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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.

Shrimp with Olives, Tomatoes, Orzo
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
Elise Bauer

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

Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 25 mins
Total Time 35 mins
Servings 4 servings
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 tablespoons extra virgin 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 tablespoons 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.

    Elise Bauer
    Elise Bauer
  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.

    Elise Bauer
  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.

    Elise Bauer
    Elise Bauer
  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.

    Elise Bauer
    Elise Bauer