Orzo Salad with Roasted Shrimp & Feta {Cooking for a Crowd-Part 1}

November 1st, 2012  |  Family Dinner  |  0 Comments

I signed up for "hospitality" at my son's school this year instead of going for my usual "room mom".

It made perfect sense, obviously I love to cook and more than that, I love to feed people.  The only thing I wasn't quite anticipating was being assigned to prepare lunch for thirty teachers the morning after Halloween.  I mean, as if I wasn't up all night the night before Halloween, making mini Frankenstein cups for classroom snacks and preparing my family's costumes so they would be totally awesome!  But then to do lunch for thirty the very next day?  Ay-chin-gada.

Knowing that I would be tired, I had to do a little planning ahead in order to pull this off.  There was no chance I was going to stay home and hand out candy and not get to dole out my "thank you's" to all the folks complimenting my son's and husband's amazing costumes.  Yes, I am one of those people that feeds off of affirmations.  So.

So when I started thinking about menu planning, I was originally set on Italian style lunch--lasagna, salad, tiramisu or cheesecake for dessert.  Then I heard that the lunch sits out for a couple of hours while teachers trickle in and out, so I needed a Plan B and I turned to my good ol' friend Ina for inspiration.  {Yes, we are very close.... in fact, she invites me over to her house for cooking classes every day at 10:30am and has for the last seven or eight years}.

While cooking for thirty people might sound intimidating, Ina's recipes are usually so simple and straightforward that most of them can easily be doubled or tripled in order to feed a crowd.  I only needed to make a few modifications and did I mention the rave reviews this meal received??  The teachers loved all of it!

This menu is absolutely perfect for a ladies' luncheon or baby shower and while it was prepared under a tight budget, you would never know it by the beautiful looks {and taste!} of it.

The first item on the menu was this Orzo Salad with Roasted Shrimp and Feta.  This dish can be prepared a day in advance and kept in the refrigerator.  Just hold off on adding the feta until its close to serving time.  Salad should be served cold or at room temperature.

Ingredients:

3 lbs orzo pasta
6 tablespoons Kosher salt, divided
2 tablespoons olive oil
6 lbs jumbo shrimp {16-20 count}, cleaned with tails removed
1 1/2 cups freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 1/2 cups extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper, divided
2 bunches of green onions, light and dark green parts sliced thin
1 cup fresh dill, chopped
1 cup fresh parsley, chopped
2 large cucumbers, seeds removed and diced
1 cup diced red onion
1 1/2 pounds feta cheese, cut into 1/2" chunks

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees on Convection Roast setting [Bake at 400 if your oven does not have that feature].

Fill an extra-large stock pot with water, add in two tablespoons of salt and two tablespoons of olive oil and bring water to boil over high heat.  When water comes to a boil, add the orzo and cook according to package directions.

While pasta is cooking, combine lemon juice and olive oil in a large bowl.  Sprinkle in salt and pepper and set aside.

Place the cleaned shrimp into a large bowl and drizzle with about 2/3 cup of the lemon/olive oil mixture; reserving the rest.

When the pasta is done {al dente}, drain it and return to the pot.  Note:  If you have an enormous bowl, you can transfer the pasta to it instead, but since this was making such a big batch, I needed to use the pot for the size of it.

Drizzle the remaining lemon/olive oil mixture over the pasta and stir to combine well.

On two large rimmed baking sheets, spread out shrimp in an even layer {if you don't have two baking sheets, you can do this in two batches} and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Roast shrimp in the oven for about six minutes, being careful not to overcook them or they will be tough.

Mix cooked shrimp into the pasta and stir in green onions, dill, parsley and red onions.

Allow pasta to come to room temperature and if not serving immediately, cover with plastic wrap and put in the refrigerator.

When ready to serve, remove from refrigerator and stir in chopped feta.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>