30-Minute Mediterranean Orzo Salad With Shrimp

Shrimp and Orzo Salad
Stephanie Lang, MS, RDN, CDN
Total Time 30 min
Prep 15 min, Cook 15 min
Yield 4, 1.25 cup portions (362 cals)

Shrimp is a low calorie, low fat source of protein that pairs well with pasta, polenta, or grits. This recipe takes a classic Mediterranean style orzo salad often seen in the prepared section of grocery stores and adds sauteed shrimp for extra staying power.

Shrimp have a relatively high level of cholesterol but have essentially no saturated fat (slightly over 1 gram per serving, compared to beef that can have anywhere from 5 to 20 grams per serving). Sun-dried tomatoes and spinach are both rich in antioxidants from vitamins C and A, and olives and feta cheese add healthy fat and saltiness. Finish off the dish with a bright zing of fresh squeezed lemon juice and say sayonara to pre-prepared orzo salads, because you can make it even better at home!

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces orzo
  • 1 cup baby spinach, chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil
  • 2 tablespoons olives (green or kalamata), chopped
  • 1/4 cup cubed or crumbled feta cheese
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 8 ounces peeled and de-veined shrimp
  • 1 tablespoons lemon juice
  • black pepper to taste

Preparation

  1. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add the orzo and cook according to the package directions. Drain and rinse with cold water.
  2. Add the spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, olives, and feta to the cooked orzo. Set aside.
  3. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat and add the shrimp. Cook for about 3 minutes or until pink and cooked through.
  4. Add the cooked shrimp to the orzo salad and drizzle with fresh lemon juice. Add black pepper to taste.

    Ingredient Substitutions and Variations

    To make this dish vegetarian, swap the shrimp for 1.5 cups cooked chickpeas and half a cup of slivered almonds. The chickpeas add protein and the almonds add healthy fat.

    For an extra antioxidant boost, add about a half cup of chopped artichoke hearts (from frozen or canned) to the orzo. Artichoke hearts are comparable to berries in terms of antioxidant content.

    To get in a serving of whole grains, use whole wheat orzo.

    Cooking and Serving Tips

    Try to purchase seafood that is caught or farmed using environmentally friendly practices. You can support ocean-friendly seafood by looking for the Marine Stewardship Council blue eco-label in stores and restaurants, and/or when you buy your seafood, ask where it comes from and whether it was farmed or wild caught. Depending on the type of seafood, some are more eco-friendly when purchased farmed and others may be more eco-friendly when purchased wild.

    If you purchase frozen shrimp, set aside the amount you need for the recipe and thaw in a covered bowl in the refrigerator the day before use, or place shrimp in a colander and run cold water over the shrimp for 5 to 6 minutes until thawed.

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