Orzo and Lemon Shrimp

I invented this recipe a few weeks ago while visiting a friend in Chicago. His kitchen is extremely small with little counter space. I was exhausted from a long day of shopping and feeling extremely uncreative, and we had a time restraint due to a pending concert.

I served this paella/risotto-like dish with French bread and sautéed beet greens and vinegar.

Serves 4-6


50-75 small shrimp, shelled

1 bundle fresh Italian parsley, chopped finely

2 lemons, juiced and grated

2 tsp. dried thyme

4 large cloves of garlic, pressed or minced

1 small dried chili pepper crushed,

or 1 generous tsp. of dried pepper flakes

olive oil

4 Tblsp. butter

1 lb. Orzo noodles

In a small sauce pan, melt 3 tablespoons butter until just sizzling but not brown. Add about 1 tablespoon olive oil, the garlic, leaving about a tablespoon out, and sauté with the ¾ of the parsley, half the chili pepper, and a dash of salt. Sauté very gently on low heat until the garlic is slightly golden, and then add the juice of one lemon.

In a large stock pot, bring 6 cups water to a boil and add the lemon rind and thyme and some salt. After it has simmered for about 10 minutes, add the Orzo and stir frequently to keep the little noodles from sticking.

While the Orzo is boiling (it takes about 15 minutes), heat a large, shallow frying pan (a wok works well) with 1 tablespoon butter and 2 tablespoons oil. When it’s hot, toss the shrimp in and turn the heat on high to quickly fry, mixing in the rest of the parsley, garlic and chili pepper and some salt. When the shrimp is almost done (3 minutes), add the rest of lemon juice and turn the heat off.

When the Orzo is done, drain it and return to the large pot. Pour the butter-garlic-parsley mixture in, and then the shrimp with all of its sauce. Stir well, and serve very hot. You can turn the heat back on low while you’re stirring the mixture together, but don’t let anything actually cook longer than it must. The heat in the pot should finish the shrimp’s cooking process.

Serve in bowls with fresh parsley sprinkled over the top. This tastes great with warm French bread and greens or a fresh salad.

And, of course, white wine is the only thing to drink with this meal, but seltzer water with a dash of lime works for non-drinkers.

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