It’s that time of year. Farmer’s markets are overflowing, it’s hot, and you don’t feel like turning on the oven for dinner. Seems like someone’s grilling every weekend, and it never hurts to have a fantastic side dish–that isn’t a dessert–in your back pocket, ready to bring. I’ve been craving this simple, light shrimp and orzo salad all summer long. It’s healthy, lemony, and can be both a great side dish and a main (and a great leftover lunch… just sayin’). Just add a side salad, maybe some bursting ripe tomatoes simply dressed? Can’t go wrong. I love to buy shrimp already peeled and deveined, but with the tails on, from the fishmonger at our farmers’ market, but I have also had great luck buying readily available shrimp from Whole Foods. Whatever’s freshest and most sustainable is what I’ll cook. And it’s an added bonus that beautiful fresh shrimp from the Gulf–which I miss dearly, living in Los Angeles–have been showing up and on sale, recently! It’s a sign.
Greek Shrimp and Orzo SaladPrint This
- 1 pound dried orzo
- 2 1/2 pounds fresh shrimp, peeled and deveined (but with the tails on)
- 1 1/4 cup scallions, chopped (both the white and green parts)
- 1 1/4 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 1 1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
- 2 English cucumbers, left unpeeled but seeded and diced
- 1 red onion, diced
- 1 pound feta cheese, crumbled into large chunks
- 3/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1/3 cup olive oil, plus more for roasting the shrimp
- 1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 2 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
- 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
- 2 lemons, thinly sliced into rings
Preheat the oven to 425°. Spread all the shrimp, patted dry with a paper towel, onto a half-sheet tray and drizzle with the supplemental olive oil, and additional salt and pepper.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot to boil. Add the orzo and simmer for 8 to 10 minutes, until it is al dente, or according to the package directions. Drain but do not rinse. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, lemon zest, olive oil, Dijon mustard, salt and pepper. Add the orzo and toss to combine–the warm pasta will soak up some of the dressing.
Roast the shrimp for four to five minutes, until just cooked through. Remove from the oven and add to the orzo, along with the herbs, onion, and cucumber. Stir carefully to combine, until the mixture is evenly distributed and the dressing lightly coats everything. When the mixture has cooled to room temperature, add the feta cheese and optional thinly sliced lemons and stir to combine. Serve chilled or at room temperature.
This is a fantastic summer lunch served over a bed of Bibb or butter lettuce, with a little additional dressing. In fact, the dressing is so flavorful that it makes a great accompaniment to just about any summer salad! (And a great marinade for chicken, or a firm-fleshed fish, such as swordfish or halibut.)