Best Shrimp, Orzo and Zucchini with Ouzo and Mint Recipe - How to Make Shrimp, Orzo and Zucchini with Ouzo and Mint

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Marianna Leivaditaki shows us the creamy side of orzo when she treats it like risotto
Milk Street Bowtie Shrimp, Orzo and Zucchini with Ouzo and Mint

Shrimp, Orzo and Zucchini with Ouzo and Mint

Appears in May-June 2021

1 hour 25 minutes 30 minutes active

Shrimp, Orzo and Zucchini with Ouzo and Mint

Free

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.

4

Servings

Tip

Don’t choose large zucchini for this recipe. Look for small to medium squash (ones that weigh 6 to 8 ounces each), as they have fewer seeds to remove. To seed the zucchini, use a small spoon to scrape along the center of each half. Also, when simmering the shrimp broth, don’t allow it boil or simmer vigorously or the liquid will evaporate too quickly and the finished volume will be too slight.

1 hour 25 minutes

30 minutes active

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 pound extra-large (21/25 per pound) shrimp, peeled (tails removed) and deveined, shells reserved
3 medium celery stalks, roughly chopped
1 medium red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and roughly chopped
1 medium yellow onion, roughly chopped
3 bay leaves
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
¼ cup brandy
1 cup orzo
2 medium zucchini (about 1 pound total), halved lengthwise, seeded and thinly sliced crosswise
1 pound ripe plum or cocktail tomatoes, cored and roughly chopped
1 teaspoon fennel seeds, lightly crushed
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon ouzo
1½ teaspoons grated lemon zest
½ cup lightly packed fresh mint, chopped
Ingredients
  • 3

    tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

  • 1

    pound extra-large (21/25 per pound) shrimp, peeled (tails removed) and deveined, shells reserved

  • 3

    medium celery stalks, roughly chopped

  • 1

    medium red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and roughly chopped

  • 1

    medium yellow onion, roughly chopped

  • 3

    bay leaves

  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper

  • ¼

    cup brandy

  • 1

    cup orzo

  • 2

    medium zucchini (about 1 pound total), halved lengthwise, seeded and thinly sliced crosswise

  • 1

    pound ripe plum or cocktail tomatoes, cored and roughly chopped

  • 1

    teaspoon fennel seeds, lightly crushed

  • 1

    tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon ouzo

  • teaspoons grated lemon zest

  • ½

    cup lightly packed fresh mint, chopped

Directions
  1. 01
    In 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.
  2. 02
    Cool for about 10 minutes, then strain through a fine mesh sieve set over a 1-quart liquid measuring cup or medium bowl; press on the solids to extract as much liquid as possible (discard the solids). You should have about 3 cups strained broth.
  3. 03
    Season the shrimp with salt and pepper; set aside. In a 12-inch skillet over medium, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil until shimmering. Add the orzo and stir to coat. Add the zucchini, tomatoes, fennel seeds, ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Cook, stirring often, until the tomatoes begin to release their liquid, 3 to 5 minutes. Add 1½ cups shrimp broth and bring to a simmer over medium-high. Cook, uncovered and stirring often, until most of the liquid has been absorbed, about 6 minutes; reduce the heat as the mixture thickens.
  4. 04
    Add another 1 cup broth and cook, stirring vigorously and adjusting the heat to maintain a simmer, until the orzo is tender and the consistency is slightly soupy, 3 to 6 minutes. Add the shrimp and another ¼ cup broth, then cook over medium, stirring occasionally, until the shrimp are opaque throughout, about 3 minutes.
  5. 05
    Remove the pot from the heat. Remove and discard the bay, then stir in the ouzo and lemon zest. If desired, thin the consistency by stirring in additional broth, then taste and season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a serving dish and sprinkle with the mint.
Tip: Don’t choose large zucchini for this recipe. Look for small to medium squash (ones that weigh 6 to 8 ounces each), as they have fewer seeds to remove. To seed the zucchini, use a small spoon to scrape along the center of each half. Also, when simmering the shrimp broth, don’t allow it boil or simmer vigorously or the liquid will evaporate too quickly and the finished volume will be too slight.
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Shrimp, Orzo and Zucchini with Ouzo and Mint

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4

Servings

1 hour 25 minutes

30 minutes active

Tip

Don’t choose large zucchini for this recipe. Look for small to medium squash (ones that weigh 6 to 8 ounces each), as they have fewer seeds to remove. To seed the zucchini, use a small spoon to scrape along the center of each half. Also, when simmering the shrimp broth, don’t allow it boil or simmer vigorously or the liquid will evaporate too quickly and the finished volume will be too slight.

Ingredients
  • 3

    tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

  • 1

    pound extra-large (21/25 per pound) shrimp, peeled (tails removed) and deveined, shells reserved

  • 3

    medium celery stalks, roughly chopped

  • 1

    medium red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and roughly chopped

  • 1

    medium yellow onion, roughly chopped

  • 3

    bay leaves

  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper

  • ¼

    cup brandy

  • 1

    cup orzo

  • 2

    medium zucchini (about 1 pound total), halved lengthwise, seeded and thinly sliced crosswise

  • 1

    pound ripe plum or cocktail tomatoes, cored and roughly chopped

  • 1

    teaspoon fennel seeds, lightly crushed

  • 1

    tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon ouzo

  • teaspoons grated lemon zest

  • ½

    cup lightly packed fresh mint, chopped

Step 1 of 5

Cook Shrimp and Vegetables

1
tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1
pound extra-large (21/25 per pound) shrimp, peeled (tails removed) and deveined, shells reserved
3
medium celery stalks, roughly chopped
1
medium red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and roughly chopped
1
medium yellow onion, roughly chopped
3
bay leaves
Kosher salt
¼
cup brandy

In 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.

Step 2 of 5

Strain Broth

Cool for about 10 minutes, then strain through a fine mesh sieve set over a 1-quart liquid measuring cup or medium bowl; press on the solids to extract as much liquid as possible (discard the solids). You should have about 3 cups strained broth.

Step 3 of 5

Add Orzo, Zucchini and Tomatoes

Kosher salt and ground black pepper
2
tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1
cup orzo
2
medium zucchini (about 1 pound total), halved lengthwise, seeded and thinly sliced crosswise
1
pound ripe plum or cocktail tomatoes, cored and roughly chopped
1
teaspoon fennel seeds, lightly crushed
Kosher salt and ground black pepper

Season the shrimp with salt and pepper; set aside. In a 12-inch skillet over medium, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil until shimmering. Add the orzo and stir to coat.


Add the zucchini, tomatoes, fennel seeds, ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Cook, stirring often, until the tomatoes begin to release their liquid, 3 to 5 minutes.


Add 1½ cups shrimp broth and bring to a simmer over medium-high. Cook, uncovered and stirring often, until most of the liquid has been absorbed, about 6 minutes; reduce the heat as the mixture thickens.

Step 4 of 5

Add Broth In Stages

Add another 1 cup broth and cook, stirring vigorously and adjusting the heat to maintain a simmer, until the orzo is tender and the consistency is slightly soupy, 3 to 6 minutes.


Add the shrimp and another ¼ cup broth, then cook over medium, stirring occasionally, until the shrimp are opaque throughout, about 3 minutes.

Step 5 of 5

Finish and Serve

1
tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon ouzo
teaspoons grated lemon zest
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
½
cup lightly packed fresh mint, chopped

Remove the pot from the heat. Remove and discard the bay, then stir in the ouzo and lemon zest.


If desired, thin the consistency by stirring in additional broth, then taste and season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a serving dish and sprinkle with the mint.

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