September 9, 2012 by Lauren
I’m answering my first “Ask Lauren!” I had someone write in asking about some creative things to do with Orzo. I had this recipe up my sleeve, but I’ll post some other ideas at the bottom. Orzo is a pasta that Italians use as baby food (they get them started young). This recipe has gotten me more “oh my god, I need this recipe!” comments than anything else I make. It’s terrific to take to barbecues or just to keep in your fridge for the whole week. I find it gets better with age. I also make it without the shrimp when it’s just a side dish. That makes it affordable and impressive. Do make sure you use fresh dill, though, as it truly makes a huge difference.
Click on any picture below to see them larger and get a play by play (click the picture to close and return):
Shrimp, Orzo and Dill Pasta SaladInactive Cook Time: 1 hour Active Cook Time: 25 minutes
- 3/4 lb orzo, cooked al dente (or use the whole box)
- 1 english cucumber, cut into 1/4″ sections
- 1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
- 3 green onions, chopped
- 1/4 cup fresh dill, chopped
- 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
- 3 tablespoons dijon mustard
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 3/4 lb feta, crumbled
- 16 medium shrimp (about a pound)
- salt and pepper
- In heavily salted water, cook orzo until al dente, then drain and let cool. I usually let it sit in the sink for about an hour. Or just stir it around until it’s coolish and use it.
- After cleaning shrimp, toss in olive oil and a little salt and pepper. Either grill or pan sear, about 2 minutes per side. Make sure they’re cooled before mixed in.
- Once cooled, combine the orzo, cucumbers, onions and tomatoes in a large bowl.
- In a small bowl, whisk the dill, vinegar, mustard and oil; season with salt and pepper.
- Pour the dressing over the orzo mixture, fold in feta cheese and shrimp.
If you’re just doing this as a quick side, cook a 1/4 lb orzo, and toss with any veggies you have, even just the dressing would do. Orzo is pretty bland on its own, so it needs some sort of dressing. If you did rosemary instead of dill, a balsamic vinegar and olive oil dressing would be great. I know lemon by itself might be a little bland, but mix it with the dijon vinaigrette (use the lemon zest, not juice) and you might be surprised. You could also get away with a pesto, too!