I guess you could kind of call this my first “improv” dinner, as in I kind of made it up as I went along. I was “inspired” by this shrimp orzo dish in the Ellie Krieger cookbook, but it seemed kind of…boring. Plus Shelley and I don’t really like grape tomatoes. It’s sad, at least to me. They look so delicious, but I just cannot get into raw tomatoes.

Sigh, I guess I can’t like EVERY food in existence……

Anyways, we all agreed (unless they were lying..) that this dish was really flavorful – way better than the other shrimp orzo dish I made last semester. So boring. I didn’t realize one box of orzo made SO. MUCH. ORZO. So basically, it was supposed to be a Greek/Mediterranean (I love Mediterranean dishes by the way…if I could pick any place to go and study cooking, I’d pick Greece or somewhere with tons of delicious Mediterranean food. Just FYI.), but it was basically a huge bowl of orzo with random pieces of shrimp and bell pepper. It had some Feta cheese (oh, how I love you), spinach, and onion, but those were even more scarce. It was also supposed to have this refreshing olive oil/lemon dressing, but I guess our olive oil isn’t fancy enough, so it was just kind of…oily.

It was not a nice dish at all.

Anyways, this one was MUCH better, mostly because I know how sneaky orzo can be…a little goes a loooooong way. Here’s the recipe:

Orzo, Shrimp and Stuff
Serves 5-6

– 1 onion, chopped/sliced into half rings
– 1 bag frozen shrimp 30-35/lb (I had the precooked kind)
– 2 tbsp olive oil
– 1 tbsp Italian Dressing mix (Good Seasons)
– 1 can Diced tomatoes, plus juice (Italian variety)
– 1 tsp chopped garlic
– 1 tsp red pepper flakes
– 1.5 cups orzo (not cooked)
– 1-2 cups spinach leaves
– 1/4 cup dry white wine
– Salt/Pepper
– 1/2 a bell pepper would have been good too..

First, get the orzo cooking…boil a big pot of water and add the orzo. It takes about 8ish minutes to cook. Once it finishes, drain it and let it sit until everything else is cooked.

Meanwhile, chop up an onion while the olive oil is heating in a pan. Put the onion (diced, chopped, sliced…however you like it. I sliced mine) in the pan once the oil starts to heat and let it soften for 10 – 15 minutes. If you want to add bell pepper, add that in with the onions. While it’s cooking, add some salt and pepper, half of the Italain dressing mix, and the red pepper flakes. Once it’s finished cooking, add the garlic.

Then I pushed that mixture over to the side of the pan (it was a big pan) and added the shrimp and let them cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Next, add the dry white wine and the diced tomatoes and their juices and let that incorporate for a couple of minutes, along with the spinach. I only added the spinach because I love the way it looks when it wilts – it gave the dish a beautiful pop of green.

Finally, mix in the orzo, the rest of the Italian dressing mix, and a bit more salt and pepper.

I know it’s not anything revolutionary and I’m sure it’s been done before, but I felt pretty pleased with myself. I made a lot of changes to a recipe that seemed a little bland and it turned out great! The onion and Italian dressing mix really came through. It’s probably cheating to use the Italian dressing mix, but my dad puts it in EVERYTHING, so I do too.

Everyone should cook with their dad at some point in their life. It’s our way of bonding, and I learn a lot when we cook together. SO SENTIMENTAL!

Kbye.

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