I’m kind of a weird girl.
But then again, I’m sure you realized that by now.
I will tell you I do not like tomatoes, that I hate them in fact!
My dad tells me this makes me “not Italian”..which is really rather funny because not only am I Italian, I inherited this label from him, and yet he hates basil, but that’s a story for another day.
The truth is I hate raw tomatoes.
I try really, really hard to like them, really I do! I try to sneak them into things but inevitably, I always find them and spit them out making a contorted face.
It’s just how it is.
It’s a little depressing really.
However, a roasted tomato? Hooo! Ho ho, now THAT is a different story entirely!
When you roast a tomato, is carmalizes, it sweetens, the flavor deepens immensely, it’s more like candy than a tomato!
This is why I created this pasta salad, to pay homage to the mighty roasted tomato.
This salad can be tweaked based on your taste but I implore you, try it my way once; the sweet, complex roasted tomatoes give it creaminess coupled with the salty tangy feta and the bright spinach. Now top all of that with some sweet, garlicy smoked applewood shrimp and the party in your mouth will be well, a really great party!
So, in conclusion, tomato lovers and haters alike, I say to you, make this refreshing, spring salad and be happy and give a little bow to the mighty tomato.
Mediterranean Orzo Salad with Grilled Applewood Shrimp
1-2 lbs raw shrimp (peeled and de-veined)
2 containers (12 oz. each) cherry or grape tomatoes
1 1/2 cups of reduced fat feta cheese
3 cups of cooked orzo (whole wheat or tri-color if you can find it!)
5 cloves of garlic finely minced
3 tbs. + 1 tbs. + 1tbs. extra virgin olive oil
2 -3 cups of baby spinach
salt & pepper
*1/2 cup of applewood chips soaked
*If you do not have a smoker box for you grill, please, please I IMPLORE you, get one! It will change the food you grill for the better. Here, I found one for you, just soak the chips, add them to the box and put in the corner of your grill, simple.
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees, we are going to roast those tomatoes first.
If you have small, grape tomatoes, congratulations, you do not have to cut them. If you have cherry tomatoes as I did, wash and dry them, remove the stems and cut in half.
Add the tomatoes to a jelly roll pan, drizzle with 1 tbs. olive oil, salt and pepper and toss with your hands to coat, arranging them cut side up (This makes them easier to stir later).
Put them in the oven and forget about them for a good 10-15 minutes, stirring once or twice. I usually roast mine for about 20 minutes or longer, until they release their juices and carmalize like so:
Next, cook your orzo according to package directions for al dente, drain and set aside. You want this to cool slightly, the salad will be served room temperature.
Next, take your peeled and de-veined shrimp, pat dry and add to a bowl, tossing with the minced garlic, 1 tbs. of olive oil and salt and pepper.
Make sure your wood chips are soaking in water, that’s what gives you your smoke.
While you are waiting for your tomatoes to be done, put your shrimp onto skewers, I happen to be in love with my flat, metal ones, but you can use wood, just make sure you soak them first!
Now, your tomatoes should be done, take them out of the oven to cool for a minute.
Go add your wood chips to the smoker box, start your grill on medium-high I’d say, let it heat up and come back to assemble the salad.
Add the feta, tomatoes and remaining olive oil to the orzo, along with a generous amount of cracked black pepper, and salt if you need it (taste first, feta is salty. I didn’t end up adding any to mine).
As you can see, you tomatoes were still a bit hot…I couldn’t help myself OK?! I wanted to try it! Plus I let it cool for a good 10 minutes.
Any-who, toss the ingredients together but leave the spinach out until the last-minute so it doesn’t wilt.
This would be the point where, if you happened to have some fresh basil, I’d tell you toss it in. As I personally did not have any, I added a dash of dried basil but it’s just not the same..although it was good…it would be MUCH better with fresh basil. So add it, please do…and know I’m jealous that you have fresh basil.
Take that Dad! : P..sorry.
Let this sit, you want it to be room temperature remember. Stir it every so often.
Now, place your shrimp on your smoky grill
Close the lid, and leave them alone. I had small shrimp so they only took about 2 minutes per side.
Now, when your salad has cooled, add the spinach, as much as you want.
Excuse me, I need a moment…
I’m just, well, I’m smelling my delicious orzo salad here, I’m terribly busy.
Oh, the shrimp needs to come off the grill you say? Sorry, sorry I’ll just, umm take this with me..
SO! Once your shrimp is done remove it from the grill and CAREFULLY, using a towel and tongs, remove from the skewers…but look at it first.
See that one on the end?
That one is mine.
Now top your salad with a few shrimp and dig in!
Obviously I made more salad than shrimp but that’s OK,
This salad is perfect on it’s own, it’s just the shrimp takes it over the top really.
Mmm, applewood smoked shrimp. I did not like shrimp..until I had these, a Dad recipe..and then I fell in love with shrimp, and never looked back.
It was such a beautiful night out last night we took out little picnic outside to enjoy the gorgeous patio Matt has been toiling over since last Fall.
I’m not sure it could have been any better…maybe if the May flies had minded their own bee’s wax! But still, this refreshing and satisfying pasta salad with that smoky, sweet grilled shrimp, all while sitting in the beautiful outdoors with a cool breeze? Oh there are few things better. 🙂
So, make this, tell me what you think and report back please! This is not to be missed. 🙂
Is there any food you simply cannot like?!