This tastes of summer... really nice served with a glass (or two) of Red wine and a crisp salad. You need to use the ripest, juiciest reddest tomatoes you can find, so if only anemic looking Toms are on hand, use a can of chopped tomatoes instead. Don't be tempted to use chicken breasts instead, as it's the chicken juices that flavour the pasta so well. Cooking time includes 2 hours marinading
- 4 chicken thighs, unskinned bone in
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 sweet red pepper, halved and de-seeded
- 1 small red onion, sliced vertically
- 4 ripe tomatoes, skinned and de-seeded
- 1 tablespoon tomato puree
- 1 glass fruity red wine
- 1⁄2 small eggplant, cut in 2cm cubes
- 2 -3 cups water
- 6 ounces orzo pasta
- 1 teaspoon dried fennel seed, crushed
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 12 black olives
- 1 lemon, zest of
- 2 ounces feta, crumbled
- Crush one clove of garlic and mix with half the oregano and half the olive oil, rub well into the chicken thighs, leave for at least two hours.
- Roast the red peppers in a 200°C oven for about 30-40 minutes until the skin is blackened. Leave to cool for a few minutes and remove skin. Slice into 1cm thick strips.
- Toss the eggplant with remaining olive oil. I like to cook this on the George Foreman grill for 3-5 minutes, as it adds a bit of a smoky flavour, but if you prefer, fry in a pan for 5 mins or so tossing occasionally until cooked.
- Remove the chicken from the oil and garlic mixture, making sure you knock the bits of garlic off, as these will burn. Fry the chicken in a dry pan skin side down for about 5 minutes, turn over and cook for another 3-5 minutes until lightly browned.
- Remove chicken from the pan and cook onion in the chicken fat for approx 3 mins until lightly brown. Add remaining garlic for last 30 seconds.
- Add red wine to pan and bring to boil. Reduce heat and add tomatoes, puree, fennel seeds, oregano, red pepper and eggplant. Cook for about 5 minutes until the tomato is soft. Stir in Orzo, half the water and the black olives.
- Place in a casserole dish, put chicken on top. Spoon over some of the liquid, making sure all the pasta is submerged. Put lid on casserole and bake in 180°C oven for about 30-40 minutes until chicken and pasta are cooked, and there is only a little remaining liquid.
- Pour yourself a glass of wine while you wait for the chicken, but do check the casserole every 10 minutes or so, and top up the water if it's looking dry.
- I prefer to skin the chicken before serving, but it's up to you. Sprinkle lemon zest and feta over pasta and serve with another glass of wine.