Everything in the summer should be light and uncomplicated; languid days lounging by the water, casual tables set for al fresco dining, and balmy evenings spent enraptured by a game of backgammon. While this slowed down season has brought with it postponed plans and uncertainty, I find that cooking familiar flavors captures the spirit of summers past we’re all longing for lately.
Orzo is my favorite pasta variety for the hotter months as it serves beautifully at room temperature and plays well with just about anything you throw into the dish. One evening on a terrace in late August, nestled amongst the Lowcountry marshes, I ordered a steaming potpourri of seafood over a bed of noodles and my face quite literally melted into the plate. Needless to say, hot pasta recipes are banished from my repertoire until hints of fall arrive!
For this orzo dish, I made grilled shrimp the star while mild flavors such as baby kale, Italian parsley, and olive oil take supporting roles. Seared Halloumi cheese, lemon, and scallions reveal bolder bites—unexpected twists abound! This recipe requires a few steps, however the cheese and pasta may be prepared ahead of time making the pièce de résistance much easier to toss together. If you can delegate the grilling, that’s even better!
I’d be remiss not to mention my new olive wood utensil set from WREN Home—practical, pretty, and personalized to boot. Their ethically sourced offerings (with appealing price points!) make thoughtful housewarming, hostess, and wedding presents. I’m always on the hunt for clever gifts and hope that this recent find will lead you to a good idea or two. Bon appétit!
Orzo with Grilled Shrimp
Serves 5. The hearty consistency of the kale ensures that this pasta will keep in the refrigerator for up to three days without signs of wilting.
- 1.5 lbs shrimp (I use jumbo, but any size will do)
- 1 lb orzo pasta
- 3/4 cup olive oil
- 1/2 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
- 8-12 oz sliced Halloumi cheese (Available at Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s)
- 1 1/2 cups julienned baby kale
- 1/2 cup of fresh Italian parsley plus more for garnishing
- Handful of chopped scallions
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- Prepare orzo pasta according to package directions making sure to achieve an al dente consistency. Drain and place into a large bowl.
- While orzo is still hot, stir in 1/2 cup of olive oil, 1/4 cup of lemon juice, salt and pepper. Set aside.
- Using a cast iron or nonstick pan over medium-high heat, grill slices of Halloumi cheese about 2-3 minutes on each side until a deep, golden brown sets in. This cheese will emit a good amount of moisture so no need to oil up your pan. Cut into cube sized bites and set aside.
- Preheat grill to 350-450 F. Place jumbo shrimp on metal or wooden skewers, brush with olive oil and lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. Grill shrimp over direct, medium heat for 5 minutes, flipping halfway. Shrimp should turn pink on the outside and be white and opaque on the inside. Be mindful not to overcook!
- While shrimp cools, toss kale, parsley, and green onion into the orzo.
- Layer on Halloumi cheese and shrimp. Add a final sprinkling of parsley, salt and pepper and drizzle of olive oil.
PS Have some leftover shrimp? Try my favorite shrimp salad recipe.