Friday, May 29, 2009

Summer Salads


There are many reasons to love Spring and Summer. Beautiful weather, blooming flowers, picnics and barbeque's are all some of my favorite things in the world. Another reason why I love this time of year is because of "Summer Salads."

I love Summer Salads because they are usually easy to make and can be made way in no slaving over a hot stove when you should be outside enjoying the beautiful weather. And of all of the salads that I have made over the years, Roasted Shrimp with Orzo is by far mine and my husbands favorite. Another Barefoot Contessa recipe (what did I do before Ina?), Roasted Shrimp with Orzo definitely needs to be added to your arsenal of go-to dishes.

Roasted Shrimp with Orzo
Serves 12

Kosher salt
Good olive oil
3/4 pound orzo pasta (rice-shaped pasta)
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (3 lemons)
Freshly ground black pepper
2 pounds (16 to 18 count) shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 cup minced scallions, white and green parts
1 cup chopped fresh dill
1 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 hothouse cucumber, unpeeled, seeded, and medium-diced
1/2 cup small-diced red onion
3/4 pound good feta cheese, large diced
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Fill a large pot with water, add 1 tablespoon of salt and a splash of oil, and bring the water to a boil. Add the orzo and simmer for 9 to 11 minutes, stirring occasionally, until it's cooked al dente. Drain and pour into a large bowl. Whisk together the lemon juice, 1/2 cup olive oil, 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon of pepper. Pour over the hot pasta and stir well.
Meanwhile, place the shrimp on a sheet pan, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss to combine and spread out in a single layer. Roast for 5 to 6 minutes, until the shrimp are cooked through. Don't overcook!
Add the shrimp to the orzo and then add the scallions, dill, parsley, cucumber, onion, 2 teaspoons salt**, and 1 teaspoon pepper. Toss well. Add the feta and stir carefully. Set aside at room temperature for 1 hour to allow the flavors to blend, or refrigerate overnight. If refrigerated, taste again for seasonings and bring back to room temperature before serving.
**Note: Until you find the feta that you prefer, I would start by only putting 1 teaspoon of salt. I have tried some fetas that are unbelievably more salty than others, which can be overwhelming if you over season.

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