Does a Mediterranean diet appeal to you? Then these two recipes might be worth a try. The first from Cook’s Country, Orzo with Shrimp, Feta and Lemon dish will grab your attention. Cooking the orzo pilaf-style gives it extra flavor and allows you to control the slightly creamy consistency.
To keep this meatless, use seafood/shellfish stock as opposed to chicken broth. Also, if the broth you use is on the bland side, use 4 cups of the stock and omit the water. If, like our homemade shellfish stock, it is intense, dilute it with two cups of water.
Adjust the amounts of olives and feta to suit your own preferences. One version of the recipe indicated only a half cup of Kalamatas and only 2 ounces of feta, while the list below indicates double of each.
Because we cooked our meal in a 10-inch-wide nonstick pan, the shrimp took an extra two minutes to become opaque. Keep that in mind if using less than a 12-inch skillet.
Orzo with Shrimp, Feta and Lemon
- 1 Tbsp. grated lemon zest, plus 1 Tbsp. juice
- Salt and pepper
- 1 ½ lbs. extra-large shrimp (21 to 25 per pound), peeled and deveined
- 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
- 1 onion, chopped fine
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 cups orzo
- 2 cups seafood (or chicken) broth
- 2 cups water
- 1 cup pitted Kalamata olives, chopped coarse
- 4 oz. feta cheese, crumbled (1 cup)
- Fresh parsley, for garnish
- Mix lemon zest, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper together. Pat shrimp dry with paper towels and toss with lemon-salt mixture to coat; set aside.
- Heat 1 tablespoon oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Add onion and cook until softened, about 4 minutes.
- Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
- Stir in orzo and cook, stirring frequently, until orzo is coated with oil and lightly browned, about 4 minutes.
- Add broth and water, bring to boil, and cook, uncovered, until orzo is al dente, about 6 minutes.
- Stir in olives, 1/2 cup feta, and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Reduce heat to medium-low, nestle shrimp into orzo, cover, and cook until shrimp are pink and cooked through, about 5 minutes.
- Sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup feta over top and drizzle with extra oil. Serve.
The second recipe, Baked Shrimp and Orzo with Feta and Tomatoes, is another Mediterranean-inspired shrimp dish similar to the Orzo with Shrimp, Feta and Lemon above, however this version gets started on the cooktop and then baked in the oven. It only calls for 1 pound of shrimp but we had 1 1⁄2 pounds and decided to use it all. The 12-inch skillet was brimming full. Our other change was incorporating homemade shellfish stock for the chicken broth.
To build in plenty of Mediterranean flavor, start by sautéing chopped onion and red bell pepper, to soften them before adding in minced garlic and oregano. To guarantee perfectly cooked shrimp and pasta, sauté the orzo in the aromatics to unlock its toasty notes. The crumbled saffron threads, though not traditional, introduce a sunny hue and warm, complex flavor.
Chicken (or shellfish) broth and the drained juice from a can of diced tomatoes are then stirred in; as the orzo cooks to al dente, its releases starch (similar to a risotto) creating a sauce with a subtly creamy texture. To prevent the shrimp from overcooking, stir them right into the orzo, along with the reserved tomatoes and frozen peas, and transfer the skillet to the oven to cook through gently. A sprinkling of feta before baking reinforces the dish’s Greek flavors and promises an appealing browned, cheesy crust.
Make sure that the orzo is al dente, or slightly firm to the bite; otherwise it may overcook in the oven. If using smaller or larger shrimp, the cooking times may vary accordingly. You can leave the shrimp tails on, if desired. The small amount of saffron makes a big difference to the flavor and look of the dish, so be sure to include it. You will need a 12-inch oven-safe nonstick skillet for this recipe.
Baked Shrimp and Orzo with Feta and Tomatoes
- 1 lb. extra-large shrimp (21 to 25 per pound), peeled, deveined, and tails removed
- Salt and pepper
- 1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 red onion, chopped fine
- 1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and cut into ½-inch pieces
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tsp. minced fresh oregano or ½ teaspoon dried
- 2 cups (12 oz.) orzo
- Pinch saffron threads, crumbled
- 3 cups chicken or shellfish broth
- 1 (14.5-oz.) can diced tomatoes, drained with juice reserved
- ½ cup frozen peas
- 3 oz. feta cheese, crumbled (¾ cup)
- 2 scallions, sliced thin
- Lemon wedges
- Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Pat shrimp dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper; cover and refrigerate until needed.
- Heat oil in 12-inch oven-safe nonstick skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion and bell pepper and cook until vegetables are softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in garlic and oregano and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in orzo and saffron and cook, stirring often, until orzo is lightly browned, about 4 minutes.
- Stir in broth and reserved tomato juice, bring to simmer, and cook, stirring occasionally, until orzo is al dente, 10 to 12 minutes.
- Stir in shrimp, tomatoes, and peas, then sprinkle feta evenly over top. Transfer skillet to oven and bake until shrimp are cooked through and feta is lightly browned, about 20 minutes.
- Remove skillet from oven (skillet handle will be hot). Sprinkle scallions over top and serve with lemon wedges.
Adapted from a recipe from More Mediterranean by America’s Test Kitchen