I was looking for a baked pasta, which can be a recipe for disaster. Any luck I've had with baked pasta has been by subverting the original procedures in the hope of making something lighter (such as this baked ziti recipe). But it was cold outside, and I really wanted something that would be warming and relatively easy to throw together for a dinner party.
At some point I went from bland and cheesy versions of baked manicotti to this recipe from Closet Cooking. The use of orzo, fresh herbs, shrimp, and feta cheese, really jumped out at me because it didn't seem needlessly heavy. It actually looked balanced.
This is actually a spin on a Greek dish called Garides Saganaki, which certainly explains the use of feta instead of something like mozzarella. I also love the orzo. It provides a great contrast to the sauce, which is bright and fresh, thanks to a healthy sprinkling of herbs and just enough red pepper flakes to provide that warming hum of spice.
- 1/2 cup orzo
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 white onion, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1/4 cup white wine
- 1 1/2 cups tomatoes, peeled and chopped
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
- 2 scallions, green parts only, sliced
- 1/2 pound shrimp, peeled and deviened
- 1/2 cup feta, crumbled
- Salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 425°F. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Cook the orzo according to the directions on the box until al dente. When done, drain in a colander and set aside.
Meanwhile, pour the oil into a large skillet set over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook for 30 seconds, until fragrant.
Pour in the white wine, tomato, and the oregano. Stir well, and bring mixture to a simmer. Cook for five minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove from the heat and stir in the parsley and scallions.
Combine the cooked orzo, sauce, and shrimp in a baking dish. Sprinkle on the crumbled feta cheese. Place in the preheated oven. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the shrimp have cooked.