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Smoky Shrimp with Lemony Orzo, Green Olives & Feta

Posted by Paula Disbrowe on 3rd Jun 2021

Disbrowe calls this her “beach house cooking.” Sweet Gulf shrimp sizzles in a flash, then joins lemony orzo, piquant side kicks and fresh herbs in a one-skillet dinner that feeds a crowd.

2 pounds large shrimp, peeled and deveined, without tails

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling

1 pinch kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste

2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano or marjoram

2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme

1 pinch red pepper flakes

16 ounces orzo

2 lemons

1/2 bunch green onions, white and light green parts, thinly sliced, or 1⁄2 chopped red onion

1/2 cup green olives (any variety), kalamata olives, or oil-cured olives

8 ounces crumbled feta cheese

Place the shrimp in a large mixing bowl, drizzle with enough olive oil to lightly coat, season generously with salt and pepper, and toss to combine. Add the oregano, thyme, and red pepper flakes and toss again, then set aside to marinate at room temperature while you prepare the grill.

Prepare a charcoal grill for two-zone cooking and build a medium-high fire.

When the coals are glowing red and covered with a fine gray ash, add your smoke source (chunks or log). Carefully wipe the preheated grill grates with a lightly oiled paper towel. Using a grill brush, scrape the grill grates clean, then carefully wipe with a lightly oiled towel again and place a cast-iron skillet or grill basket over direct heat.

While the grill heats, bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the orzo and cook according to the package instructions until al dente (tender but still firm). Drain the orzo in a colander, rinse it briefly, then transfer it to a mixing bowl. Drizzle the pasta with enough olive oil to lightly coat and toss to combine (this will help prevent the pasta from sticking).

Finely grate the zest from 1 lemon and add it to the orzo. Halve both of the lemons horizontally (from stem end to the blossom end).

When the fire begins to produce a steady stream of smoke, pour the shrimp into the preheated skillet and cook, flipping the shrimp and rotating the pan around the heat (closing the lid in between to make the most of the wood smoke) until just cooked (they will turn opaque and be firm and springy to the touch), 5 to 6 minutes total. Remove the pan from the heat and let the shrimp cool briefly.

Brush the cut sides of the lemons with olive oil and grill the citrus cut-side down over direct heat until dark char marks appear, 2 to 3 minutes.

Add the warm shrimp and any juices to the orzo and toss to combine. Add about 1⁄3 cup olive oil, the green onions, olives, and feta and toss gently to combine. Taste and adjust the seasonings, adding more salt or pepper as desired. Divide the pasta and shrimp among bowls and serve warm or at room temperature with the grilled lemon halves. Refrigerate any leftovers in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 4 days.