Lemon Shrimp Orzo with Asparagus is a 30-minute Mediterranean-style dinner This looks like a fancy restaurant quality main course. It’s light, refreshing and perfect for a quick summer meal or an easy weeknight dinner. The orzo is coated in a delicious layer Lemon Garlic Butter Sauce and garnished with capers and fresh herbs (basil and thyme).
Lemon Shrimp Orzo (30 Minute Meal)
This easy weeknight dinner is really light yet filling. You can prepare this refreshing summer pasta dish not only in spring and summer, but practically all year round (if you can find asparagus). Lemon Shrimp Orzo is so easy it’s ridiculous. So much flavor for just 30 minutes of work. And the dish looks and tastes like something you would order at an upscale restaurant. Perfect for sharing with your friends and family on weekdays or special occasions. I hope you give it a try and it might become your new favorite dish to add to your dinner!
Quick overview of the recipe
The shrimp are pan seared with Italian seasoning, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. After the shrimp are cooked, remove them from the pan, deglaze the pan with the lemon juice, white wine, and chopped garlic, and finally add the butter. Then combine all those delicious juices with cooked orzo, cooked asparagus, cooked shrimp and capers. Squeeze even more lemon juice into the last dish. If you’re looking for more inspiration for your dinner with similar flavors, don’t miss these two delicious recipes:
Why you will love it
- Simple but chic! As simple as this recipe is, it looks and tastes like a Restaurant quality dish. The entire recipe only takes 30 minutes to prepare, making it perfect for dinner when entertaining. Spend more time with your family and friends and not in the kitchen!
- The juiciest shrimp. Prawns are quickly seared to perfection in a pan with olive oil and spices. This recipe will show you how to properly cook shrimp so they turn out delicious, juicy, tender and never dry and rubbery.
- Nourishment. Lemon Shrimp Orzo is high in protein and packed with veggies (asparagus).
Lemon Shrimp Orzo with Asparagus
Lemon Shrimp Orzo with Asparagus is a 30-minute Mediterranean-style dinner that looks like a fancy, restaurant-quality entree. It’s light, refreshing and perfect for a quick summer meal or an easy weeknight dinner. The orzo is coated in a delicious lemon and garlic butter sauce and garnished with capers and fresh herbs (basil and thyme).
- 1 Pound asparagus Trimmed ends, cut into 2-inch slices
- 1 Cup orzo uncooked
- 2 cups chicken broth or vegetable broth or water or vegetable broth or water
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 1.5 Pound raw shrimp peeled, deveined, tail removed (large – about 15-20 per pound)
- ½ teaspoon Italian spice
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- ¼ teaspoon salt to taste
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 5 cloves Garlic chopped
- ¼ Cup freshly squeezed lemon juice 1 large lemon
- ¼ Cup dry white wine
- 3 tablespoon Salted butter
- 3 tablespoon capers
- fresh basil
- fresh thyme
In a medium saucepan (the same one you used to cook asparagus) combine 1 cup uncooked orzo and 2 cups chicken broth (or water). Bring to the boil briefly, reduce to a visible simmer and cook covered for approx. 10 minutes (according to package instructions).
After five minutes of cooking, check the orzo and stir it so it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan.
Orzo is done when all the water has been absorbed and the orzo has a nice texture like cooked pasta. You may need to add more water at the end if the orzo is undercooked or the water evaporates too quickly.
While the orzo cooks, continue with the rest of the recipe.
Heat a large, high-sided skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Add olive oil – it should flow easily but not sizzle or burn. Add shrimp without overcrowding (you may have to cook in two batches). Sprinkle shrimp with seasoning (Italian seasoning, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper).
Cook the shrimp, turning once or twice, over medium-high heat until pink in color, about 3-4 minutes total.
Take the shrimp out of the pan.
Add minced garlic, lemon juice, and white wine to the pan you cooked the shrimp in and deglaze the pan. Reduce the heat and cook until the sauce has reduced slightly and the garlic is soft. Remove from the heat and fold in the butter, remove from the heat and allow to melt in the sauce.
Add the cooked orzo, cooked asparagus, and 2 tablespoons of capers to the pan with the lemon garlic butter sauce. Stir to combine. Taste and season with more lemon juice, red pepper flakes and/or just salt and pepper.
Add cooked shrimp to orzo and stir to reheat over low heat.
When serving, top with the remaining 1 tablespoon (or more) capers, chopped fresh basil, and thyme. If you like, squeeze some lemon juice over the shrimp.
The nutritional information on this website is an estimate only and is provided for convenience and courtesy only. The accuracy of the nutritional information for each recipe on this website cannot be guaranteed. It should not be used as a substitute for the advice of a professional nutritionist.
What is orzo?
Orzo is a short pasta shaped like long grain rice. It is made from flour, like ordinary pasta. Orzo is often made from semolina (durum wheat used to make pasta).
How do you cook orzo?
Cook orzo in a 1:2 ratio (1 cup orzo with 2 cups chicken broth or water) for about 10 minutes over low heat (simmer) – medium-low heat. All of the water (or chicken broth) should be absorbed by the orzo. If the heat is too high and some water evaporates, you may need to add extra liquid (about ¼ cup, sometimes more). Properly cooked orzo should have a soft texture, just like regular cooked pasta.
What kind of pan should I use?
Use a large, high-sided, heavy-bottomed pan For example an 11 inch or 12 inch cast iron pan or a high quality stainless steel pan. This will help prevent burn marks and ensure even cooking without lemon shrimp orzo sticking to the bottom of the pan.
Can it be made gluten free?
Make this recipe gluten free by using orzo that is clearly labeled as “gluten-free”. Or just use long grain rice instead.
Can it be made dairy free?
Leave out the butter and just use more high-quality extra virgin olive oil instead. Or use your favorite non-dairy butter alternative.
- Use large raw shrimp, not a small kind. Also, do not use pre-cooked small shrimp. If you use large raw shrimp and cook them with spices, you get a lot more juice and a lot more flavor! Using larger shrimp also gives a nice presentation.
- For raw shrimp, make sure they are peeled and deveined.
- Take off the tails. It’s easier and less messy to eat the shrimp with a fork and knife instead of lifting them out of the creamy sauce by the tail. So I recommend removing the tails.
- Do not overcook shrimp. Cook until pink in color, just about 2 minutes per side. Overcooking the shrimp will result in a rubbery texture.
- Use freshly squeezed lemon juice – It’s not as acidic and has a much richer flavor. You can also use lime juice.
- Don’t skip capers. They add a nice salty flavor to orzo.
Variations, Substitutions and Add-ins
- Use other types of seafood, such as scallops, lobster meat, crab meat or salmon.
- Vegetables. Add your favorite vegetables. My favorites are asparagus, green beans, broccoli, spinach, kale. You can also add peppers, mushrooms and zucchini.
- Rice. Instead of orzo, use long grain rice, brown rice, or even wild rice.
- Add olivesfinely chopped in place of or in addition to capers.
- Sprinkle with freshly grated cheese: Parmesan, Asiago, Gruyere or Pecorino Romano.
- Add pine nuts as a topping. For an even more intense flavor, I like to toast pine nuts briefly (and gently!) in the oven.
- Add more toppingssuch as fresh herbs (basil, thyme or oregano), chopped spring onions or chopped chives.
- Make it sharp. Red pepper flakes provide more heat. Depending on your taste, use these sparingly so they don’t overwhelm the dish.
Storage and reheating tips
Because this recipe doesn’t use cream or cheese, it’s super easy to store and reheat. You can also easily prepare it ahead and freeze it.
- Refrigerator. Store cooked lemon shrimp orzo in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
- Freezer. Freeze in an airtight container for up to 1 month.
- Reheat in the microwave. Heat in the microwave for about 1 minute. Taste and reheat for an additional 30 seconds if necessary.
- Warm up on the stove. Heat this dish in a large, high-sided skillet on the stovetop over low-medium heat. Add a small amount of olive oil and lemon juice as you reheat to prevent the shrimp orzo from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
What should you serve with it?
Because lemon shrimp orzo already combines carbs (orzo) with protein (shrimp) and veggies (asparagus), serve it with a light and bold or plain salad. Here are some of my favorites:
Strawberry Spinach Salad with blueberries, feta cheese, pecans and a simple balsamic dressing
Arugula salad with lemon zest, pine nuts, parmesan and balsamic dressing
Avocado Mango Salad
Apple and spinach salad with pecans, cranberries, goat cheese and maple lime mustard dressing
Arugula salad with pears, apples, cashews and homemade balsamic vinaigrette
Easy Spinach Salad with Pine Nuts and Parmesan Cheese