I guarantee a lot of people associate ramen noodles with college life. For many students, ramen is a staple in their every day diet. It’s easy, quick and extremely cheap. What more can you ask for? I admit, when I lived in the dorms freshman year, I often times used my mini microwave to heat up the little ramen noodle bowls for a quick snack. It got old very quickly though! After being accustomed to home cooked meals every day by my mom before college, I’ve found that I constantly need to try new things to satisfy my appetite and cravings.
I’m a big noodle/pasta fan. I’m waiting for the day Arizona opens up a Noodle & Co. because this place can cure anyone’s noodle desire. (If you are lucky enough to have this in your neighborhood, I would suggest the classic butter noodles or pasta fresca!) The Italian in me always makes me want to find new pasta recipes. Another staple for college students is spaghetti; however, there are so many other kinds of pasta that are delicious and worth trying. One is orzo, a rice shaped pasta!
Awhile back I stopped for a bite to eat at 7th Heaven Eatery, a casual restaurant located in Phoenix. I had heard great things about their orzo salad so I wanted to give it a try. The orzo pasta was served on a bed of spinach, drizzled with balsamic dressing and topped off with chicken breast, feta, and toasted almonds. This restaurant has some other great sounding pasta dishes such as the Thai Peanut Noodles and Yakisoba Noodles (the Fisherman’s Stew also sounds amazing!). After devouring my orzo salad, I was inspired to create my own orzo salad! After I found Barefoot Contessa’s (who I love!) Roasted Shrimp & Orzo recipe, I made some changes according to ingredients I had on hand.
Students, do not fret. Orzo may sound scary, but it’s not! You can find orzo in the pasta aisle at your local grocery store. It’s not as cheap as buying spaghetti, but hey, it’s worth it. I promise! This recipe is not hard at all and you don’t need many ingredients to make this pasta dish delicious. I absolutely love shrimp but it can easily be omitted/substituted for another form of protein such as chicken or tuna.
Here is the recipe:
1 cup orzo
1 pound medium shrimp, cooked and peeled
1/2 cup chopped red onion
1 cup corn
1 cup cherry tomatoes
1 green pepper, finely chopped
around 1/2 cup lemon juice (about 3 lemons)
around 4 tablespoons olive oil
4 oz. pitted black olives
salt & pepper (about 1/2 tsp. of each)
optional: scallions, cucumbers, peas, feta cheese, lemon zest for garnish
Directions: Prepare shrimp according to package directions (dethaw if frozen etc.). Cook orzo according to package directions (tip: the orzo tastes best al dente-when it has a little bite to it!). Drain. Run cold water over pasta for about 30 seconds. In a large mixing bowl, toss together the orzo, onion, corn, green pepper and olives. Add the shrimp. Combine the lemon juice and olive oil in a small bowl. Pour over mixture and stir well. Add as much parsley and dill (tip: fresh parsley and dill taste much better but dried works well also) as you like (tip: dill can be very potent so make sure to test the mixture before you add too much). Finally, garnish with cherry tomatoes. Cover and chill for a couple hours.
This dish is so colorful and very easy. I love the combination of the lemon juice/olive oil with the shrimp. The parsley and dill really enhance the flavors of all the ingredients. Barefoot Contessa’s recipe calls for cucumbers which would definitely be a nice addition or substitute for the green pepper. I didn’t have any feta cheese but I think it would be great as a garnish. A lot of college students tend to have canned tuna in their pantry so don’t forget that tuna can be used instead of shrimp. I think I will try this next time! Another tip: keep in mind that this recipe would taste great at room temperature or warm, but I preferred it cold. Make sure to keep the leftovers so you can save time and money! Enjoy!
Finally, here are two more recipes from, my favorite, the one and only, Giada De Laurentiis. I could watch her cooking show on Food Network all day! Tri-Colore Orzo and Orzo Stuffed Peppers. Click here to watch Giada make orzo stuffed peppers for a live audience!