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Recipe for orzo and shrimp salad with asparagus, bell peppers and feta cheese

Orzo and shrimp salad with asparagus, bell peppers and feta cheese. #salad

At our local discount store, Ocean State Job Lot, you never know what you'll find: garden hoses, fleece pajamas, super-cheap small appliances, chlorine pool tablets. As random (and fun) as the shopping can be, there are a few constants; the store stocks the entire line of Bob's Red Mill products, plus foods from around the world like pastas, nuts and spices. On a recent trip, I found whole wheat orzo, and that's what inspired this shrimp salad. I put it together with gently cooked shrimp and asparagus, out-of-season but too tempting to pass by at the supermarket. My "house" vinaigrette, of which there's always a jar in my refrigerator, pulled it all together. As good as this was on the day I made it, the leftovers were equally good the following day, and it will be a perfect salad for picnics in warmer weather.

Orzo and shrimp salad with asparagus, bell peppers and feta (The Perfect Pantry).

Orzo and shrimp salad with asparagus, bell peppers and feta cheese

From the pantry, you'll need: balsamic vinegar, agave nectar, Dijon mustard, extra virgin olive oil, feta cheese, frozen shrimp, orzo or other tiny pasta.

Serves 4-6.


For the dressing:
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup mild agave nectar
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1/2 cup olive oil (not fruity)
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp fresh black pepper

For the salad:
1 cup whole wheat orzo (or other small pasta)
1/2 lb large (26-30 size) raw shrimp, peeled and deveined, defrosted
12 medium asparagus spears, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/4 cup chopped bell pepper, any colors
2 Tbsp crumbled feta cheese


Combine all of the dressing ingredients in a jar with a tight-fitting lid, and shake the jar vigorously to emulsify (thicken) the dressing. Set aside. (This can be made weeks in advance, and stored in the refrigerator.)

Bring 2 quarts of water to boil in a small saucepan. Add the orzo and cook for 8-9 minutes, until al dente (just chewy). Using a slotted spoon or strainer, lift the orzo out of the pot (leave the cooking water in the pot), and rinse under cool water. Drain again, and add to a large mixing bowl.

Set a bowl of ice water next to the stove.

With the pot set over lowest heat, add the shrimp and asparagus. Cook for 1-2 minutes, until the shrimp are pink and curled. Scoop out the shrimp and asparagus, and add immediately to the ice water to stop the cooking. After 30 seconds, drain, and add to the bowl with the orzo.

Stir in the bell pepper and feta, and toss with a few tablespoons of dressing, or just as much of the dressing as you need. (Store extra dressing in the refrigerator.)

Serve at room temperature or chilled.

[Printer-friendly recipe.]

More orzo, hot and cold:
Whole wheat orzo with cucumber, mint, feta, olives, and zahtar vinaigrette, from The Perfect Pantry
Salmon chipotle chowder with orzo and corn, from The Perfect Pantry
Spicy garlic roasted shrimp on lemon-parmesan orzo, from Back to the Cutting Board
Greek shrimp orzo, from Cookin' Canuck

A meal in a bowl: orzo pasta and shrimp salad, with asparagus, bell peppers, and feta cheese.

Need some new ideas to turn your same-old salad into exciting salad? Get Dress Up Your Salad, my e-book packed with easy mix-and-match recipes, full-color photos and a few fun videos. Fantastic salad recipes can be just one click away, on any computer, tablet or smart phone, with the FREE Kindle Reading app. Click here to learn more.

Disclosure: The Perfect Pantry earns a few pennies on purchases made through the Amazon.com links in this post. Thank you for supporting this site when you start your shopping here.


This sounds amazing. I'm a huge fan of whole wheat orzo!

Kalyn, I don't know why whole wheat orzo is so tough to find in my local markets, yet the dollar store manages to have it most of the time. I stock up when I see it.

Sounds like my kind of salad. Looking forward to making it one of my favorites.

Pauline, I'm sure you're going to love it.

It is warmer weather here, and this type of main dish salad really appeals to me now.
My kitchen is hot as it is, and using it heats up the upstairs which heats up my bedroom which means it's too hot to sleep--so this is right up my alley.


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