Buffalo chicken transformed

Invented in Buffalo, N.Y., during the ’60s, Buffalo chicken wings have become a national favorite. Big surprise! If fat is where the flavor is, and if everyone’s a sucker for flavor, Buffalo chicken couldn’t lose.

It starts with the fattiest part of the bird — the wings — which then are deep-fried, tossed into a vat of melted butter and hot sauce, and finally dipped in blue cheese sauce.

Yikes! Think of the calories! Single servings of Buffalo wings with blue cheese sauce can pack more than 1,000 calories. And there just appetizers!

So I decided to transform it into a weeknight meal. Using all of the dish’s signature elements, and adding orzo or couscous and peas, I think I succeeded, mostly by turning finger food into a dinner-in-a-pot pasta dish. My version is quick to make, big on flavor, and much lighter.

I swapped out chicken wings for boneless, skinless chicken.

After cubing the chicken, I sauteed it in a nonstick pan, and flavored it with hot sauce. The nonstick pan allows us to use a lone tablespoon of butter. For the pasta, I like orzo, which looks like large grains of rice. After partially boiling the orzo or couscous, I toss some frozen peas into the pot. I used to think that peas were just a sweet and starc hy vegetable with little nutrition.

Sara Moulton was executive chef at Gourmet magazine for nearly 25 years, and spent a decade hosting several Food Network shows.