When my husband and I first married in 2005, Abba was working in public health and I worked in communications at a private school. We lived in a teeny, tiny one-bedroom basement apartment in Atlanta – in the hippest, most-walkable and cool little in-town neighborhood. Such happy memories! Parks, grocery stores, amazing restaurants and shops, fantastic neighbors were a stone-throw away.
When we both came home from work, the ingredients were already purchased, prepared and ready to come together in a scrumptious dish.These were the days before kids – somehow, life seemed so busy then – now, life is really hectic.
There were a few recipes that Abba really adored. I put these recipes in our weekly “rotation.” One recipe we did not tire of was a shrimp orzo dish with basil and tomatoes from Cooking Light. I haven’t made this exact version in years, but it inspired an entire reign of orzo pasta recipes at Curls and Carrots.
Recently, I came across a succulent and salubrious Chicken Orzo Salad recipe developed by Liz at My Favourite Pastime. This dish reminded me of Abba’s beloved shrimp orzo and inspired me to bring it back into “the rotation.”
This meal was delicious with a large, fresh, crisp green salad and a savory, bright, crisp bruschetta of sweet fresh basil, pungent goat gouda and velvety, soft chèvre.
Needless to say, Abba adores pasta with vigor – and was elated to see a mound of colorful, nutritious and tasty orzo on his plate once again. So, let’s get cooking!
Then, prepare the orzo to al dente.
Now, toss the orzo with olive oil and reserve. Keep warm.
Sauté the onion, peppers, mushrooms and parsley stems.
Add the garlic and cook just until fragrant. Taste and season the dish accordingly.
Add the cherry tomatoes and parsley leaves…
… And incorporate the lemon juice, pasta water and oregano.
Next, put the shrimp in the pan…
… Along with the cooked orzo.
Stir all ingredients well and cook just until warmed through.
Taste and season with additional salt and pepper, if necessary.
Place the orzo on warm plates. Sprinkle with desired toppings, such as grated parmigiano reggiano, sliced castelvetrano olives and red chile flakes.
Run the plates briefly under a preheated broiler to melt the cheese to unctuous, oozing perfection…
… Or enjoy the orzo unadulterated, untouched and as it is.
It is a flavorful, satisfying and positively toothsome either way.
Littlest Guy and Snu Mago also relish in a piping hot bowl for dinner!
Abba never fails to take leftovers for a healthy lunch at the hospital… Provided the meal is packed ahead of time and a reminder note is placed on his briefcase.
I hope that you enjoy this dish as much as our family does!
Colorful Shrimp Orzo
Very loosely “adapted” from a Cooking Light recipe of many years past.
12 ounces small shrimp, halved
8 ounces baby portabella mushrooms, sliced
1 large yellow, sweet onion, such as Vidalia, roughly chopped
1 each: yellow and orange bell pepper, seeded and diced small
1/2 cup parsley stems, finely chopped
4 cloves of garlic, finely minced
2 cups parsley leaves, from one bunch of parsley, chopped
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 cup of cherry tomatoes, cut into fourths (measure after cutting)
8 ounces Italian semolina orzo
1/2 cup of pasta water, reserved from orzo after it cooks
Tbsp. fresh-squeezed lemon juice
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 tsp. extra virgin olive oil, to toss with orzo
2 tsp. extra virgin olive oil, to toss with shrimp
1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, to sauté vegetables
Optional Toppings: grated parmigiano reggiano, sliced castelvetrano olives, red chile flakes
- Season shrimp with salt and pepper, to taste. Toss with two teaspoons olive oil. Roast in a 450°F or 232°C oven for 3 minutes, just until pink and cooked. Reserve in a bowl. Cover to keep warm.
- Prepare orzo to “al dente,” according to package directions. Make sure to salt the water well. Drain and reserve 1/2 cup of pasta water. Toss orzo in a bowl with 1 tsp. of olive oil and reserve. Cover to keep warm.
- Over medium heat, heat one tablespoon of olive oil. Sauté the onion, peppers, mushrooms and parsley stems until the onion is translucent and the peppers and mushrooms have nice color, about ten minutes.
- Add minced garlic and cook over medium-low heat for one minute, stirring, just until fragrant. Season dish with salt and pepper, to taste.
- Stir-in the pasta water, lemon juice, cherry tomatoes, parsley leaves, oregano and orzo. Cook over medium-low heat for about five minutes, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is mostly absorbed by the orzo and the dish is warm. Taste and season with salt or pepper, if necessary.
- Serve and enjoy on warm plates. Sprinkle with parmigiano reggiano cheese, sliced castelvetrano olives and red chile flakes, if desired.
- Run plates briefly under the broiler to melt the cheese, if you wish.
©Shanna Koenigsdorf Ward, shannaward.com (2013), unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without expressed and written permission from this blog’s author, Shanna Koenigsdorf Ward, and/or owner is strictly and completely prohibited.