Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Greek - Spinach and Shrimp Orzo

 Yesterday I did an entire audit of my freezer and deep freezer. I was quite pleased with myself that I had managed to keep up with what was older vs newer. That said I noted that I had this one package of frozen spinach in my freezer that had been there since at least December (6 months ago eek!) and a small package of  shrimp and an entire roll of filo pastry.

Having had a break from work my awesome gift of having food brain waves has reappeared. So I looked at the shrimp, spinach and filo pastry and immediately Greek food came to mind. I LOVE Greek food. I thank Vancouver for that - since theres a large Greek community here and as a result a prolific amount of Greek family owned restaurants not counting the cheap Americanised Opa! chain of fast food outlets. Although Ive never made Greek food in my life (does the salad count? nah..) I thought how hard can it be? So I left the filo pastry for another time to make baklava, this amazing pastry and walnut dessert I had about a month ago at a great place called Kefi in Coquitlam. The rest I decided Id make into a simple orzo dish.

Tonight was also the first time I had cooked with orzo and I couldn't believe how simple it is! Yet it was the hardest thing to find at my local grocery store (yes I did look in the pasta section). Its texture when cooked sort of reminded me of really good risotto, lovely and soft however unlike risotto it doesn't go mushy and creamy but still keeps to its form. But the obvious answer to why, is that although a single piece of dried orzo looks like a rice kernel it is essentially a pasta so it tastes like normal pasta only tiny and since its so small it cooks a lot faster as well.

This by far the most easiest new recipe Ive done in ages and its also pretty healthy and wonderfully simple and fragrant in my opinion. I think it only took me about 15-20 minutes overall to make!

Serves 2
1 cup orzo
1 medium onion, chopped
3-4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tsp oregano
1/2 cup vegetable stock
3 cups of spinach (fresh or frozen), chopped and rinsed
1 cup of crumbed feta cheese
2 cups of shrimp, with tails taken off
salt and pepper

- Saute onion and garlic in a pan til tender on medium heat.

- Add in shrimp and cook through, about 5 minutes. (If you're using frozen shrimp like I did, before adding it to the pan put it all in a separate bowl and pour some hot water over the shrimp and wait about a minutes then drain. This will defrost them a bit and get rid of that extra water thats common in frozen shrimp.)

- Season with salt and pepper and add the oregano then turn down to a med/low heat.

- In a medium saucepan fill half with water and bring to the boil, then add in the orzo and a pinch of salt and turn down just a smidgeon. Check your orzo every minute by eating a little bit and once it feels cooked but still quite firm remove from heat immediately and drain but leave a little bit of the boiled water in.

- If using fresh spinach, chop and rinse under water then add to a food processor (a stick blender would work well too) Or if your snazzy with your knife skills just chop it up very finely and add it to the pan with the vege stock. If using frozen, take out package the day before cooking and allow to defrost overnight in the refrigerator on a plate OR just do what I did and put in a glass pyrex jug and pour in hot water and let sit for about 5 mins then using two forks separate and drain in a colander then add to a food processor with the vege stock and pulse.

- Add the spinach to the shrimp etc in the pan along with the cooked orzo and increase heat to low/medium and cook and mix in for about 5 minutes then turn off and serve with feta cheese.


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