saffronorzoI don’t know what it is about shrimp. I love them, I order them in restaurants no problem. But I’m never just wowed when I cook shrimp at home. I’ve tried all different kinds of shrimp, and I always buy the best I can find from Whole Foods (or Fresh Direct before that). And it’s never actually bad; I’ve made some delicious dishes with shrimp in them. Grilled shrimp, shrimp with pasta, shrimp wrapped in bacon and broiled, sauteed shrimp. The dishes themselves are usually really good, and they’d be perfect except for the fact that they have shrimp.

Adam and I are both puzzled by this because we agree that we both do actually like shrimp. And I’ve learned how to cook it, it’s not that it’s overdone or handled wrong. I know what not-quite-right shellfish can do to one’s digestive system. It’s cooked just fine, but it’s still shrimp. I don’t know what’s wrong with us; it’s gotten to the point where I’ll add a shrimp dish when I make out the menus for the week to grocery shop, and then I’ll dread actually making the shrimp. It’s just one of those things I try to add to spice up the proteins we eat, and it’s just not that exciting for either of us.

So anyway, I tried again on Thursday night with this dish from Giada’s Everyday Pasta. The orzo is fantastically good, and the flavor of the shrimp was excellent. But neither of us finished our bowls. For one thing, shrimp is surprisingly rich. And for another, it was shrimp. So this is a weird post because I do actually recommend this dish if you’re not unbalanced about such things like I appear to be. It’s light and citrusy, and it’s a fast weeknight dinner.

Saffron Orzo with Shrimp

4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 tsp saffron threads
1 pound orzo pasta
7 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (Italian parsley)
juice of 1 lemon
3 tsp salt
2 tsp freshly ground black peppercooking orzo
1 lb large shrimp, peeled and deveined

In a large pot, bring the chicken stock to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and add the saffron. Stir and simmer for about 5 minutes, until the saffron “blooms.” Return the heat to medium and bring the stock back to a boil. Add the orzo and could until tender but still firm to th bite, 8-10 minutes.

seasoning the orzo

Drain the orzo and transfer to a large bowl. Add 4 tablespoons of olive oil, the parsley, half the lemon juice, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper (I just eyeballed those). Combine thoroughly.

In a bowl, toss the shrimp with 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon pepper (I eyeballed again), and the remaining lemon juice. Heat the remaining olive oil un a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shrimp in a single layer and cook until the shrimp are just turning pink, about 2 minutes per side. Add the shrimp to the bowl of orzo and toss to combine serve.