Originally created 05/08/02

Shrimp is an easy, yet elegant dish



Instead of standing in line Mother's Day waiting for a table for lunch or dinner, whip up my quick and elegant Lemony Shrimp Picatta.

You can serve the shrimp over a bed of orzo pasta. While I usually cook orzo in chicken broth with liquid-to-orzo ratios similar to rice recipes, for this recipe I'd recommend boiling the orzo in a lot of liquid, then draining and rinsing it under warm water. This removes some of the starch from the orzo so it won't form a mass of pasta while you prepare the shrimp.

Now for the shrimp. The recipe begins by heating a bit of olive oil in a large skillet. You really want the shrimp to sizzle here, giving it a nice caramelization and loads of flavor.

The sauce begins with the leftover juices from cooking the shrimp. Lemon juice and wine are added and brought to a boil. Be sure to use a wooden spoon to scrape any browned bits from the bottom of the pan, as they're a source of wonderful flavor for the sauce.

If you're a regular reader of this column, you know I'm adamant about using fresh lemon juice instead of reconstituted lemon juice. I always keep a supply of lemons in the refrigerator to add zing to salad dressings, marinades or beverages, and there are many easy ways to juice a lemon.

Several types of lemon reamers are available at cookware stores and supermarkets, and a spoon or salad fork also can be inserted into the sliced end of a lemon and given a twist to extract the juice. Placing a lemon in the microwave for 20 to 30 seconds before slicing and juicing helps you get the most juice from your lemons.

The recipe also calls for the rind of two lemons. Grate your lemons before cutting and juicing. You can grate the peel on the fine side of a box grater, or you can use a special zesting tool. The tool gives you long strips of lemon zest, which will need to be chopped more finely before adding to the dish.

The sauce for the shrimp is a classic butter sauce. Adding the butter a little at a time thickens the sauce and gives it a luscious glossiness.

Once all the butter is incorporated, the heat is turned off and some grated lemon zest and capers are added for a classic picatta.

Taste the sauce, and add salt and pepper to taste. Pour the sauce over the shrimp, and garnish your platter with some fresh parsley sprigs and lemon slices. Then, call Mom to the table for an unforgettable Mother's Day meal cooked by YOU!

You can find previous Quick Cooking recipes through the online archive at augustachronicle.com/karin

LEMONY SHRIMP PICATTA

1 cup dry orzo pasta, cooked according to package directions

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

Salt and pepper

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 1/2 pounds peeled and deveined shrimp

1/2 red bell pepper, diced

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

2 lemons, zested and juiced

1 cup white wine or chicken broth

4 tablespoons butter, cut into 4 pieces

1/3 cup capers, drained

Drizzle 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over the orzo and season to taste with salt and pepper. Place on a serving platter and set aside.

Heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium- high heat. Add the shrimp and saute 1 minute, until slightly caramelized on one side. Turn the shrimp over and add the diced bell pepper and chopped parsley. Season to taste with salt and pepper and saute until shrimp are done, about 3 minutes. Spoon shrimp mixture over the orzo and set aside.

Return the skillet to the heat and add the lemon juice and white wine. Bring to a boil and reduce by 1/3. Turn off heat and whisk in the butter, one tablespoon at a time. When all butter is incorporated, add the lemon rind and capers and pour over the shrimp.

Makes 6 servings.

 Calories: 315
 Protein: 20.8 g
 Carbohydrates: 21.1 g
 Fiber: 1.8 g
 Fat: 13.6 g
 Saturated Fat: 5.7 g
 Cholesterol: 182 mg
 Sodium: 540 mg
 This recipe was analyzed using 1 cup of white wine.

 Nutrient analysis provided by Fran Frye, a licensed and registered dietitian of the Augusta District Dietetic Association. Send questions via e-mail to augustadietitian@yahoo.com.