A whole lot of summer flavors came together for this dish. The light shrimp, the tangy lemon, and the peppery arugula straight from the Farmer’s market around the corner combined to create something so delicious and so very satisfying. I wanted to eat this on a beach. It’s beach pasta.
And it’s so easy, which I think is a requirement for summer meals.
I certainly didn’t invent orzo pasta salad-ish things. That said, this recipe was created from a long, hard look in my refrigerator and thinking how I could combine all the things that I needed to eat before I left town this weekend. (I’m going to Jersey! Or Joisey, if you’re from anywhere but Jersey and think that’s how they talk like I did.) I had arugula that was absolutely too beautiful to let spoil, a lemon that was about to turn, and some frozen shrimp that I’ve had a hard time finishing off. Pair all those with some vegetable orzo and I had myself a meal!
And did I mention this was so, so easy?
I served this right away in a bowl with a drizzle of nice olive oil.
This was absolutely delicious warm, which is how I had it because, well, I needed dinner. The flavors were fresh and light, and by the way I am completely obsessed with arugula. Obsessed. Truly.
But let me tell you about something very important about this dish. If at all possible, make this a day ahead, refrigerate over night, then eat it the next day cold. Oh. My. Goodness.
The flavors have time to meld over night and something fantastic happens when you eat this and everything is the exact same temperature. The different textures and flavors were surprising and so good.
Whether you eat it warm or cold the next day, I really don’t think you will be disappointed. It’s the perfect summer meal.
Here’s the recipe:
Orzo with Lemon, Shrimp and Arugula (serves 3-4)
1/2 pound small shrimp, thawed if frozen with the tails removed
1 bunch of arugula, stems removed and thoroughly washed
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
zest (and juice for later) of 1 lemon (about 1 heaping tablespoon)
3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
8 ounces of orzo (if you can find some that is colored, do it. It’s so pretty)
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
Bring a pot of water to a boil and salt well.
Remove the stems from the arugula and wash the leaves very well by putting them in a large bowl of cold water and swishing them around until all the grit falls to the bottom of the bowl. Dry and set aside in a medium bowl.
Thaw shrimp and season with salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, minced garlic, and lemon zest. Saute in two tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat until shrimp are heated through and curl up a little. This takes about two minutes if you are using frozen cooked, about 5-7 minutes if you are using fresh shrimp or frozen uncooked. When shrimp is done, add it on top of the arugula with all the pan juices.
Cook orzo according to package instructions until al dente. Splash a couple of tablespoons of the starchy pasta water in the arugula/shrimp mixture and then drain orzo and add it on top of the arugula and shrimp. The arugula will wilt into the pasta. Gently mix to combine.
Grate the Parmesan cheese and squeeze the lemon juice over everything and stir again to combine.
Serve immediately warm or the next day cold with a drizzle of good extra virgin olive oil.