Baked shrimp with tomato, feta, and lemon-mint orzo

Baked shrimp with tomato, feta, and lemon-mint orzo

¾ cup orzo
1 or 2 shallots
Peeled fresh garlic
¾ pound Roma tomatoes
10 ounces wild Gulf shrimp
Fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon tomato paste
¼ teaspoon red chile flakes (optional)
½ cup crumbled feta
1 lemon
Fresh mint

Cook the orzo

Position an oven rack 7 to 8 inches from the heat source and heat the broiler.
Bring a medium sauce pot of generously salted water to a boil. Add the orzo; cook until just tender, 6 to 8 minutes. Drain, reserving 1 cup pasta cooking water.
While the water heats and the orzo cooks, prepare the gratin ingredients.

Prep the gratin ingredients

Peel and thinly slice the shallots.
Finely chop, press, or grate enough garlic to measure 1 teaspoon.
Cut away the core from each tomato; coarsely chop the tomatoes.
Rinse the shrimp, then drain on a paper-towel-lined plate and pat dry.
Strip the parsley leaves from the stems; coarsely chop the leaves.

Cook the tomatoes and shrimp

In a medium ovenproof frying pan over medium heat, warm 1 to 2 tablespoons oil until hot but not smoking. Add the shallots; cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 4 to 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic, tomato paste, and as many chile flakes as you like; cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
Stir in the tomatoes, season with salt and pepper, and cook over high heat, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes begin to break down, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the shrimp, parsley, and ¼ cup pasta cooking water, adding more if the sauce is too thick. Bring to a boil, then immediately remove from the heat.

Broil the gratin

Scatter the feta over the shrimp; place the pan under the broiler. Broil until the shrimp are firm and cooked through and the feta is melted and lightly browned, 3 to 4 minutes.
While the gratin broils, finish the orzo.

Dress the orzo

Zest the lemon and juice half.
Strip the mint leaves from the stems; coarsely chop the leaves. Set aside half for garnish.
In a medium bowl, combine the orzo, lemon zest and juice, and half the mint. Drizzle with 1 to 2 tablespoons oil, season to taste with salt, and toss to combine.

Serve

Transfer the orzo to individual bowls. Spoon the shrimp gratin on top. Garnish with the remaining mint and serve.

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