This delicious marinated chicken in harissa sauce served over herby orzo pasta and topped with tomato, feta, and mint salad is one of my favorite Mediterranean recipes to have for dinner.
It is so flavorful, light, and is perfect for meal prep, big family dinner, or just to enjoy with a glass of wine. You will not regret making this orzo pasta recipe this week.
What is Harissa and how to use it?
I think by now Harissa is pretty popular in the U.S but if you are not familiar, it is a chili pepper paste and is mainly used in the Middle Eastern and North African food.
Moroccan cuisine has always reminded me of Bulgarian food and maybe that’s why I love harisa so much. Sometimes I buy it as a paste and sometimes they sell it as a sauce you can use right away.
Anyway you find it it has a smoky, peppery and spicy taste. It goes well with meat, veggies, shakshuka eggs, literally everything! I love eating it as a spread with freshly baked bread. So good!
How to make Mediterranean Harissa Chicken Orzo Pasta?
This is one of the easiest Mediterranean recipes I have developed this month. It is pretty straightforward and although there are many ingredients, it comes together in less than an hour. Here are the ingredients and the full method of making it.
For the Harissa Chicken marinade:
- Chicken Breast or tights
- Harissa – I like Mina’s Harissa Spicy sauce a lot.
- Olive oil
- Lemon Pepper – I prefer it for marinating than regular black pepper because it gives a little extra flavor to the dish.
For the Orzo Pasta:
- Dry Orzo Pasta
- Sweet Paprika
- Fresh Thyme
- Salt & Pepper
For the Salad:
- Tomatoes – whatever you have is fine. For best results use hairloom tomatoes.
- Feta cheese – greek feta is usually creamier than the rest and it will work just fine for this recipe. However, it might start melting once you add the salad to the hot ingredients. If you don’t want that to happen get bulgarian feta or feta stored in water. It has firmer texture and will crimble not melt.
- Kalamata Olives
- Olive Oil
- Red Wine Vinegar
- Fresh Mint
- Salt & Pepper
Marinate the chicken in all marinade ingredients for at least an hour in the fridge. There is no need to marinade for longer unless you are preparing for the next day. The flavors stop intensifying after the 4th hour of marinating.
Cook the orzo pasta according to the package. Drain when cooked al dente and set aside covered. Make sure to save one cup of water in case you need it for later.
In a large skillet cook the chicken until cooked through. Set aside and add the onion to the hot pan. Scrape the bottom of the pan for burnt bits of chicken. Add the garlic and cook for another minute or two.
Then add the orzo pasta, the chicken, and spices. Toss to combine everything and adjust the seasoning. If the pasta seems dry add some of the water from the pasta and stir.
To garnish with the salad simply toss the tomatoes, feta, olives, vinegar, salt, and pepper. Add on top of the pasta and garnish with mint and a large drizzle of olive oil.
How to store this Mediterranean pasta recipe?
This Mediterranean pasta recipe is not only easy but perfect for meal prep. Feel free to make it ahead of time and store each part of the dish in a separate container.
Store everything in the fridge in an air-tight container for up to a week and in the freezer for up to 3 months. I wouldn’t freeze the salad because the texture of the feta and tomatoes will alter.
What to pair Mediterranean pasta recipes with?
I love pairing pasta with wine and this Mediterranean pasta recipe is no different. I love to eat it with a glass of white wine and a soft homemade bread, like these delicious Honey Butter Parker Rolls.
Harissa Chicken Orzo Pasta
- Large pot for boiling water
- Large Skillet
- Mixing bowls
- Clean side plate
For the Harissa Chicken Marinade
- 2 Chicken Breasts cut into small strips
- 1/2 Cup Harissa
- 1/4 Cup Olive oil
- 2 Tsp Salt
- 1 Tsp Lemon Pepper
For the Orzo Pasta
- 2 Cups Dry Orzo Pasta
- 1 Onion
- 2 Tbsp Garlic Chopped
- 1 Tsp Cumin
- 2 Tsp Sweet Paprika
- 1 Tsp Fresh Thyme
- 1 Tbsp Mint chopped
- Salt and pepper to taste
For the salad:
- 3-4 Roma tomatoes cut into large cubes
- 1 Cup Feta Cheese cut into large cubes
- 1/4 Cup Kalamata Olives
- 2 Tbsp Olive oil
- 1 Tbsp Red Wine Vinegar
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- 1 Tbsp Fresh Mint optional
To make the marinade:
- In a large mixing bowl combine the chicken, harissa, olive oil, salt and pepper. Make sure the chicken is submerged in the marinade. Cover the bowl with a plastic wrap and marinate in the fridge for at least 2 hours.
To make the orzo:
- Bring a large pot with tater to boil. Salt generously and add the orzo. Boil until al dente (about 15-20 minutes) or follow the instructions on the package. Set aside 1 cup of the pasta water before draining.
- While the orzo is boiling heat a large skillet to medium heat and drizzle with olive oil. Add the onion and cook for about 10 minutes or until transparant. Add the garlic and cook for additional 1-2 minutes.
- Drain the pasta and add to the skillet with the onion and garlic. Season with the sweet paprika, cumin, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Stir to combine. Adjust the flavor at the end when you add the rest of the ingredients.
- Add the chicken strips and mix well. Adjust the seasoning and if seems too dry, add a little bit of the saved pasta water (1/4 cup at a time) and let it absorb.
To make the salad:
- In a large mixing bowl combine tomato, feta, olives, olive oil, and red wine vinegar. Season lightly with salt and pepper and adjust the seasoning by tasting the dish. Add on top of the orzo and chicken.