Shrimp with Olives, Tomatoes, and Orzo

This Shrimp Orzo with Olives and Tomatoes is a perfect easy midweek dinner with shrimp, black olives, fresh tomatoes, capers, garlic, arugula, and orzo pasta.

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Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

Shrimp lovers! Have you ever tried shrimp with black olives?

It’s one of those master flavor combos which I’m sure chefs have known about for years, but I discovered by accident the other day when I happened to have some cooked shrimp and canned olives in the fridge and I took a bite of each. Wow, so good!

Here’s the recipe that evolved from that serendipitous moment—a quick and easy dinner with shrimp cooked in a fresh tomato, garlic, caper, and olive sauce, tossed with orzo pasta and chopped arugula.

Shrimp with Tomatoes, Olives, & Orzo

Every bite is packed with flavor, which is well balanced with the sweet shrimp, salty tangy capers, acidic and sweet tomatoes, garlic, buttery olives, and peppery arugula.

I’ve left the tails on the shrimp because 1) they look prettier, and 2) I love pulling the last bit of shrimp out of the shell as I eat them, but feel free to use fully shelled shrimp if you prefer.

The dish is served warm, but you could easily eat it at room temp or cold. It reheats fine for leftovers the next day.

BTW, this dish gets a hearty seal of approval from both my father and my sweetheart, two thumbs up!

Shrimp with Olives, Tomatoes, and Orzo Recipe

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  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4

No need to blanch and peel the tomatoes first, they're fine as is, chopped up for this fresh sauce.

Shrimp can be fully shelled or you can leave the tails on, your preference.

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces orzo pasta
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pound ripe fresh tomatoes (about 4 medium tomatoes), chopped (about 3 cups)
  • 1 1/2 cups of chopped ripe black olives
  • 2 Tbsp capers (including caper juice)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 pound medium to large raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 cup chopped fresh baby arugula (or 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley)

Method

1 Cook the pasta: Put a pot of salted water (1 Tbsp of salt for 2 quarts of water) on to boil.When the pasta water is at a rolling boil, add the orzo. Once the water returns to a boil, the pasta should take about 8 to 10 minutes to cook to reach al dente (cooked but still a little firm to the bite).

While the water is heating and the pasta is cooking, cook the tomatoes and shrimp in the next steps.

2 Cook the garlic and tomatoes: Heat 3 Tbsp oil in a large, wide sauté pan on medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant (about 30 seconds). Stir in the chopped tomatoes, increase the heat to medium high, and let cook for about 5 minutes.

3 Add the olives, capers, salt, pepper: Stir the capers and chopped olives in with the tomatoes. Add 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper.

4 Add the shrimp: A few minutes before the orzo is ready, add the shrimp to the tomatoes and olives. Let the shrimp cook on one side for a couple minutes, then turn them over to cook for a minute or two on the other side.

Remove from heat as soon as the shrimp are almost cooked through.

5 Drain the pasta, add to shrimp and tomatoes: When the pasta is al dente, drain it and stir it into the tomatoes and shrimp. Stir in the chopped arugula or parsley.

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Showing 4 of 13 Comments

  • Sharon

    This looks outstanding! I’m planning to use Niçoise olives and brown rice, maybe add some asparagus and probably some red pepper flakes. I can never leave a recipe alone…even my own!

  • Donna

    I made this as a cold salad didn’t cook tomatoes garlic and olives didn’t use capers used scallions and good seasons salad dressing it was delicious

  • Malika A. Black

    Quick and easy. I love the capers and olives.
    This is great for me. I always have orzo pasta in my pantry. We use it a lot in North African recipes, especially soups!
    Thanks!

  • Wanda

    Amazing–magically rich and light at the same time!! Hubby suggested green olives instead of black; I countered with kalamata–this is definitely a work in progress at our house. Thanks for a great recipe–it will be interesting to see what we end up with after a couple more tries with this recipe. This is definitely a keeper!

  • Brian

    Can’t wait to try this. So many little things to tweak to personalize it! Try fire roasted or even sun dried tomatoes, switch to Kalamata olives (but I am really curious about the black olive/shrimp pairing), maybe a squeeze of lemon juice too!

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Shrimp with Olives, Tomatoes, OrzoShrimp with Olives, Tomatoes, and Orzo