Orzo with Shrimp, Cucumbers and Feta

Orzo with Roasted Shrimp, Cucumbers and Feta

Several days ago I was invited to a potluck picnic and asked to bring a salad. One would expect a food writer to have a continuous deck of recipes shuffling through her brain, that perfect recipe ready to pluck at a moment’s notice.

Not necessarily so. I felt uninspired; like a woman with a closet overflowing with clothes complaining she has nothing to wear. A woman who has cooked it all, and eaten it all. Jaded. Not good.

At times such as this, a trip to the farmers market unleashes the floodgates, especially if my friend, Alesia, joins me. Her favorite food tastes like a summer day, bursting with sunny flavor — the crunch of greens, the tang of citrus. If Alesia likes a recipe, I’m sure I will too.

We passed a table with baby cucumbers.

Ina (Garten) has a yummy orzo pasta salad recipe with shrimp and cucumbers,” Alesia commented. “It’s got a lot of fresh dill and lemon.”Hmm. A twinge of inspiration; I purchased a carton of baby cukes. We wandered to the People’s Coop; I may as well get a block of feta and bag of orzo, just in case. If I don’t make the salad, I’ll use these items for something else. (If you’re not familiar with orzo, a rice-shaped pasta, give it a try. It’s perfect for entertaining guests. Unlike messy ropes of dangling spaghetti or other long noodle, orzo is easily scooped out of the bowl with a serving spoon.)

We continued our conversation in rhapsodic praise of Ina’s recipes in general. So often it seems to us that food stars have assistants put recipes out there just for the sake of numbers. Recipes results sometimes seem amiss. Pardon the pun, but the proof is in the pudding.

Ina is different; if Ina puts it out there, you know she’s tested and tasted it many times. You know if it needs more lemon, she adds more lemon. Her recipes are usually simple to make and exceptionally good.

Alesia said that the recipe calls for roasting raw, shell-on shrimp, which, according to Ina, intensifies their mild sweet flavor. That makes sense to me. Last year I grilled shrimp with the shell on for the Fourth of July, then served it with a Firecracker Sauce. The shell lent flavor to the shrimp and It was undoubtedly the best peel and eat shrimp imaginable.

Driving home, I stopped by Morgan and York. They sell a wonderful crustacean that is farmed and harvested in Okemos, Mich. and is also available atArbor Farms.

At home, I went online to check out the recipe. Three-hundred and forty-nine, five-star Food Network reviews can’t be wrong; inspiration at last!

The following recipe is adapted from Ina Garten’s recipe for Roasted Shrimp and Orzo.

Changes I made: I halved her recipe, substituted chives for scallions, eliminated the red onion, used several baby cucumbers instead of 1 hothouse, and used less herbs (I ran out!) than her recipe called for.

Recipe: Orzo with Roasted Shrimp, Cucumbers and Feta


  • 1 cup orzo pasta (rice-shaped pasta)
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 juicy lemons)
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling over shrimp
  • 1 pound large, raw shrimp
  • 1/4 cup snipped chives
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh dill
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 3 (5-inch) small cucumbers, striped with a vegetable peeler and cut into 1/4-inch coins
  • 5 ounces feta cheese*, cut into large dice


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add orzo and cook according to package directions, stirring occasionally, or until just tender, 9-15 minutes. Drain and pour into a large bowl. Whisk together the lemon juice and 1/4 cup olive oil. Pour over hot pasta. Stir and season to taste with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper.
  3. Meanwhile, place the shell-on shrimp on a sheet pan, drizzle with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Toss to combine and spread out in a single layer. Roast on middle rack of oven for 5 to 6 minutes, or until shrimp are cooked through, taking care not to overcook.
  4. When shrimp are cool enough to handle, peel and devein. Add the shrimp to the orzo and then add the chives, dill, parsley and cucumber. Toss well. Add the feta and stir carefully. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside at room temperature for 1 hour to allow the flavors to blend, or refrigerate overnight. If refrigerated, taste again for seasonings and bring back to room temperature before serving.

*I prefer French feta, such as Valbreso , in this recipe.

Time: 30 minutes (half of which I used to peel and devein the roasted shrimp)

Number of servings (yield): Approx. 8 cups

Copyright © Peggy Lampman’s dinnerFeed.


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