Lemony Shrimp and Orzo

Lemony Shrimp and Orzo

I hope you like this garlicy, lemony riff of shrimp scampi, but with orzo and a lot more lemon. I was introduced to this recipe by my foodie friend Kate. She had this on repeat in her house and cooked it so much that she has it memorized. You can find a very close version of this recipe on NYTimes Cooking, and it’s by Ali Slagle.
If using frozen shrimp, you can thaw in the fridge that day, or soak in warm water in a bowl on the counter for 20 minutes. Pair this with arugula mixed in or a side of bagged Caesar salad and a crusty bread. My kids ate the pasta and shrimp with a size of frozen peas. I left the red pepper flakes and parsley out of their portions, so they would eat it without hemming and hawing.

What makes this hardly homemade?

  • anything that calls for store-bought pasta is considered hardly homemade because you are not making the pasta from scratch
  • some hacks include skipping the lemon zest (if you don’t have time) and use lemon juice from the bottle, but use extra
  • using a jar of minced garlic or garlic paste, instead of fresh
  • buying the shrimp that’s already peeled
  • pair with a bagged Caesar salad, store-bought baguette, or frozen peas for the kids, perhaps?

What makes this a good one?

  • it’s delicious
  • it’s done in less than 30 minutes
  • Just. ONE. Pan. Yes!!
  • not many ingredients
  • you can easily double it, and feed 8-10 people in the same amount of time as long as you have a large skillet
  • lemon, garlic, butter, wine…

Lemony Shrimp and Orzo

August 3, 2021
: 4
: 25 min

Easy weeknight, kind of fancy dinner that everyone can enjoy.


  • 1 pound large or jumbo shrimp, thawed, peeled and deveined
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest, plus 1 tablespoon juice (from 1 lemon)
  • red-pepper flakes, to taste or optional
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced, or 6 tablespoons of minced garlic from the jar, or 3 tablespoons of garlic paste
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup orzo
  • ⅓ cup dry white wine
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 3 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • Step 1 In a medium bowl, stir together shrimp, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 tablespoon of lemon zest, red-pepper flakes (to taste or omit if you have people who don’t like spicy at the table), 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper and half the garlic. Set aside to marinate for at least 10 minutes, but no more than 1 hour.
  • Step 2 In a small sauce pan or kettle, start boiling 3 cups of water (you will only need 2 cups, but some will evaporate). Meanwhile, in a medium skillet, add butter, remaining olive oil and remaining garlic to the skillet set over medium heat. When butter is melted, add the orzo and sprinkle some more salt. Don’t leave the pan because you need to stir the orzo frequently, and we want to toast the orzo, but we don’t want it to burn. After about 2 minutes, the orzo should be toasted. Turn the heat down to medium-low to prevent the garlic from burning. Slowly add the wine, and adjust the heat so it comes to a bubble, then stir until reduced, about 1 minute. Next, stir in 2 cups of boiling water, REDUCE HEAT TO LOW, cover, and cook until orzo is al dente, about 12 minutes. Meanwhile, chop the parsley, if not yet done.
  • Step 3 Add the shrimp in a snug, even layer on top of the orzo, sprinkle with a pinch more of salt and pepper, cover, and cook until all the shrimp is pink and cooked through, 2 to 4 minutes. This part is very important: REMOVE FROM HEAT at the 3 minute mark because the shrimp will keep cooking off heat and covered and you avoid the orzo sticking to the bottom of the pan problem. No one wants that! Let sit, covered, 2 minutes.
  • Step 4 Sprinkle with parsley and lemon juice, season with salt and pepper, and serve immediately.