Skillet shrimp with orzo pasta

I had this half-written recipe post saved in my drafts titled “BJ’s inspired sauteed shrimp quinoa bowl.” It all started with a date night out to BJ’s Brewery about a year and a half ago when I was pregnant and craving both shrimp and lots of vegetables.

I wrote a recipe inspired by something I ordered at dinner and I remember making it at home once. But I didn’t get around to writing the post and photographing it.

I was planning on making a sautéed shrimp quinoa bowl last night, but it turns out the quinoa in the pantry had expired, we were out of cherry tomatoes, and the mushrooms looked pretty bad. The recipe I had written myself and planned for that day wasn’t going according to plan. So I did some fridge foraging a lá chef Amanda Fredrickson and made an easy shrimp dish inspired by that pregnancy-craving and the skillet chicken with orzo pasta on my own website.

This recipe for skillet shrimp with orzo pasta uses just one pan, making clean up easy, and you can switch it up by adding different vegetables.

It’s a really easy meal and I feel a bit silly sharing the recipe, but I liked it so why not?

I have yet to make risotto or jambalaya, but this seems similar to both. Now I feel confident that I could make either of those two dishes.

Skillet shrimp with orzo pasta

4 to 6 oz (1/2 to 3/4 pound) shrimp
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon finely minced garlic
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion (optional)
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 cup orzo pasta
1 cup water or vegetable broth
1 cup frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry (optional)

Season the shrimp with salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper. In a big 12-inch skillet (one that has a lid for later), heat oil and butter over medium heat, add the shrimp and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes.

Note: If using shrimp that has a peel on, you may want to take the cooked shrimp out of the pan now and peel it before adding it back the pan. I did this so that it would be served without the peel but you may choose to leave the peel on and take it off on your plate later.

Add dried orzo, garlic, and red onion and sauté an additional 3 to 5 minutes, or until orzo begins to brown (like it does when you make a rice pilaf). Add broth or water and red pepper. Stir, cover and simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring once or twice during that time.

Open the skillet, gently stir in the spinach and the other vegetables you choose to use, re-cover and cook for a final 5 minutes.

Note: You could do other fresh or frozen vegetables pretty easily. Some vegetables that would work great: 1/4 cup chopped tomatoes, 3 to 4 mushrooms or 1/4 cup peas.

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