Putting this recipe together was easier than I thought it would be. When I first browsed through the instructions, I saw some ingredients that I don’t work with a lot. Shrimp and kalamata olives being two of them. And for whatever reason, whenever I see broth included in a recipe ingredient list, I think things are going to be challenging. Fortunately, in this case, they weren’t.
Today’s dish is a good one. It can be used as a main entree and has two flavorful characteristics that sets it apart from other dishes. The first interesting characteristic is the kalamata olives. As I mentioned above, I don’t eat these much, but I’ll tell you, they truly defined what was on my plate last night. Their flavor transcended through everything else and I’d have to say that this one ingredient was the star. Without it, the meal still would have been good, but with it, it was stellar.
The second ingredient I remember enjoying was the lemon juice. Again, without it, things would have been just fine, but with the addition of a bit of acid, I was pleasantly surprised. I’m actually updating the ingredient list below to double up on the lemon juice. I liked it that much.
I’d like to thank Cook’s Country for this recipe. It’s another good one that I’ll be making again in the future.
2 Tablespoons Lemon Juice
Regular Table Salt
Ground Black Pepper
1 1/2 Pounds Extra Large Shrimp, Peeled
Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
1 Large Onion, Chopped
3 Garlic Cloves, Minced or Crushed
2 Cups Orzo
4 Cups Vegetable Broth (or Substitute)
1 Cup Pitted Kalamata Olives, Sliced or Chopped
1 Cup Feta Cheese, Crumbled
I’d like to take a moment to talk about broth. For the past few months, I’ve been having a nagging feeling that I’ve been buying a lot of water from the grocery store. This water (that they call broth) costs about $2.79 per quart. Since I don’t like buying water in this fashion, I’ve been thinking about substituting the broth with a more concentrated version of the same thing. I’ve discovered that this substitute is called bouillon.
During our last visit to the grocery store, I looked at the bouillon cubes that were sitting adjacent to the broth on the store shelve. I did a little math and figured that if I simply purchase the bouillon cubes, I’d be saving a lot of money and would lose the feeling that I was being ripped off. A funny thing happened though – as I was reviewing the bouillon cubes, I noticed a substitute for that. This was a product called “Better Than Bouillon.” Apparently, it comes in a jar and for every 4 cups of broth a recipe calls for, you can scoop out 1 1/2 tablespoons of this product and dissolve in hot water. I purchased it and used it for this recipe. It tastes pretty awesome.
I wanted to point this option out for all those who are purchasing broth on a regular basis. If you boil down this ingredient, you really don’t have much left. If you take those dried flakes and dissolve them into water, there’s your broth again. I’m really not into buying expensive water from the supermarket, so from now on, I’m going to turn to alternatives.
Prepare Shrimp Mixture
If shrimp are frozen, defrost in cool water until soft. Then, in a large bowl, combine and mix the well drained shrimp with 1/2 teaspoon regular table salt and 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper until the shrimp are well coated. Set aside for later use.
Prepare Pasta Mix
In a large skillet (at least 12 inches), warm 1 tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil over medium-high heat. When oil begins to smoke, add the 1 large chopped onion and cook down until the onion pieces are soft. Depending on the size of your onion, this can take between 5-10 minutes. My onion was huge, so it took every bit of the 10 minutes to cook.
After that, add in the 3 cloves of crushed or minced garlic and continue cooking for about 1 more minute. You should definitely smell the garlic warming up at this point.
When that’s done, add in 2 cups of the dry orzo and stir into the other ingredients. Continue cooking for about 5 minutes, stirring constantly. This step is intended to lightly toast the pieces of pasta to add flavor depth.
When you see that the orzo has somewhat browned a bit, add in the 4 cups of vegetable broth or substitute (see above) and bring everything to a boil. Then, reduce heat to medium and cook for about 7 minutes or until the orzo has absorbed most of the liquid. The pasta should be al dente at this point.
Finally, stir in the 1 cup of kalamata olives, 1/2 cup of crumbled feta cheese and the 2 tablespoons of lemon juice.
If you purchased frozen uncooked shrimp, go ahead and add them (thawed) to the top of the pasta mixture in the skillet. Then, lower the heat on your stove top to medium-low, cover and cook for about 5 minutes until the shrimp are pink. If you purchased frozen cooked shrimp, simply add them (thawed) to the pasta mixture and stir well.
The Final Dish
When everything is cooked and combined well, remove the skillet from heat and serve. I think you’ll enjoy this one.
After the ingredients are plated, you can sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup of crumbled feta cheese on them.
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Lita Watson says
Can i use 1/2 cup of crumbled goat cheese instead of crumbled feta for this recipe? I like a less salty taste and i think that it can be used to substitute feta.
Jay Gaulard says
Of course you can! With me, it’s a toss up between goat cheese and feta, but really, both would be perfect for this recipe. The only thing you’d need to concern yourself with is the goat cheese melting into the ingredients. But since this dish isn’t overly hot, that’s really not much of an issue.
I added a cup of fresh spinach also, yum!!!
Jay Gaulard says
Excellent idea Linda!