Discover the Delight of Orzo Salad with Basil Vinaigrette and Poached Shrimp

Which quick-cooking pasta is shaped like a rice grain and means “barley” in Italian?

It’s orzo.

And you need to get to know this delicious, quick-cooking pasta.

You’re going to love orzo’s versatility. It’s used in soups, stews, salads, and can be used as a substitute for a grain in all kinds of dishes, like paella and risotto.

My favorite way to use this beloved pasta is in a salad: Orzo Salad with Basil Vinaigrette with Olive Oil Poached Shrimp.

Is your mouth watering yet?


The Freshness of Basil Vinaigrette

The beauty of orzo is its ability to absorb flavors; and there’s no better flavor to pair orzo with than my basil vinaigrette. It’s the star of this salad show.

It’s fresh, zesty, and packed with the aromatic punch of basil.

Basil has been cultivated for more than 5,000 years and was once considered a symbol of love in Italy.

Basil is rich in antioxidants and has anti-inflammatory properties. This vinaigrette is not only over-the-top delicious, it’s good for you too.

But isn’t that just the base definition of what food should be? It tastes good and is good for you. Yes!


Perfectly Poached Shrimp for Orzo Salad with Basil Vinaigrette

Poaching shrimp might sound fancy, smancy, but it’s an incredibly simple cooking technique.

There are two keys to success with poaching shrimp.

1. Infuse the poaching liquid with lots of flavor. In this case the poaching liquid is olive oil, and you’ll infuse it with bay leaf, peppercorns, lemon, and a bay leaf for starters. add any additional aromatics and seasonings to the liquid to customize it for your tastebuds.

2. Control the poaching temperature. Shrimp are delicate and can easily become tough and rubbery. To achieve the perfect poach, the poaching liquid should be kept at a gentle simmer, around 170˚F. This ensures that the shrimp cook evenly and stay tender. Poach only until the shrimp turn opaque and pinken. This color change is one of the most reliable indicators that your shrimp are done.

The best of cooking is taking simple, fresh ingredients and transforming them into something delicious to eat.

Get to know orzo, make this basil vinaigrette, poach those shrimp and savor every bite of this delightful salad.

Make it today and enjoy it at the table with your friends and family.


Ready to make basil pesto? This is a tried and true recipe.

Here’s another recipe that features shrimp and is super easy.

Shrimp al Ajillo




Orzo Salad with Basil Vinaigrette and Poached Shrimp

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Dive into the flavors of the Mediterranean with this Orzo Salad with Basil Vinaigrette and Poached Shrimp. Delish and easy to make on a weeknight!

  • Author: Chef Sandra Lewis
  • Prep Time: 30
  • Cook Time: 10
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 4-6 servings 1x


Units Scale
  • 2 cups orzo
  • 16 grape tomatoes, sliced
  • 2 shallots, julienne
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley
  • 1 lemon

Basil Vinaigrette

  • 2 cups basil leaves
  • 1 tablespoon roughly chopped garlic
  • 2 tablespoons Champagne vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • kosher salt

Poached Shrimp

  • 12 16/20-shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 1/2 cups olive oil
  • 2 lemon slices
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoons black peppercorns
  • 2 smashed garlic cloves

Optional Garnish

  • Red pepper flakes


  1. Prepare orzo according to package directions. Drain and spread onto a sheet tray to cool.

Basil Vinaigrette

  1. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the basil, garlic, Champagne vinegar, and Dijon mustard.
  2. Process until the basil is finely chopped.
  3. Add the olive oil to the basil mixture with the processor running.
  4. Once combined, taste and adjust the seasoning as needed.

Poached Shrimp

  1. Combine the olive oil, lemon slices, bay leaves, black peppercorns and smashed garlic in a saucepan.
  2. Bring the poaching liquid to a simmer.
  3. Remove the liquid from the heat and allow the liquid to steep for 15 minutes.
  4. When you’re ready to poach the shrimp, reheat the poaching liquid to 170˚F.
  5. Add the shrimp to the poaching liquid and poach just until shrimp turn opaque and pinken.
  6. Remove the shrimp from the poaching liquid to a parchment lined sheet tray.

Assemble the Salad

  1. Combine the cooked orzo, sliced tomatoes, shallots, parsley, and basil vinaigrette in a large bowl.
  2. Stir to combine well.
  3. Scoop the orzo mixture onto a plate or into a bowl and add the poached shrimp on top.
  4. Garnish with a splash of fresh lemon juice and red pepper flakes, if desired.


  • Depending on how large your shrimp are you may need to do two rounds of poaching so that you don’t overcrowd the saucepan. Remove the shrimp from the first round to a sheet tray and repeat the process until all shrimp are cooked.
  • If you buy shrimp with the shell on, poach them first, then peel and devein them. The shells will enhance the flavor of your shrimp.
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