This easy shrimp, zucchini, and orzo pasta recipe straddles the line between a one-pot pasta a 30-minute meal dinner. But with a healthy dose of zucchini and a bit of heat from Mexican flavors, it should actually fall into the wonder-pot category, because it’s all the healthy flavor bites all in one.
When readers share their biggest challenge with cooking and eating more healthily, 98% of them have exactly the same problem. (btw, email me yours!)
It isn’t lack of desire.
It isn’t lack of recipe ideas or inspiration.
And it isn’t a lack of skill.
What’s the Main Ingredient for a Weeknight Dinner in 30-Minutes or Less?
The number one challenge is always the same: Finding the time to shop, prep, and cook homemade meals with real good real food.
That’s why having a stocked pantry, along with a couple of long-lasting fresh ingredients plus a few freezer staples is my way to successfully challenge that challenge.
What’s the Main Ingredient for a Weeknight Dinner In Just 30 Minutes?
Having a few shortcuts in hand is the key to getting dinner on fast, and there’s no better ingredient than having a well stocked pantry and freezer. That doesn’t mean you need to have an overwhelming variety of oddball products. But keeping stock of the basics works wonders every time.
Three quarters of this recipe are ingredients you can easily keep at the ready because they are either dried/canned/frozen or are slow-spoilers that are simply always in rotation:
- frozen shrimp: save even more time by using frozen shrimp that are already shelled and deveined. To thaw the shrimp, simply place in a bowl and run warm-ish, room temperature water over them for a few minutes.
- chicken broth: I keep my homemade stock in the freezer but also have several boxes on hand in the pantry too.
- dried orzo pasta: some think it’s a rice, but it’s actually a pasta that I’ve used for risotto too.
- canned tomatoes with green chiles: I used the RO*TEL brand with chipotle peppers for even more kick.
- ground cinnamon: it adds an earthy flavor you’re going to love.
- garlic: more and more I’m in the habit of pressing my garlic instead of mincing and recently found THE BEST garlic press to come close to my grandma’s ancient one that works magic. And it’s only $4!!!
- salt and pepper: I always use kosher salt and always grind my pepper fresh (I use my coffee grinder just for this!)
- butter: salted or unsalted it doesn’t matter so long as it’s good quality
- oil: I use canola oil but you could use whatever you have on hand
That leaves the only ingredients you’ll need to shop for fresh are:
- zucchini (which is actually pretty slow to spoil)
- limes (this could technically go in my list above because they last so long)
- shallots (another super slow spoiler)
- cilantro (substitute with parsley if you’re one who isn’t a fan)
About the Recipe: Here’s the Video for How to Make It
One-Pot Mexican Shrimp with Orzo and Zucchini
- 1 pound medium shrimp that have been shelled and deveined
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 4 cloves garlic, pressed or minced, divided
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
- ⅓ cup minced shallots
- 1 ⅓ cup dry orzo pasta
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 1 cup water
- 1 10-ounce can diced tomatoes with green chilies and chipotle peppers (I used RO*TEL)
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Juice of 2 limes
- ¼ cup chopped cilantro
- 2 cups sliced zucchini
- Preheat the oven to 400°F.
- In a large bowl, toss the shrimp with the salt and pepper and 1 clove of pressed garlic and set aside.
- In a large, high-sided skillet over medium high heat, melt the butter with the canola oil. Add the minced shallots and garlic, and cook for 30 seconds or until fragrant, stirring often so the garlic doesn't burn. Add the dried orzo pasta and continue to cook and stir, until the orzo is golden and smells nutty. Add the chicken broth, water, tomatoes with green chiles, cinnamon, lime juice and cilantro, and cook until the orzo is tender to the bite, about 5-8 minutes. Add the zucchini and cook for 2-3 minutes, then top with the shrimp.
- Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake for 10-12 minutes or until the shrimp is done and the orzo is tender.
- Sprinkle with more cilantro and another squeeze of lime if you like and serve!
More One Pot Dinners to Save Your Week
- 20 One Pot Wonder Meals—They’re What’s For Dinner
- One-Pot Skinny Pasta Primavera
- One-Pot Penne Pasta with Turkey and Spinach (healthy but they’ll never realize it is!)
- How to Make Homemade One-Pot Sloppy Joes (my mom’s recipe never fails)
- One-Pan Chicken with Creamy Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto Sauce
- Tabasco Braised Chicken with Chickpeas and Kale (serve this one over creamy polenta for a super tasty bite)
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