I’m always on the lookout for new ways to serve shrimp and this lovely baked pasta dish delivers bright, fresh flavors. Positively bulging with big, fat juicy shrimp and topped with tangy feta cheese, this is a lively, fragrant, satisfying dish that’s lighter than many baked pasta dishes.
Similar to risotto in preparation – but then you stick it in the oven for 20 minutes, making it a perfect supper dish for entertaining.
This recipe is best made just before you want to serve it, so get everything prepped and ready to assemble beforehand.
*Saffron is a rather luxurious spice but well worth investing in – a kitchen treasure that enhances desserts, cookies and rice dishes among other things.
BAKED ORZO PASTA with SHRIMP, SAFFRON, LEMON & TOMATOES
1.5lbs (680g) of fresh shrimp (preferably wild caught), peeled and de-veined
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons of x-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded and finely chopped
4-6 cloves of garlic, crushed
1lb (450g) of orzo pasta
1 large pinch of *saffron
1 tablespoon of lemon zest
4 cups (1ltr) of chicken broth
1 cup (240ml) of water
28 oz (800g) can of chopped tomatoes
1 tablespoon of fresh oregano, chopped
12 oz (340g) of feta cheese, crumbled
2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice
A handful of Italian flat leaf parsley, chopped
Preheat the oven to 400F/200C. Oil a 9 x 13 inch (22 x 33cm) baking dish.
Toss the prepared shrimp in sea salt and black pepper and set it aside.
In a large saute pan, heat the oil and gently saute the onion and red pepper.. Cook over a medium heat until softened, stirring frequently. Add the minced garlic and cook for another minute then add the orzo pasta, saffron and lemon zest.
Stir well for a minute until the orzo is coated with oil, then pour in the broth and water. Bring it to a good simmer, add a generous pinch of sea salt and cook, stirring frequently until just below the orzo recommended cooking time (you want it to be still quite ‘al dente’ before you put it in the oven – 8 minutes approx). Most of the liquid will have been absorbed at this point.
Check the seasoning then add the tomatoes, shrimp and oregano. Transfer it to the baking dish and top with the crumbled feta cheese. Bake for approximately 20 minutes or until the shrimp is cooked through and the feta is starting to brown in places.
Serve right away, scattered with chopped parsley and a drizzle of lemon juice.