Tomato-Basil Shrimp with Orzo

Before the internet, as some of you may recall, food companies often added recipes to their packaging that would suggest ways to use their products. Of course, the limited space on the package restricted these recipes to relatively simple dishes, but I still remember my mother cutting them out and adding them to her hand-painted tin recipe box, yet another culinary icon of a bygone era.

Today, however, most food companies have taken advantage of the internet to promote their products on eye-catching websites with limitless space, a good amount of which is typically dedicated to recipes that are way longer and more detailed than could fit on any package. And as my mother did with her scissors, I cut and paste them with my mouse and save them in my cyber recipe file.

One of these website recipes inspired today’s post. It’s for Tomato-Basil Shrimp with Orzo and, as you might have guessed, comes from an Italian pasta company, Delallo, who I believe makes some excellent pasta and one of the best orzo available. You can find the original recipe here.

Buying the shrimp on sale and having all the other ingredients on hand made this recipe an easy choice for a weeknight dinner. As I was cooking for two, I halved the amounts of pasta and tomatoes, opted for two rather than three garlic cloves, and used only one pound as opposed to one and a half of shrimp. However, I used the recipe’s measurements for most of the other ingredients and even doubled the amount of wine for the sauce. When halving recipes, I think it better to have too much sauce than too little.

The recipe yielded a lighter seafood pasta dish without sacrificing flavor. The aromatic and spicy shrimp were perfectly cooked and infused the orzo with their flavor, which was elevated even further by the buttery sauce of sweet grape tomatoes and minty basil.

The easy prep and short cooking time make this dish perfect for a weeknight supper, but its looks and flavors qualify it for weekend entertaining (. . .whenever we get back to that).

Tomato-Basil Shrimp with Orzo (adapted from the Delallo website)


½ pound orzo
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 pound raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
½ cup dry white wine
½ pint grape tomatoes, halved lengthwise
1 tablespoon butter
¼ cup chopped fresh basil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Prepped ingredients

1. Bring a large pot of well salted water to a boil. Cook orzo for al dente texture, according to package instructions about 7 minutes. When done, drain reserving ½ cup of the pasta water.

Cooking orzo

2. Meanwhile, in a large sauté pan, heat olive oil over medium high heat.


Heating oil

3. Once hot, add garlic and red pepper flakes. Sauté together for about 2 minutes to infuse oil, being careful not to burn the garlic. The garlic should have only a hint of color.

Sauteing the garlic and red-pepper flakes
Sauteed garlic and red pepper

4. Add the shrimp, season with salt and pepper, and cook until pink, about 2 minutes per side. Remove shrimp, lightly covered, and set aside.

Starting the shrimp
Sauteing the shrimp
Half-way done
Shrimp set aside

5. Add the wine to the pan and allow it to reduce by half, about 2 minutes, scraping any bits from the bottom of the pan.

Adding the wine
Reducing the wine
Wine reduced; pan deglazed

6. Add the tomatoes, season with salt, and 1 tablespoon butter; and sauté tomatoes just until their skins begin to loosen. Season with basil, black pepper, and, if necessary, more salt.

Adding the tomatoes and salt
Adding the butter
Sauteing the tomatoes
The tomatoes are done
Adding basil and black pepper

7. Add the cooked orzo to the pan. If the pasta is too dry, add some of the reserved pasta water. Then return the shrimp to the pan, along with any juices that may have accumulated. Toss everything together for 2 minutes to “marry” the flavors.

Adding the orzo
Orzo tossed with tomatoes
Adding the shrimp
“Marrying” the flavors
Done; ready to plate

8. Serve in warmed pasta bowls.


Wine Pairing: Soave, Vermentino

11 thoughts on “Tomato-Basil Shrimp with Orzo

  1. A lovely dish. I think orzo is one of the most underused types of pasta out there. I love it and shrimp with tomatoes are a perfect match. Oh, I do remember those recipes on the back of the packaging. As a matter of fact, over here we still see them, especially on flour bags. I always cut a new recipe out and put them in a box. I rarely use them, I just think they need to be clipped out and saved…

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