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Shrimp, Orzo and Zucchini with Ouzo and Mint
In her acclaimed cookbook “Aegean,” Crete-born London chef Marianna Leivaditaki coaxes orzo pasta to a rich, creamy texture, as if making risotto. A fragrant broth of brandy, aromatic vegetables and shrimp shells is the cooking liquid for the orzo, infusing the dish with richness and subtle sweetness. The shrimp themselves are added only after the orzo is al dente so they remain plump and tender. Our adaptation of her recipe takes a simpler approach to the cooking and calls for fewer ingredients but retains the delicious, bracing flavors of Leivaditaki’s creation. Ouzo is a Greek anise-flavored spirit; it’s added at the very end of cooking to accentuate the licorice notes of the fennel seed.
tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
pound extra-large (21/25 per pound) shrimp, peeled (tails removed) and deveined, shells reserved
01In a large pot over medium-high, heat 1 tablespoon of oil until shimmering. Add the shrimp shells and cook, stirring just once or twice, until bright pink and dry, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the celery, bell pepper, onion, bay and ¼ teaspoon salt, then cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables begin to release moisture, 2 to 4 minutes. Add the brandy and scrape up any browned bits. Add 4 cups water, bring to a boil, then reduce to medium and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes.
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