This is not actually Romanian, nor does it have rice. It's very loosely based on a delicious, simple, and incredibly comforting dish that a Romanian friend, a talented filmmaker named Ouana, would make to take the chill off a snowy Wyoming night after shoveling the driveway clear. The peppers, paprika, and sour cream (or my favorite substitute, yogurt) are pretty clearly Eastern European, and the pasta was just what she served with it. But given the almost international tradition of chicken and rice (of some sort), I thought orzo would echo that nicely.
Romanian Chicken and "Rice"
8 oz. whole wheat orzo
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 chicken breast, cut into 1/2-in strips
1 teaspoon paprika
1 small yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 small green bell pepper, thinly sliced
2 small red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, minced
12 cup dry white wine
salt and pepper to taste
generous handful of fresh basil leaves, chiffonaded
sour cream or plain yogurt for serving
Cook the pasta in well-salted water according to package directions. Drain except for 1/2 cup of reserved cooking liquid. Set aside.
In a large frying pan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. When it shimmers, add the chicken breast strips along with some salt and the paprika and stir fry until almost cooked through. Remove to a plate with a slotted spoon.
Add the onion and peppers to the hot oil and lower the heat to medium-low. Season with salt and stir. Allow to simmer until very soft, stirring occasionally, which should take about 20 minutes. Add the wine, garlic, and chicken to the pan and stir to coat. Season with salt and black pepper to taste.
When the garlic becomes fragrant and some of the wine has reduced, add the pasta and reserved water. Stir thoroughly to mix and allow to simmer another 5 minutes to allow flavors to meld and liquid to reduce slightly. Stir in the fresh chopped basil and serve in bowls topped with sour cream/yogurt.