Food & Drink

Roasted Shrimp and Orzo a simple Easter dish that can be made ahead of time

You can make this Roasted Shrimp and Orzo dish in advance, which will make hosting at Easter easier.
You can make this Roasted Shrimp and Orzo dish in advance, which will make hosting at Easter easier. Courtesy

How many cookbooks adorn your shelves? Counting them isn’t something I do often, however I do keep them in alphabetical order so I can quickly find books. If you collect cookbooks, you probably have those you’ve purchased for the story, for the cooking knowledge and also for the recipes. A good cookbook should include all three elements.

Local cookbook “Thursday Afternoon Cooking Club,” written by Sondra Langel, sold out its first printing in about a month from its launch in December. If you haven’t purchased yours, you’re in luck because the reprint has arrived in time to gift it for Easter or Mother’s Day. In full disclosure, I did the food styling for this book – but that’s not the reason I’m enamored with it. The reason is it’s chock-full of Wichita history, cooking history, great recipes and stories of the longest-lasting cooking club in the nation. You can purchase the book locally at The Workroom, Trios, Watermark Books and The Wichita Art Museum gift shop.

Even though this club and book have a rich history, it’s full of current, fun recipes. A favorite that puts a pep in a spring step is this week’s recipe for Roasted Shrimp and Orzo. It includes lots of spring flavor: asparagus, fresh dill and parsley, a dressing made with lemon and olive oil and roasted shrimp. The flavors are bright and delicious, and it makes for a gorgeous presentation, as well. Another bonus: This can be made ahead of time since it’s served warm or at room temperature.

When hosting any gathering, make-ahead dishes tend to help quite a bit. There are many entertaining details to remember – setting the table, lighting candles, starting some background music, having drink options readily available and never underestimating the importance of taking a deep breath before guests arrive.

I hope the lack of Easter fare didn’t disappoint this week. Easter isn’t a holiday we host. Instead we choose from that lovely long list of brunch options from Sunday’s paper and celebrate this holiday by dining out. Maybe if you are hosting, you’ll take a totally different twist on Easter brunch and try this week’s recipe. Let me know what you think about it.

Adriene Rathbun is an enthusiastic Wichita cook who offers cooking classes through her business, Social. Reach her at socialcookingclasses.com or ar@adrienerathbun.com.

Roasted Shrimp and Orzo

Kosher Salt

Good Olive Oil

1 ½ cups orzo pasta

½ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (3 lemons)

2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper, divided use

1 cup minced scallions, white and green parts

1 cup chopped fresh dill

1 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

25 asparagus spears, cut into 1-inch pieces, blanched for 1 minute

½ cup finely diced small red onion

15 grape tomatoes, cut in half

¾ pound good feta cheese, large diced

2 pounds, 16-18 count shrimp, peeled and deveined

¾ cup panko

2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese

1 tablespoon summer savory

2 tablespoons melted butter

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Orzo: To a large pot of boiling, salted water with a splash of oil, add the orzo and simmer for 9 to 11 minutes, stirring occasionally, until it’s cooked al dente. Drain and pour into 3-quart casserole.

Whisk together the lemon juice, ½ cup olive oil, 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon of pepper. Pour over the hot pasta and stir well.

Add to the orzo the scallions, dill, parsley, asparagus, onion, tomatoes, 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Toss well. Add the feta and stir carefully.

Roasted shrimp: Place the shrimp on a sheet pan, drizzle lightly with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 5 to 6 minutes, until the shrimp are cooked through. Don’t overcook. Place roasted shrimp atop orzo.

Panko Topping: Mix together panko, cheese, savory and butter. Cover orzo and shrimp with Panko topping and brown under broiler. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Recipe courtesy of Thursday Afternoon Cooking Club

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