Thursday, March 26, 2009

Orzo and Shrimp Salad with Asparagus

Please don't be mad at me...I know last week I promised to make my oven baked catfish. But asparagus was on sale this week...and I love asparagus. I had this particular recipe set aside for a Friday during Lent, and decided to make it this week, since fresh asparagus obviously won't last but a few days in the fridge.

So, if you'll please forgive me...I promise to make the catfish next week. I forgiven? Thank you...I appreciate your understanding...and your support of my humble little blog :-)

I found the original recipe on, but modified it just a bit (added more shrimp, and used regular balsamic because I didn't find white balsamic in the store). I used about 10 ounces of orzo and 1 1/2 pounds of shrimp since David's not a big pasta person, so I added more shrimp for his sake. Pics to follow sometime this weekend.

Orzo and Shrimp Salad with Asparagus

1 1/2 pounds large shrimp
1 clove garlic, minced
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 quarts water
8 ounces orzo pasta
1 pound fresh asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces
2 green onions, chopped
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons honey mustard
2 tablespoons minced fresh basil
salt and pepper to taste

Peel and devein the shrimp, reserving the shells.

We're going to use them to make a shrimp stock, and boil the orzo in it--this will give the pasta more flavor that it might have otherwise ( i.e.--cooking it in plain water).

To trim the asparagus, just hold the stem in your hand, and bend it gently until it snaps--it will break where the stem is tender (the bottom part is woody and fibrous). If you want make it look pretty, cut it at angle.

Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the shrimp and garlic, and saute for about 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently to keep the garlic from burning. Cook the shrimp until they are pink and tender.

They will continue to cook off the heat, so just a few minutes is all it takes. Remove the shrimp, cut into bite-sized pieces, and set aside (you'll see below that I didn't bother to cut my shrimp up).

In a large stockpot, bring the 2 quarts of water to boil. Add the shrimp shells and boil for 5 minutes. Strain out the shells (I use this large hand-held strainer that I got at the local Asian market),

and discard them (outside, not inside, unless you don't mind the fishy smell in your house).

Add the orzo to the pot and cook for about 5 minutes.

Now add the asparagus and continue to cook for another 4-5 minutes or until the orzo is al dente (take care not to overcook it!).

Drain immediately into a fine-mesh colander.

If you don't have one, you must get one before you make this dish, otherwise all your orzo will go down the drain, since it's a very tiny pasta (and please excuse the mess in my sink!).

Immediately rinse the orzo and asparagus under cold running water to stop the cooking process. This keeps the asparagus a nice bright, green color and stops the pasta from continuing to cook and become mushy (mushy pasta salad is not good!).

In a large serving bowl, toss together the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil, shrimp, and green onions.

In a separate bowl, whisk the balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, honey mustard, and basil. Season to taste with the salt and pepper.

Add this dressing to the pasta, and toss again.

Turn the salad into a serving bowl and refrigerate for 2 hours to meld the flavors.

I liked this recipe because I could make it in advance, and it was really simple. I had all the ingredients on hand except the basil (my basil is about 1 centimeter high in the garden, so it's definitely not ready to pick yet). So I had to use dried basil (boo hoo).

This salad tasted even better the next hope for leftovers! The kids were okay with it the first night, and protested the second night (so they had pizza). David's not crazy about pasta, but he had seconds and told me I could make this "anytime." SCORE one for me! I admit...I am pretty happy to find a pasta recipe that my hubby likes!

I hope you enjoy another meatless recipe from me to you!

God bless your table tonight!

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