I am in the kitchen making a scrumptious dinner and my kids are opening and closing the refrigerator and cabinets the entire time scrounging for food. As I’m tripping over toys and little feet I’m reminding them, “I’m making dinner! It’s almost ready!”
Throughout all the constant interruptions it finally gets on the table and I hear, “I want a peanut butter sandwich!” So I compromise (word of the day from my son’s behavioral aide) and I say, “Okay, one bite of mac and I’ll make you a sandwich.”
My oldest child had seconds. My finicky shark ate everything except the chicken (sometimes he’s a vegetarian), my youngest boy ate all the orzo, and my little girl ate it all! My biggest fish had three helpings. I had to stop at one but…oh-my-goodness…
Now I basically just threw a bunch of yummy food together with what was in my kitchen staples, but shop for these ingredients again I will, because the proper ratio of the five cheeses is what made this meal! And no heavy cream was used whatsoever! Just reduced fat cream cheese, chicken broth and a mix of cheeses lent to this dish’s irresistible creaminess.
So get to it! Make this!! You must!! It literally only takes about 30 minutes from start to finish!
Five Cheese Chicken and Cauliflower Orzo (Grown Up Mac and Cheese-Light)
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Number of servings: 8
- 1 lb package orzo pasta, uncooked
- 14 oz chicken breast
- 1 head cauliflower, roughly chopped
- 1/4 cup white onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, pressed
- 1 Tb canola oil
- 4 Tb butter, divided
- 2 quarts water
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 Tb chicken bouillon
- 4 oz Neufchâtel cheese
- 2 oz part skim mozzarella cheese, fresh grated
- 3 oz Colby jack cheese, fresh grated
- 3 oz cheddar cheese, fresh grated
- 1 oz parmagiana reggiano cheese, fresh grated plus more for garnish
- 2 Tb chopped basil, for garnish
- In a large pot, bring 2 quarts of water to a boil. Add the chicken (and dash salt), and reduce heat to medium high. Cover and boil until cooked through, about 10-12 minutes.
- Meanwhile prep the vegetables by roughly chopping the cauliflower, dicing the onion and pressing the garlic.
- Then in a large skillet with a lid, melt 2 Tb butter with the canola oil over medium heat. Add the cauliflower and sauté about 5 minutes.
- Add the diced onion and pressed garlic. Sprinkle with 1/2 tsp salt. Sauté for another 3 minutes. Reduce heat to low, cover and steam about 3 minutes while the chicken finishes cooking.
- Remove the chicken from the pot (do not drain!) and carefully dice it (it will be hot!).
- Add the chicken bouillon to the skillet. Add the diced chicken and the reserved cooking liquid. Stir in the dry pasta. Cover and simmer on medium low heat until most of the liquid is absorbed and the pasta is tender, about 7-8 minutes, stirring halfway through cooking time.
- Reduce heat back to low. Stir in the neufchatel cream cheese and remaining butter and combine until smooth. Stir in the remaining cheeses until melted. Remove from heat and cool slightly before serving. The sauce will thicken additionally upon standing.
- Spoon onto plates to serve. Sprinkle with additional grated Romano cheese and fresh basil, if desired.