Cold Orzo Shrimp Salad for a Hot Day

When the summer days grow hot enough to make my chickens pant is when I turn to cool summer salads. They are easy to make and easy enough to share with a neighbor or friend. What a welcome gift of hospitality to bring someone on a day when no one wants to cook.

There’s one particular salad we’ve come to enjoy. Years ago, I learned about it on a sizzling hot day when we were visiting in Kentucky. A friend served us a shrimp orzo salad for supper. I am embarrassed to admit I wondered if salad was all we were getting when she set a large bowl of something that looked like cooked barley on the table along with a loaf of French bread. After one tentative small serving, I went back for more surprised by how tasty and satisfying it was. I asked for the recipe and now it’s a regular around here.

The recipe calls for shrimp. Being ignorant and not a connoisseur of shrimp I don’t really know what to buy. If raw, I especially dislike pulling out its slimy gray digestive tract. If you are experienced, then I’m sure you know how to get them all fresh, wild, and tasty. I make do with a bag of wild-caught frozen shrimp from Costco. Anything more extravagant would be wasted on me.

Roasted Shrimp and Orzo Salad

¾ lb orzo  (Bring water, 1 T olive oil, and 1 T salt to a boil. Reduce to a simmer for 9-11 minutes until al dente. Drain. Place in large bowl.)

Whisk together and pour over hot orzo:
½ c olive oil
½ cup lemon juice
1/8 t pepper

1 c fresh dill, finely chopped (I use less)
1 c parsley, chopped
1 cucumber, unpeeled, medium dice
½ c red onion, diced (I often use sweet onion or whatever I have on hand)
¼ lb feta cheese, large dice
2 lbs shrimps, peeled & deveined. Thaw if using frozen. Pat dry on an old dishtowel. Place shrimp in medium bowl and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with garlic salt, pepper, any spice you like that goes with shrimp. Gently toss. Spread in single layer on a baking sheet. Roast under the broiler 5-6 minutes. Watch carefully until they are slightly browned. Don’t overcook. Add shrimp to the orzo and vegetables. Toss well. Add feta cheese and stir gently. Refrigerate for at least one hour before serving to give flavors a chance to meld. Serve at room temp.

I sometimes keep leftovers for up to three days and it only seems to get better. Our housemate exclaims, as she loads her plate, “This is worthy of 5 stars!”

Photo credit:
Photo by Daniel Klein on Unsplash