Creamy Orzo with Shrimp and Spring Peas

 

This is what happens when you spot fresh spring peas at Trader Joe’s and you must have them because after 6 months of Midwest winter, anything spring-related is essentially seductive and irresistible.  

Peas, asparagus, artichokes... they're all irresistible at the moment and happy harbingers of life without coats, boots, scarves, gloves and there's flip flop weather ahead!!  And then. of course, the question arises as to how best to celebrate these little beauties. 

One might easily just do a quick sauté with nothing more than a little butter and a sprinkling of salt and it would be perfectly lovely.  Or one might go big and create THIS!!

As it turns out, this is a seriously delicious way to celebrate spring peas or spring or just dinner or nothing at all.  It is celebration itself… a lovely concoction of orzo, goat cheese, parmesan cheese, a little lemon, some spring veggies and perfectly cooked shrimp.   

It's pretty much a one-pan meal, except that you'll be boiling your orzo separately.  So two pans. Hopefully, you're down with that, because I honestly don't think you'll find this burdensome.  I'd be willing to use, say, 5 or 6 pans; it was that good.  But only 2 pans and a few minutes will produce this incredibly scrumptious spring meal.  Veggies are optional and swappable, which also makes this an any-time of year thing.  

Here's the recipe...

Creamy Orzo with Shrimp and Spring Peas

Serves 4 

This is an amazing one-pan meal that is amenable to any veggies you would like to add.  I used asparagus and spring peas, but zucchini would be great too.   You can easily make this in one skillet (besides cooking the orzo), but you can also transfer it to an oven proof serving dish before adding the shrimp for a nice presentation. 

1 1/2 cups orzo
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 shallot, minced (about 1/4 cup)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 oz fresh goat cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup fresh or frozen peas
1/4 lb asparagus
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
3/4 lb extra large shrimp, peeled and deveined
Another 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper
fresh basil and lemon wedges for serving (optional) 

Instructions:

Preheat oven to broil 

Place the shrimp in a bowl or ziploc bag with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Squidge around to be sure the shrimp are all coated.  Set aside.


Bring about 5-6 cups of water to a boil, add a good amount of salt and then the orzo.  Cook for about 7-8 minutes, stirring once or twice, then drain. 

While the orzo cooks, snap the woody ends off of the asparagus and discard (or save for stock).  Cut the tops off the spears and then cut the stalks into small pieces. 

Heat the olive oil in a medium-large (10-12 inch) oven-proof skillet.  Add the shallots and saute until fragrant, about 3-4 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook for another minute.  Pour about 1/4 cup of water or broth into the pan and add the asparagus pieces and the peas.  Shake the pan to evenly distribute them and then cover and simmer for about 3 minutes to par cook the veggies.   The water should be almost all evaporated.  Remove the pan from the heat.   

Add the orzo to the pan along with the goat cheese, parmesan cheese, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and the chicken broth.  Stir to combine really well and let sit, covered, for about 5 minutes.  Taste for salt, pepper or if you would like to add more lemon juice. 

Remove the shrimp from the bowl or bag and place them on top of the orzo.  Place the pan under the broiler for about 4-5 minutes or until the shrimp are just opaque and turning pink.  They will continue to cook a little after you remove them from the oven.   

Before serving, drizzle the shrimp with a little more olive oil and another little sprinkling of black pepper. Sprinkle the top with fresh basil and serve with lemon wedges, if you'd like. 

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