Last Updated on September 8, 2021 by Chef Mireille
Greek Orzo Stew is a quick and easy one pot recipe. This Manestra Recipe gets done in just 30 minutes making it the perfect easy weeknight dinner.
Although I made this version with chicken, you can add whatever meat you have around. If you have some leftover already cooked meat like chicken, beef, lamb or pork – it can easily be added to this stew.
You can also keep it Vegetarian if you like and add mushrooms or eggplant to it, if you like.
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Manestra – Greek Orzo Stew is a classic comfort food from the Greek Isles. Just like the Italian islands – Sicily, Sardinia, etc. – the Middle Eastern influence is strong in the cuisine of the islands. Figs, dates, orange blossom water and smoky spices like cumin, cinnamon, coriander and paprika are more common than the rosemary and parsley dominated cuisine of the mainland.
Manestra is poor man’s food. The main ingredients are orzo and tomatoes and whatever scraps of meat lying about would traditionally be added to it – anything from leftover roast lamb to ground beef or chicken. It is classic comfort food. Although I used Muir Glen canned tomatoes, it can also be made with fresh tomatoes. Just a few simple ingredients and this traditional dish is ready in less than 30 minutes.
I hope you have enjoyed this week’s exploration into Greek cuisine. With the dishes I’ve presented this week, a complete Greek dinner party is ready to be enjoyed.
- Appetizer – Keftedes – Greek Lamb Meatballs with Mint Yogurt Sauce
- Main Course – Manestra
- Dessert – Galaktoboureko – Semolina Cake
This brought me back to my younger days when I was a regular in Astoria, New York City’s Greek enclave of the 90’s. I haven’t had Greek food in quite a while and I forgot how much I love it. I need to start cooking more Greek again!
Just a few simple ingredients and Greek Manestra Recipe will be on your dinner table within 30 minutes.
- chicken tenderloin (or chicken breast)
- fresh oregano leaves (or dried oregano)
- olive oil
- canned crushed tomatoes (or fresh tomatoes)
- ground cinnamon
- aleppo pepper
- salt and pepper
- sumac (optional garnish)
How to Make Manestra
- Cook the chicken.
- Add tomatoes, orzo and aromatics.
- Cook until done.
Ready in under 30 minutes, it’s the perfect #onepotmeal for weeknights!
- 1 lb. chicken tenderloin cut into bite size pieces
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 tablespoon fresh oregano leaves
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 finely chopped onion
- 28 oz. can ground tomatoes or crushed tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon aleppo pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 1 lb. orzo
- salt and pepper to taste
- sumac optional garnish
- Finely chop the garlic with the oregano leaves. Toss with the chicken and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. For optimal flavor, marinate for at least 1 hour, but not absolutely necessary.
- In a large pot, heat remaining oil. Add chicken and onion. Cook on high heat for 5 minutes stirring occasionally, until the onions turn translucent.
- Add tomatoes, paprika, cinnamon, aleppo pepper, sugar and 5 cups water. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil.
- Add orzo and cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently with a metal spoon as the orzo has a tendency to stick to the bottom of the pot.
- Add salt and pepper, to taste. Stir to combine.
- To serve, garnish with sumac or a quick squeeze of lemon juice.
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