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Pesto orzo with shrimp and slices of lemon in a large pan with a gold spoon resting on the right side of it.

Pesto Orzo with Lemon Shrimp

  • Author: Veronika | thehealthfulideas
  • Prep Time: 10 mins
  • Cook Time: 20 mins
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 3-4 1x
  • Category: main dish
  • Method: saute
  • Cuisine: Italian
  • Diet: Low Lactose


This Pesto Orzo is made in one pan with vegetable broth and a handful of other simple ingredients. Topped with sauteed shrimp and really delicious! Perfect dinner for spring and summer.


  • 1 lb raw shelled shrimp, thawed and washed, tails removed (approx. 25 shrimp)
  • 2 tbsp avocado oil (divided, plus more as needed)
  • ½ tsp fine sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • Zest of 1 lemon (1 tbsp of zest)
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-2 shallots, finely diced
  • 1 ½ cup dry orzo
  • 3 cups vegetable stock
  • ½ cup pesto
  • ½ lemon, juiced (plus more for serving)
  • Grated parmesan or pecorino for serving (optional)


  1. Wash the shrimp and make sure they're peeled and deveined. Pull on the tails to remove them if desired. Dry them well with a paper towel and trasfer to a medium bowl.
  2. Drizzle the shrimp with 1 tbsp of the oil, and sprinkle the shrimp with sea salt, black pepper, garlic powder, and fresh lemon zest. Toss to coat well.
  3. Heat up a large skillet over high heat. Add the shrimp in a single layer and more oil if needed. Lower the heat to medium-high and cook the shrimp for about 2-2.5 minutes on each side. After you turn them, add the minced garlic and toss the shrimp in it to coat.
  4. They’re done when they turn light pink and completely opaque. Transfer everything to a plate and set aside.
  5. Add the diced shallot and the other tablespoon of oil and cook, stirring frequently for about 2 minutes.
  6. Add the orzo, toss, and toast for a minute.
  7. Slowly pour in the broth and use a wooden spatula to scrape the bits from the bottom of the pan (this is where all the flavor is!).
  8. Let the orzo come to a soft boil, lower the heat to medium, and simmer, stirring often, for about 10 minutes. Add more broth or water if needed.
  9. When the orzo is cooked, add the pesto, fresh lemon juice and gently toss to combine. Add the shrimp back in, let them warm up and serve with grated parmesan or pecorino if desired.


Shrimp: I recommend using raw shrimp because precooked shrimp would shrink too much while cooking and could become too chewy. Raw shrimp are translucent and blue-ish. Cooked shrimp will be opaque and light pink.

Orzo: If you don’t have orzo or want to make this dish gluten-free, you can substitute any pasta you like. I recommend cooking it separately because it will probably need much more water. Cook your pasta in a large pot and while it’s cooking cook the shrimp with the shallots and garlic, add the pesto, lemon juice, and pasta. Save some pasta water to create more sauce.

Storing: Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for 1-2 days. Reheat in a pan or a saucepan with a splash of water, stirring, until hot.

Nutritional info: The information provided is only an estimate. It will vary based on what vegetable stock and pesto you use among other factors.

Keywords: one pan, pesto orzo, lemon garlic shrimp