Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Roasted Shrimp & Orzo salad

I was instantly addicted to this salad the first time I ate it, and ever since then it never fails to disappoint every time I make it.  The recipe comes from Ina Garten and it introduces a few genius techniques that make it extra delicious.  The first is to drench the hot, freshly cooked orzo in the lemon vinaigrette, causing it to soak up the flavor instantly.  The second is to roast the shrimp in olive oil, salt, and pepper.  This is by far the easiest way to cook a perfect shrimp and they taste amazing.  I had a hard time saving enough to toss into the salad.  The remaining ingredients- a combination of herbs, veggies, and feta cheese really make the dish come together.  We took this to a 4th of July cook-out this year and it was a huge hit.  I only changed a few slight things from Ina's recipe, and I assure you it turns out just as delicious!  The end result is a light and refreshing dish that could be served as a side dish or a main course.  
  • 1 pound orzo pasta (rice-shaped pasta)
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (should take about 3 lemons)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 pounds medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 cup minced scallions, white and green parts
  • 1 cup chopped fresh dill
  • 1 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and medium-diced
  • 1/2 cup small-diced red onion
  • 1/2 pound block of feta cheese, medium-diced
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper


Fill a large pot with water, add 1 tablespoon of salt and bring the water to a boil. Add the orzo and simmer for about 1 minute less than the recommended lowest number of minutes.  (If the box says 9-11 minutes cook them for 8) This will help you avoid over-cooking the pasta, considering it will keep cooking a bit more sitting in the pot.  While the orzo is cooking, whisk together the lemon juice, 1/3 cup olive oil, 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon of pepper. When the pasta is done, drain and return to the pot.  Immediately pour the lemon juice mixture over the hot pasta and stir well.  Keep orzo in the pot off heat to let it cool down while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

To cook the shrimp, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.  Place the shrimp on a foil-covered sheet pan, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss to combine and spread out in a single layer. Roast for about 4 minutes, until the shrimp are cooked through. You can tell once they start turning pink and have a somewhat firm touch to them that they are done.  Always err on the side of under- you can cook them for a minute longer if needed but you can't undo it once they are overcooked.  Try not to eat them all straight out from the oven!!
Add the shrimp to the orzo and then add the scallions, dill, parsley, cucumber, onion, 1 teaspoons salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Toss well and taste for more salt.  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, bring back to room temperature before serving.

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