You guys, this. was. so. good. The nutty asparagus, the sweet shrimp, the tangy lemon, the creamy cheese -- all the ingredients complimented each other so perfectly. I don't find regular risotto that difficult to prepare, but if you do, rest assured that this came together even easier -- and quicker! -- than a typical risotto.
We all liked this a lot, especially Andrew. I have never seen a child like asparagus as much as mine does. This doesn't really work great as leftovers due to the shrimp, so if you're only cooking for two I'd definitely use less orzo -- about half the amount the original recipe calls for would probably be plenty. This is definitely one to try. It's even fit for company. I'll definitely be making it again.
Mock Risotto with Shrimp and Roasted Asparagus
source: slightly adapted from Soupbelly
10 ounces orzo pasta (I used about 8 ounces, which was still a lot; I'd suggest using about 5 ounces)
16 asparagus stalks, cut into pieces and roasted
12 shrimp, thawed, deveined (I used a 6-ounce package of those tiny pre-cooked salad shrimp, which worked great)
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
32 ounces chicken broth
1 lemon, juiced
2 ounces soft cheese (I used cream cheese)
Parmesan cheese, grated for topping
Chopped flat-leaf parsley
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Heat oven at 400 degrees. Trim asparagus stalks then cut into one- or two-inch pieces. Drizzle with olive oil, salt, and pepper and roast for 15 minutes. Set aside.
2. In a pot, add orzo, onion, garlic, and 2 teaspoons olive oil. Saute until orzo is lightly browned. Pour enough chicken broth to fully immerse all the ingredients, plus one inch. Cook on high until boiling, then lower heat to simmer, stirring intermittently.
3. Keep adding chicken broth as the orzo soaks in the liquid, while stirring, for approximately 15 minutes, until pasta is al dente. Add salt and pepper to taste, cream cheese, lemon and 2 teaspoons olive oil, stirring until cheese has melted and orzo is creamy. Add shrimp and stir until cooked (or just until heated through, in my case).
4. Take off heat and stir in asparagus pieces. Serve topped with Parmesan cheese and parsley.