For some unknown reason, I feel the need to have an orzo salad with our Easter meal. Why orzo? Why at Easter?We don’t really need to answer these questions. Information that actually might be useful: Orzo is a small rice shaped pasta. It comes in different sizes, some look more flat and like short grain rice. Other varieties of orzo are more similar to a piece of long grain rice. I prefer the longer, thinner shape. It’s not rice, just pasta shaped like rice. Find it in the pasta section of your grocery.
The Easter orzo salad changes a little each year. I love shrimp, orzo and vegetables together. I tried a new recipe this year, and everyone agreed it’s a keeper. I know you’re going to love it too.
Orzo, Shrimp and Summer Vegetable Salad with Pesto Vinaigrette
- 8 ounces orzo about 1 1/3 cups
- 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil divided
- 2 medium zucchini or summer squash about 9 ounces total, cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick slices
- 1 red or yellow bell pepper quartered
- 3 tablespoons purchased pesto
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 1 pound uncooked large shrimp peeled, deveined
- 2 cups tomatoes cored, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 2 cups) or 2 cups grape tomatoes, slice in half
- 1/2 cup thinly sliced fresh basil leaves plus sprigs for garnish
- 1 8- ounce ball fresh mozzarella cheese cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 1 cup fresh spinach chopped
Cook orzo in large pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally. Drain. Rinse with cold water; drain well. Transfer to large bowl and toss with 1 tablespoon oil.
Prepare barbecue (medium-high heat). Brush zucchini and bell pepper with 2 tablespoons olive oil, then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Whisk pesto, lime juice, remaining 4 tablespoons oil, and remaining 1-2 tablespoons vinegar in small bowl for pesto vinaigrette. Place shrimp in medium bowl. Add 2 tablespoons pesto vinaigrette; toss to coat.
Grill zucchini and bell pepper until crisp tender, about 2 minutes per side for zucchini and 3 minutes per side for bell pepper. Transfer to work surface. Sprinkle shrimp with salt and pepper; grill until charred and cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Place shrimp in bowl with orzo. Chop zucchini and bell pepper; add to bowl with orzo. Add remaining vinaigrette, tomatoes, sliced basil, and mozzarella; toss to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Garnish with basil sprigs and serve cold or at room temperature.
Serves 4-6 as a side salad
This can be made ahead and kept in refrigerator for up to a day before serving.
-This can be prepared without a grill. If you have a convection oven, turn the heat to about 425 and cook just until vegetables start to turn golden. You may cook the shrimp in the oven as well, or saute in a pan on the stove. The flavors are definitely better when the vegetables and shrimp are grilled on a barbecue grill. -Don't overcook the vegetables. They should be barely softened when cooked properly.