy cream
  • olive oil
  • Italian seasoning (I used this one)
  • paprika
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • cooking spray
  • fresh Italian parsley for garnish

Preparation:

Cut the butternut squash into small cubes.  Toss with olive oil, salt, pepper and Italian seasoning.  Line a baking sheet with foil and mist with cooking spray.  Spread the squash cubes in an even layer, bake at 425º for 20 minutes, then set aside to cool.

Season the chicken thighs with salt, pepper, Italian seasoning and paprika.

Heat a nonstick skillet with olive oil and add the chicken.  Cook 7 minutes per side, turning once.  Toward the end of cooking add 1/4 cup white wine to the pan and cook several minutes more until mostly evaporated.

Transfer the chicken to a plate and wipe the skillet clean.  Set up a pot of salted water for the gluten free orzo and cook according to package directions.

In the skillet, add 1 tbsp. of olive oil, the minced garlic and pinch of red pepper flakes.  Cook just until fragrant (30 seconds) then add 1/4 cup of white wine.  Add the baby spinach and simmer until wilted.  (It looks like a lot of spinach, but don’t be afraid to add it all, it will cook down to nothing!)

Add the roasted butternut squash back to the pan.

When cooked, drain and rinse the orzo under warm water to remove some of the starch.  Use a fork to break up the orzo if it seems to be sticking together.  Gradually add it to the skillet with the spinach mixture.  Add a pinch of salt, or to taste.

Stir in 1 cup gluten free chicken broth and 2 tbsp. heavy cream.

Simmer several minutes to reduce the liquid slightly, then transfer the mixture to a casserole dish that has been coated with cooking spray.  Arrange the chicken thighs in the casserole, cover with foil and bake 20 minutes at 350º.

Remove from the oven and garnish with fresh Italian parsley.

Notes ♪♫ Some recipes add the uncooked orzo pasta right into a casserole, but for gluten free pasta I always recommend cooking it separately.  Since some gluten free pasta can be quite gummy, you are able to rinse off some of the starch before adding to your dish.

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