One of the best things about summer is that it’s really easy to whip up a seasonal meal that’s equally simple and delicious. Summer flavors just lend themselves to that – light with fresh herbs and lemon. Easy.
I found this original recipe through Williams-Sonoma on a night when we were in a bit of a time crunch to put something good on the table, and then promptly leave the house. We already had most of the ingredients, and I added in a bit of fresh lemon because just about everything is better with lemon this time of year. With a glass of crisp Sauvignon Blanc, it was exactly what I was looking for – light and flavorful. Of course it didn’t hurt that I had Deano singing Mambo Italiano in the background while I danced barefoot through the kitchen, chopping basil and sautéing shrimp.
1 lb. medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp. sweet Spanish paprika
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp. sea salt, plus more, to taste
3 cups orzo
1/2 cup packed fresh basil leaves, snipped into small pieces, plus 4 to 6 whole leaves
1/4 lb. feta cheese, crumbled
juice of 1 lemon
In a bowl, stir together the shrimp, the 1/4 cup olive oil, the paprika, red pepper flakes and the 1/2 tsp. salt. Set aside.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the orzo, stir well and cook until al dente (tender but firm to the bite), according to package instructions.
Meanwhile, in a large fry pan over medium-high heat, warm the 2 Tbs. olive oil. Drain the shrimp, discarding the marinade, and add the shrimp to the pan. Cook, turning once or twice, until the shrimp are opaque throughout, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer the shrimp and any pan juices to a plate and cover to keep warm.
Drain the orzo and transfer to a warmed serving bowl. Add the shrimp and their juices and stir several times. Add the snipped basil, lemon juice, and cheese and gently stir again once or twice. Garnish with the whole basil leaves and serve immediately. Serves 6 to 8.