Mediterranean Shrimp and Orzo Salad

4 Apr

Stefano’s school has spring break this week, so I have been able to spend much more time with him than I usually do. My gym time and blogging has been kind of thrown out the window as a result, but he is so worth it. Getting to spend time with him during the week is such a luxury – we can even make dinner together! Last night we put together a meal that was too good not to share and it was so unbelievably easy to make – we cooked, ate, and cleaned up in under an hour! Never mind the fact that both of us are vacuums when it comes to eating and it may take normal people a little bit longer to eat, but it’s still wonderfully quick dinner that feels like it should have taken more time than it did.

Orzo is one of my favorite pastas. It’s widely used around the Mediterranean basin and is the base for the best comfort soup of all-time, an Egyptian recipe called Shurbat Lisan Asfour, or Bird Tongue Soup. It’s named for the shape of the noodles, which look like the tongues of little birds. What is great about orzo is its versatility: you can use it to make a soup more hearty, as a rice subsitute, or as a pasta. Orzo, which actually means barley in Italian and can thus be quite confusing, is called risoni (big rice) in Italy. It goes by kritharáki and manéstra in Greek cooking and is known as arpa şehriye in Turkish kitchens.

Naturally, I like to pair it with Mediterranean flavors and this dish is a perfect blend of light and refreshing ingredients and won’t leave you feeling “heavy” the way many pastas do. This recipe is very forgiving and I encourage you to play around with it: maybe substitute grilled zucchini for cucumber or try sundried tomatoes in lieu of fresh ones. What is brilliant about Mediterranean cooking is the ingredients are simple but the flavor combinations produce a final meal that is multifaceted and complex.

Mediterranean Shrimp and Orzo Salad

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Serves 4 (6 if used as a side)

Ingredients:

IMG_2324[1]

For the pasta:
  • (1) one pound bag of orzo pasta (99 cents at Trader Joe’s!)
  • one pint cherry tomatoes
  • 4 Persian cucumbers (or two English cucumbers)
  • 8 ounces feta cheese, crumbled (we start with the big chunk and crumble it ourselves, but you can always buy it pre-crumbled)
  • 1 pound raw shrimp, deveined
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (or just use a tablespoon of pre-minced)
  • Parsley or basil for garnish (optional)
For the dressing*:
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons whole grain dijon mustard (this has a kick!)
  • 2 tablespoons hummus
  • freshly ground black pepper

*I really played around with the measurements of the sauce so they’re not exact – feel free to fiddle and find a combination of flavors that is most appealing to you.

IMG_2322[1]

Instructions:

  1. Cook orzo according to instructions on package (it cooks like pasta) then drain well.
  2. Sautee shrimp in butter and garlic. This is a fast process so be careful not to overcook the shrimp!
  3. Add orzo to large mixing bowl and top with cooked shrimp, diced cucumber, sliced tomatoes, and crumbled feta cheese.
  4. In a separate bowl, add lemon juice, EVOO, mustard, hummus, and black pepper and mix until well combined. The texture should be easily pour-able, but not too runny.
  5. Pour dressing over the orzo pasta and mix until the pasta, shrimp, and veggies are coated.
  6. Top with more feta or garnish (parsley or basil would work very well).

Buon appetito!

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7 Responses to “Mediterranean Shrimp and Orzo Salad”

  1. rubyrites April 4, 2013 at 11:37 am #

    This looks soo good.

    • Sara @ Magia e Pasta April 4, 2013 at 11:40 am #

      Thank you! It tastes better than it looks 😉

      • rubyrites April 4, 2013 at 11:41 am #

        Well then I have to try it now for sure!!!

  2. Bunny, C. April 4, 2013 at 6:33 pm #

    Yummers! I just came across your blog – lucky me! – and I’m having such a good time reading through your archives 🙂 Thanks for writing about such great things, like the thigh gap topic.. I look forward to what the future holds 🙂

    • Sara @ Magia e Pasta April 4, 2013 at 9:59 pm #

      Thank you so much for stopping by and for your kind words! I went to take a look at your blog and I’m enthralled – your writing style is captivating. Keep it up!

  3. mary @ minutes per mile April 5, 2013 at 5:24 am #

    good idea with the hummus as part of the dressing! i wouldn’t have thought of that!

    • Sara @ Magia e Pasta April 5, 2013 at 2:03 pm #

      Thank you! At first I was worried that it would thicken it up too much, but it worked out wonderfully and added a nice creaminess to the sauce.

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