Shrimp, orzo and mozzarella bake

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I needed a new use for my nice, cheap, flavorful little shrimp that I’d been buying and grilling a little too often over the summer. I’d tried them with garlic and lemon in salads, spicy straight off the BBQ as a main dish, and mixed with vegetables on kebabs. Jé was getting sick of them, but we had one last package in the fridge that had been meant for guests, but never made. We also had some leftover mozzarella and a few tomatoes after a week-long pizza marathon, and I just couldn’t figure out how all of those things were going to come together into a coherent meal. Thanks once again, Epicurious.

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We both love pasta, but something about orzo gets me going. It’s little and cute and tasty, and apparently goes perfectly with shrimp and tomatoes in a baked pasta dish. I subbed the feta and parmesan that the recipe called for with mozzarella, and it tasted logical. You could definitely cheese this up a little more, or add in some veggies, but it (and it’s leftovers!) was perfect for us as is.

Shrimp, orzo and mozzarella bake
Recipe adapted slightly from Bon Appétit via Epicurious

Ingredients:
8 oz orzo pasta
3 T olive oil
1 C fresh mozzarella cheese
2 T fresh basil
1/2 lb shrimp, deveined
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 small shallot, diced
1 can diced tomatoes + a few fresh, blanched tomatoes
1/2 C white wine
1 t espelette or cayenne pepper
Dried oregano

Preheat your oven to 400°. Cook the orzo according to the package, drain, drizzle with 1 T olive oil and season with salt, and reserve.

In a large pan, heat 2 T olive oil over medium-high heat. Add garlic and shallot and sauté about 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, white wine, spices, basil and oregano. Let simmer for about ten minutes before adding your shrimp. Continue to simmer until shrimp have cooked slightly, but may be still pink.

Add the tomato sauce to the orzo and stir to combine. Place half of the mixture in a large baking dish and add half of the mozzarella. Add remaining pasta, and top with remaining mozzarella. Bake for about 10-15 minutes, until mixture is heated through and cheese is melted.

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