Hey Y’all! It’s officially summer, and it’s been hot here in the ATL since mid April. It seems every year summer comes earlier and earlier. It wouldn’t be so bad if there was a nice shade tree to hide under. For about three weeks, I watched as Piedmont Hospital cut down and rip up couple hundred year old magnolia trees. I assume they are expanding since they have removed some of the bricks from the end of the building. The price we pay for living in the city, I guess. At least I have a nice canopy of trees to be under when I come down the drive way into the complex.
This recipe wasn’t suppose to be a post. Once I made it I could help myself. Granted it took me a week to type it out, but I digress. I’m always looking for new ways to make pasta. Pasta is a staple in our house. I generally cook it once a week, sometimes more depending on my work schedule. There is only so many times you can make tomato sauce or Alfredo sauce, or their many secondary sauces, before you get tired of them. I am very pleased to say this recipe is sauce-less, yet creamy. The secret to it is to treat it kind of like risotto. Stir it often while the orzo cooks helps to release the starch in the pasta. This starch in turn thickens the stock making it’s own creamy saucy. I guess I shouldn’t call it a sauce since the end result isn’t saucy. You can eat it hot, cold, or at room temperature.
Orzo with Roasted Heirloom Tomatoes, Shrimp, and Spinach
3 Tsp real butter
1 lb. orzo pasta
1 lb. shrimp; peeled, de-veined, tail off
1 lb. fresh spinach, cleaned and stems removed
1 lb. heirloom tomatoes, washed and dried
1 clove garlic, finely diced
1 large shallot, finely diced
4 Tsp good quality olive oil, divided
3/4 tsp. crushed pepper flakes, divided
1/4 tsp. garlic powder, divided
1/2 tsp. dried basil, divided
salt and black pepper, to taste
Parmesan cheese, for garnish
Preheat oven to 375. Wash and dry the tomatoes. Make sure the tomatoes are completely dry before moving forward with this recipe. Spread the dry tomatoes on a baking sheet just large enough to hold them in a single layer with a little wiggle room. Dress the tomatoes with one half of the olive oil, garlic powder, red pepper flakes, basil, and salt and pepper to taste. Using clean hands, roll and toss the tomatoes to spread the oil and seasoning evenly. Place in the center of oven, and roast until they burst. On a separate baking sheet, prepare the shrimp in the same way as the tomatoes, set in refrigerator until ready to use. While the tomatoes roast, prepare the orzo. Melt the butter in a large sauce pan over medium heat. When the foam begins to dissipate, add the orzo. Cook the orzo, stirring often, until lightly browned. Add the shallot and garlic, cook for 2 minutes. Add three cups of stock to the orzo, stir well. When the stock as reduced and the orzo is just shy of al dente, add remaining stock. Stir the orzo very well, and top with the spinach. Season with salt and black pepper, and cover. All the spinach to wilt, stirring into the orzo until completely wilted. Place the shrimp in the oven and roast until slightly pink, about 3 to 7 minutes depending on their size. Add the roasted tomatoes and roasted shrimp, and their juices, to the orzo; stir well to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning. Serve garnished with Parmesan cheese.