Nothing says spring like fresh local asparagus. The season is about done here and the grocery store stock later on will not be as tender, probably because it’s picked too early wherever it comes from. Our local asparagus, even when the stalks look too thick, is always tender and the taste is incomparable. I wanted something grand to pair with the asparagus and the large Louisiana shrimp at Wegman’s was just the right item.
Everything but the orzo was grilled, then it was all combined at the last minute. Cooking the orzo in chicken stock created it’s own sauce, so it was really easy. I added one diced canned San Marzano tomato, some fresh garlic, and parsley to the stock as it was simmering to round out the flavors.
Grilled Shrimp and Spring Orzo
MARINATE THE SHRIMP
- 1 1/2 lbs large shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
- 1/4 teaspoon finely ground white pepper
- 1 tablespoon grated or roasted garlic
- 2 tablespoon finely chopped parsley
Mix all marinade ingredients and add to the shrimp in a large resealable bag. Toss to coat and refrigerate for a couple of hours. Just before grilling the shrimp, thread onto skewers. I don’t add salt until the shrimp are on the skewers ready to grill.
Set up your grill for about 350°-400°; I used 60 charcoal briquettes, turning them out of the chimney into the center of the grill.
- 2 large orange, red, or yellow bell peppers, halved and seeded
- 2 medium onions, cut in thick slices
- 1 lb or more asparagus stalks, trimming if necessary. I only added the 3″ tips to my dish, saving the grilled ends for other uses during the week.
- extra virgin olive oil to drizzle on vegetables
- salt & pepper
- Grill all the vegetables in stages, or as they fit on your grill. Set each aside until all are finished. I peeled my peppers when they were done.
- Asparagus tips: Place crosswise on the grill grate over direct heat, turning as needed to get some char on all sides, but not so much that they are burnt. then move them to the outer sides of the grill to continue cooking over indirect heat until done. I came this close to not dropping any through the grate until I was taking them off:
- Prepare the orzo before you grill the shrimp. Grill the shrimp at the last minute and place over the top of the pasta. Grill over direct heat just until done, only a few minutes on each side until all the shrimp are pink.
PREPARE THE ORZO
- 8 oz whole wheat orzo
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 1/2-1 cup water
- 1 chopped canned plum tomato
- 1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
- 1 tablespoon grated or roasted garlic
Bring all the ingredients to a low boil, stirring often so the orzo doesn’t stick to the pan, then simmer for about ten minutes or until the orzo is tender. Stir in the chopped grilled vegetables, then top with the grilled shrimp.
Includes the recipes for “Deep-fried Breaded Shrimp, Rice with Peas and Parmesan, and Vanilla Ice Cream.”
It’s summer and one daughter and granddaughter are visiting, so there’s that tug between not wanting to do any cooking and doing a little as a treat for guests. I decided to just do it all in one day and let the machines take over. The rest of the week will just be opportunistic eating.
I dragged out the Waring Pro® Deep Fryer (I see the newer ones are digital) and made some breaded shrimp. It couldn’t be easier, except for the three stage flour-egg-bread crumb process and the post eating clean up. In between, the frying is elementary and with no mess. Afterward everything except the heating element goes in the dishwasher after the oil cools, and you really can’t keep oil in which seafood has been fried, even if you strained it in cheesecloth, so disposing of a gallon of canola oil is a kind of a waste.
To go with the shrimp, I let the Black & Decker® rice cooker cook some arborio rice in chicken stock, with peas and Parmesan cheese.
After dinner, I made some vanilla ice cream in the Cuisinart® ice cream maker, with Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Minis added as desired by each guest.
Deep-fried Breaded Shrimp, Rice with Peas and Parmesan, and Vanilla Ice Cream
Deep Fried Breaded Shrimp
- 2 lbs large shrimp, peeled and de-veined
- 1 gallon cooking oil, or whatever your device requires
- 1-2 cups all-purpose flour, seasoned to taste with salt & pepper
- 3-4 eggs, whisked with 1/2 to 1 cup water
- 2-3 cups breadcrumbs, seasoned or plain
Add the oil to the fryer and begin heating to 350° Set up the breading ingredients (flour, egg mixture, bread crumbs) in three separate containers for breading the shrimp. I put the flour in a large zippered bag and coated all the shrimp at once. I put about a third of the floured shrimp at a time in the egg mixture, turning them with a large spoon to coat. Then I put in the breadcrumb bowl with a slotted spoon to drain off excess liquid. I used another large spoon to turn the shrimp in the breadcrumbs. Shrimp are small enough that they are one of the few things you can bread without breading all your fingers in the process. I set out the breaded shrimp on paper towels to dry a little while the oil heated.
About ten shrimp in the basket cook in 1-2 minutes, then drain on paper towels while the rest cook.
Rice with Peas and Parmesan
- 1 cup arborio rice
- 2 teaspoons Better Then Bouillon® chicken base
- 2-3 cups water (I use extra water because of the addition of cheese and peas)
- 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano
- 1 cup frozen baby peas
Plan your rice based on your cooking method and type of rice to be ready shortly after all the shrimp are fried. Follow your cooker’s directions. Arborio rice cooks quickly in a rice cooker—about 30 minutes. during the last five minutes of cooking, stir in the cheese and peas. With arborio rice, this is a creamy dish.
Vanilla Ice Cream
Recipe Credit: Cuisinart® Ice Cream Maker
- 1 cup whole milk
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1-2 teaspoons vanilla
This simple recipe is not one that requires cooking an egg-based custard and comes together quickly. Simply mix the milk and sugar until the sugar is dissolved. Add the cream and vanilla. Start the machine and pour in the mixture. Churn for 25-30 minutes. The ice cream will be soft and about the consistency of an extra-thick milkshake. You can eat it or put it in the freezer for an hour or two to firm up. Serve with toppings, like Reese’s® Peanut Butter Cup Minis.
I hope this doesn’t sound like a complicated meal, because it really was simple and stress free. Tomorrow, the zoo and maybe some summer fare at Sara’s and Sally’s on the peninsula.