Friday, September 2, 2011

Orzo for a late summer weekend lunch

I am in love with orzo in all its forms. This little gem looks like rice and behaves like pasta, because it is. It’s small enough to let pasta sauce or cheese cling to every little morsel. And for the same reason, it makes a great pasta salad. What’s more, everyone in my family seems to love it no matter what I do to it.

As I am expecting weekend guests in mid-September, I thought I’d test something that would work in for a casual lunch in very hot or very cool weather. We may have both the same weekend! Orzo should do the trick whatever the weather.

One of the guests is a vegetarian who has a hankering for shrimp and one is a carnivore who also likes seafood. I am hoping for warm weather and I think this Orzo Salad will do for everyone. So far it passed the husband test with flying colors when I served it in the screen porch on a perfect August day. Whenever I make this, I will now recall that lovely afternoon. Food and memories, that's what it's all about.


½ lb orzo

¼ cup olive oil

1 pound cooked shrimp (with a good squeeze of lemon)

1 clove garlic, minced

3 tbsp lemon juice

1 tbsp grainy Dijon mustard

½ red pepper, finely chopped

½ yellow or orange pepper, finely chopped

2 green onions, finely sliced

½ parsley, finely chopped

¾ cup light mayonnaise or ½ cup mayo and ¼ cup sour cream or plain yogurt

¼ cup chopped fresh dill (optional)

Salt & pepper

Lemon wedges for garnish


Cook orzo in boiling salted water for about 8 minutes. Drain well and drizzle with olive oil and pepper. Set aside.

Toss shrimp with 1 tbsp lemon juice. Set aside.

Make the dressing by combining garlic, mustard, 2 tbsp lemon juice, half the parsley, remaining olive oil and salt and pepper. Whip until creamy.

Coat the shrimp in two tbsp of the dressing. You can also toss in scallops or other seafood. Toss orzo with peppers, green onions, remaining parsley and dressing. Fold in the shrimp and mayo (and sour cream or yogurt). Garnish with dill (optional) and lemon wedges.

Refrigerate for at least an hour for the best flavor. Like all my recipes you can add, subtract, switch it up and substitute. I will never admit that I forgot the parsley.

Serve it with a crisp green salad and vinaigrette. I'm finding wonderful lettuce at farmers' market now. Some of it is like a work of art. Not sure if we should frame it or eat it!

Late summer weekend afternoons are perfect for reading, especially the wonderful cozies that you'll find by our talented cooks here on Mystery Lovers Kitchen. Make more time for cooking and reading by following some practical time management tips. You'll find one in every chapter of my latest book: The Busy Woman's Guide to Murder, the fifth Charlotte Adams mystery. Have fun. Read mysteries. Now that's managing time well. Drop in to for more on me and Charlotte Adams. Sign up for the mailing list and your name goes in the draw!


  1. That picture is delicious! I love orzo and don't eat it enough. This looks healthy and easy...thanks, MJ!

  2. This is my kind of recipe, Mary Jane. I have a box of orzo in the pantry just waiting to be invited to a shrimp dinner. I'm sure your guests will love it. And I hope you have a warm weekend with cool nights when your friends visit!

    ~ Krista

  3. Thanks, Elizabeth and Krista! Wouldn't you two make perfect guests for a relaxing lunch. Too bad you're so far away, but one of these days ...

  4. Delicious and a great idea. Don't think about switching orzo for pasta... now i am pondering!

  5. MJ, love this recipe. Of course, I'll have to substitute arborio rice, but the rest, oh, yum! Delicious. And yes, nice tip about making time to read. It's so important! Thanks for that.


  6. Lucky guests! The photo of your porch overlooking the lake is a beauty, MJ, and your planned meal sounds lovely, as well. We use orzo in soups, but I've never tried it in a shrimp salad, and it's a wonderful idea. I'll definitely make this!

    ~ Cleo

  7. Thanks, everyone.
    Let me know if you try the switch, Dave!

    I think it would be perfect with Arborio rice, Avery. I love rice salads too and I hadn't thought about the gluten factor.

    Cleo, we love orzo in soups, and often cook it in broth and serve with fresh cheese and butter.

    Have a great summer weekend!

  8. Thanks everyone!

    Let me know if you try the switch with pasta, Dave.

    I think it would be excellent with Arborio, Avery. I forgot about the gluten factor.

    Cleo, we love orzo in soup and sometimes cook it in broth and serve with butter and fresh grated cheese as a side.

    Have a great long weekend everyone!