Saturday, May 6, 2006

Basil Shrimp with Feta and Orzo

A few weeks ago when I posted a fantastic recipe for shrimp, a few people chimed in about this particular recipe from Cooking Light Magazine. I hunted it down and thought it looked very similar, and pretty darn easy to boot. So I thought I would give it a whirl while the Everyday Food version was still fresh in my mind. Basil Shrimp with Feta and Orzo is actually fairly unique in how it prepares the shrimp. You bake it in a foil oven bag. That is not a preparation I've seen before, so I was looking forward to it. And of course, since it was so nice outside, I decided I would do so on the grill.

The orzo really contains the bulk of the work in this recipe. First you cook the orzo, and then add scallions, tomatoes, salt, pepper, lemon zest, lemon juice, and feta cheese. You pour this into your oven bag and top it with your peeled shrimp tossed with fresh basil. Close up the bag, and bake for 25 minutes or so. The only problem with this recipe is that I was really worried about overcooking the shrimp. And because it's in a bag, yoy can't really test it. Add to that the fact that I put this on the grill (indirectly) so I was slightly worried about everything burning to the bag, and I ended up with a bit of a deviation. I opened up the bag to check on the shrimp, and they, of course, still needed more time to cook. So I pulled them out and threw them directly on the heat to finish them up, which only took another minute. I took everything inside to serve alongside some lemony grilled asparagus.

Well, the orzo pilaf was really good. It was light and fresh tasting, and we really both enjoyed it. The shrimp was good also, but because I'd removed it from the bag, didn't get all those light and lemony flavors, and I felt they were missing. We did enjoy our dinner, and Andy requested this one over the previous one next time because he really liked the lightness of it. I had a little left over, so I thought I would see how it reheated for lunch the next day. Fast forward to lunch. I wanted to give the shrimp and orzo another try, but I was also in the mood for spinach, so I made a few changes. I sauteed some garlic in olive oil, and then wilted a couple handfuls of spinach on that. I used that as a bed for the remaining shrimp and orzo, and bingo! What I really felt was missing from the shrimp and orzo was garlic. The garlic spinach completely complimented the orzo, and when I make the shrimp again, I intend to wilt up a big ol' bag of spinach with some garlic to serve it on.

In the defense of the original recipe though, I didn't make it correctly the first time. I'm sure it was fantastic as written, but needed an extra shot because of my mistake. I can safely say that it would be well worth it to put this dish on your menu sometime soon. It's very good, and certainly company worthy. You can find a copy of the recipe right here in the Recipe Trove. And check back tomorrow to find out how my Coconut Cake and accompanying Caribbean Chicken make out.

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