Orzo, Shrimp and Summer Vegetable Salad with Pesto Vinaigrette

For some unknown reason, I feel the need to have an orzo salad with our Easter meal. Why orzo? Why at Easter? We don't really need to answer these questions.    Information that actually might be useful: Orzo is a small rice shaped pasta.  It comes in different sizes, some look more flat and like short grain rice. Other varieties of orzo are more similar to a piece of long grain rice. I prefer the longer, thinner shape. It's not rice, just pasta shaped like rice. Find it in the pasta section of your grocery.

The Easter orzo salad changes a little each year. I love shrimp, orzo and vegetables together. I tried a new recipe this year, and everyone agreed it's a keeper. I know you're going to love it too.

Orzo, Shrimp and Summer Vegetable Salad with Pesto Vinaigrette
Adapted from Bon Appetite 2008
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8 ounces orzo (about 1 1/3 cups)
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 medium zucchini or summer squash (about 9 ounces total), cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick slices
1 red or yellow bell pepper, quartered
3 tablespoons purchased pesto
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 pound uncooked large shrimp, peeled, deveined
2 cups tomatoes, cored, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 2 cups) or 2 cups grape tomatoes, slice in half
1/2 cup thinly sliced fresh basil leaves plus sprigs for garnish
1 8-ounce ball fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 cup fresh spinach, chopped

Cook orzo in large pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally. Drain. Rinse with cold water; drain well. Transfer to large bowl and toss with 1 tablespoon oil.
Prepare barbecue (medium-high heat). Brush zucchini and bell pepper with 2 tablespoons olive oil, then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Whisk pesto, lime juice, remaining 4  tablespoons oil, and remaining 1-2 tablespoons vinegar in small bowl for pesto vinaigrette. Place shrimp in medium bowl. Add 2 tablespoons pesto vinaigrette; toss to coat.
Grill zucchini and bell pepper until crisp tender, about 2 minutes per side for zucchini and 3 minutes per side for bell pepper. Transfer to work surface. Sprinkle shrimp with salt and pepper; grill until charred and cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Place shrimp in bowl with orzo. Chop zucchini and bell pepper; add to bowl with orzo. Add remaining vinaigrette, tomatoes, sliced basil, and mozzarella; toss to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper. 
Garnish with basil sprigs and serve cold or at room temperature.
Serves 4-6 as a side salad
This can be made ahead and kept in refrigerator for up to a day before serving. 

-This can be prepared without a grill. If you have a convection oven, turn the heat to about 425 and cook just until vegetables start to turn golden. You may cook the shrimp in the oven as well, or saute in a pan on the stove. The flavors are definitely better when the vegetables ad shrimp are grilled on a barbecue grill.
-Don't overcook the vegetables.  They should be barely softened when cooked properly. 


  1. Yummmm...I love shrimp and I especially love pesto. The colors of this salad are just beautiful.

  2. i love this salad.

  3. it was delicious for Easter. I LOVED it.


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