I prepared this shrimp orzo from Ina’sAt Home cookbook a few years back when hosting a cousin girls’ weekend in Los Angeles. The fresh herbs, lemon, and feta cheese make this pasta and shrimp salad explode and because the shrimp is roasted it caramelizes into something sinful. I’ve been making for parties ever since and rarely does a gathering go by when I’m not asked for the recipe. I thought shrimp orzo was so obvious because I’ve been making for years, but it’s so necessary to share at crunchtime.
Here’s why it’s a great go-to.
I know you all can dabble with recipes and you get incredibly creative with ingredients you have on hand, but if ever one was to follow a recipe down to the last pinch, down to the last whisk and wink, it should be one ofIna’s. I’ve swooned over her reliable recipes before likehere,here,andhere. With good reason because she tests these puppies multiple times and then some. Also, she has good taste; I mean she really has good taste as in a good palate. True, our Barefoot Contessa seems to throw a stick of butter in everything from biscuits to mint juleps, but she also favors garden fresh ingredients and weeknight cooking which makes her a crunchtime hero. Within her vast library of recipes there are plenty of healthy, easy meals to make at home.
The salad starts with roasted shrimp,but with the orzo pasta filler addition, you don’t have to break the bank. No mayo means it lasts longer on a picnic table without the threat of botulism – and you know how I like to test the expiration dates of all my foods build up the kids’ bacteria-fighting properties to not let any food go to waste. No lie, I ate this salad one time at two weeks and I didn’t die or get sick, in fact it was nearly as delish as the day I made it. Does that tell you more about the salad or about me? You see even though this recipe comes from Ina’s At Home cookbook, it’s more of a party salad or for a family larger than mine, but sometimes I make it just for us and well, it makes a lot, so we eat it over many days.
So, I encourage you to try this out for your next summer gathering or At Home for your family as a Mediterranean light meal hits nearly every food group in the pyramid.
shrimp and orzo salad, a summer party favor
preptime: 30 minutes serves 6-8-10
Good olive oil
3/4 lb orzo pasta (rice-shaped pasta)
1/2 c freshly squeezed lemon juice (3 lemons)
Freshly ground black pepper
2 lbs (16 to 18 count) shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 c minced scallions, white and green parts
1 c chopped fresh dill
1 c chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 hothouse cucumber, unpeeled, seeded, and medium-diced
1/2 c small-diced red onion
3/4 lb good feta cheese, large diced
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- Fill a large pot with water, add 1 tablespoon of salt and a splash of oil, and bring the water to a boil. Add the orzo and simmer for 9 to 11 minutes, stirring occasionally, until it’s cooked al dente. Drain and pour into a large bowl.
- Whisk together the lemon juice, 1/2 cup olive oil, 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon of pepper.
- Pour over the hot pasta and stir well.
- Meanwhile, place the shrimp on a sheet pan, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss to combine and spread out in a single layer. Roast for 5 to 6 minutes, until the shrimp are cooked through. Don’t overcook!
- Add the shrimp to the orzo and then add the scallions, dill, parsley, cucumber, onion, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper. Toss well.
- Add the feta and stir carefully. Set aside at room temperature for 1 hour to allow the flavors to blend, or refrigerate overnight. If refrigerated, taste again for seasonings and bring back to room temperature before serving.
- use precooked, prepared shrimp (thaw & blot dry)
- use crumbled feta