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EATING well

Cream Buffalo Chicken and Peas: out with wings, not the zing

Cream Buffalo Chicken and Peas keeps the spice but turns to orzo, peas and celery for a complete meal.

Associated Press

Cream Buffalo Chicken and Peas keeps the spice but turns to orzo, peas and celery for a complete meal.

Invented in Buffalo, N.Y., during the '60s, Buffalo chicken wings have become a national favorite.

A mad scientist dreaming up the Frankenstein of comfort foods might have come up with something very like Buffalo chicken wings.

I hate to be a spoilsport, but yikes! Single servings of Buffalo wings with blue cheese sauce can pack more than 1,000 calories. So I decided to tackle this monster and transform it into a weeknight meal.

First, I swapped chicken wings for boneless, skinless chicken.

For the pasta, I like orzo, which looks like large grains of rice. If you can't find orzo, try whole wheat Israeli (the large variety) couscous. I toss some frozen peas into the pot and finally top it off with celery, another of the classic recipe's staple ingredients. Tempting though it may be to do so, do not leave out the celery. It contributes its signature crunch and works as a cooling counterpart to the spicy pasta.

CREAM BUFFALO CHICKEN AND PEAS

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

8 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into ½-inch cubes

1 to 2 tablespoons hot sauce or to taste

8 ounces whole wheat orzo or whole wheat Israeli couscous

2 cups frozen peas

¾ cup low-sodium chicken broth

3 ounces blue cheese, crumbled

1 cup finely chopped celery

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

While the water heats, in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the chicken and cook, stirring, until just cooked through, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in the hot sauce and a hefty pinch of salt, then set aside.

Add the orzo or couscous to the boiling water, stir and cook according to package instructions until it is almost al dente. Add the peas, then return the water to a boil. As soon as the water returns to a boil, drain and add the peas and pasta to the skillet. Return the skillet to medium heat, add the chicken broth and bring to a simmer. Cook for 1 minute, or until the pasta is tender.

Add the blue cheese and simmer until the cheese is melted and the sauce has thickened. Transfer to 6 bowls and top each portion with some of the celery. Serve immediately.

Makes 6 servings.

Nutrition information per serving: 290 calories (70 calories from fat, 24 percent of total calories); 8g fat (4.5g saturated, 0g trans fats); 40mg cholesterol; 3g carbohydrates; 6g fiber; 3g sugar; 20g protein; 440mg sodium.

Cream Buffalo Chicken and Peas: out with wings, not the zing 03/19/14 [Last modified: Wednesday, March 19, 2014 5:10pm]
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