This was definitely one of those surprise meals. As in, I made it not expecting much (and actually not planning on posting about it) and it totally blew us away. I’m not going to lie, casseroles generally let me down. I have a few casseroles that I love, love, but overall, casseroles rarely leave me raving (and if you follow that link, you’ll see I probably have a bit of a flexible view of what a casserole can be). I think it might have something to do with all those different ingredients hanging out together and acting like they should be married. It kind of freaks me out sometimes.
Clearly I was able to get over my issues for this meal. Shrimp, toasted orzo, peas, tomatoes and a bit of feta (with some other simple seasonings) are officially allowed to be friends because this baked casserole is super delicious. Granted, my family and I adore shrimp, so that was already a winning ingredient but keep in mind that because shrimp isn’t the cheapest ingredient on the planet, I’m pretty choosy with how I use it. If it means anything, this recipe definitely makes the worth-buying-shrimp cut and it’s already on the menu again because it’s that good (and pretty darn easy to put together).
Plus, that golden, bubbly feta cheese on top? Heaven help me. I was stealing those yummy bits from my kids’ plate with no guilt in sight.
This meal has a lot of components already wrapped up inside so I keep it simple with…
Fresh fruit or green salad
Steamed broccoli or other vegetable (even with peas in the casserole, you can never offer too many veggies to kids, in my opinion)
Simple Buttermilk Drop Biscuits
Because I live nowhere near fresh seafood, I always buy frozen shrimp in the bags (FYI: most shrimp you see in the meat case at the grocery store has already been frozen and thawed and in my experience, the still frozen shrimp in the bags tastes much fresher). I usually pop the frozen bag of shrimp into the fridge the night before I want to use it, then drain off the water and use the thawed shrimp as needed. I almost always buy my frozen shrimp from Sam's Club when I'm in the big city.
- 1 1/2 - 2 pounds large shrimp (31 to 40 per pound), peeled and deveined
- Salt and pepper
- 1 cup chopped onion (about 1 medium yellow, white or red onion)
- 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 6 garlic cloves, finely minced or pressed
- 1 pound orzo pasta
- 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 cup water
- 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained
- 1 cup frozen peas
- 1 cup (4 ounces) feta cheese, crumbled
- Lemon wedges for serving
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Pat the shrimp dry with a few paper towels and lightly season with salt and pepper. Set aside while preparing the rest of the ingredients. Lightly grease a 9X13-inch baking pan with cooking spray and also set aside.
- In a 4- or 5-quart pot, combine the onion, oil, oregano and 1/2 teaspoon salt over medium-low heat. Cover the pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions have started to turn translucent, 7-8 minutes. Check often so the mixture doesn't burn. Stir in the garlic and cook for about 30 seconds.
- Stir in the orzo, increase the heat to medium, and cook, stirring often, until the orzo is coated with the mixture and is lightly browned, 3-4 minutes.
- Stir in the broth and water and cook, stirring every once in a while, until the orzo is slightly tender but still has some firmness (it will continue to cook in the oven), about 10-12 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, peas and shrimp.
- Pour the mixture into the prepared pan. Sprinkle the feta cheese evenly over the top. Bake the casserole until the shrimp are cooked through and the cheese is lightly browned, 18-20 minutes.
- Serve with lemon wedges.
Recipe Source: adapted from The Best of America’s Test Kitchen 2007 (upped the shrimp a bit, omitted some ingredients like peppers, green onions and saffron, used coconut oil instead of olive oil, altered recipe to use dried oregano instead of fresh)