Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Late Summer Recipe: Orzo with Shrimp, Zucchini, Tomatoes, and Purple Basil

green and purple basil

Which would you choose, the green or purple basil?

I choose the purple every time. Not only is purple basil more alluring with its rich, regal purple leaves, but it's also more robust in flavor. And it's more fun to say. Come on, say it: purple basil. See what I mean?

There's no better time to enjoy purple basil than late summer and early fall. Whether you grow it in your garden or buy it at your farmers' market, you can use purple basil just as you would green basil in pestos, pastas, salads, sandwiches, vegetable sautes, stir-fries, soups, and drinks. Just remember to use less since it's more assertive than green basil.

So next time you've got the choice, go with purple basil. You'll smile all the way to your kitchen.

orzo with shrimp, zucchini, tomatoes, and purple basil

Orzo with Shrimp, Zucchini, Tomatoes, and Purple Basil
Purple basil is an intensely flavorful and colorful variety of basil. It's available at farmers' markets and some specialty grocery stores. If you can't find it, then substitute equal amounts of Thai basil or a larger amount of regular green basil.

Makes 4 servings
Printable recipe.

1/2 cup uncooked orzo
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small garlic clove, minced
16 extra large shrimp, peeled and de-veined
1 cup zucchini, sliced into thin rounds, then sliced in half
2 tablespoons dry white wine
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Zest of 1/2 lemon (about 1 to 2 teaspoons)
1 cup halved cherry or grape tomatoes
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1-2 tablespoons thinly sliced purple basil

1. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Cook orzo according to package directions until al dente. Drain.

2. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil. Add garlic, stirring about 1 minute, until fragrant. Add shrimp, and cook until they turn bright red and the meat is opaque. Add zucchini and cook about 5 minutes, until softened and lightly browned in spots. Add wine and lemon juice, and lower the heat to medium. Add lemon zest, tomatoes, and salt and pepper. Taste it, and adjust seasonings as necessary. Add to the cooked orzo and toss well. Gently stir in the purple basil saving a few of the slices for garnish.

Variation: Use chicken or tofu in place of the shrimp.

You might also enjoy these purple basil recipes:
Purple Basil Vinegar recipe from Local Kitchen
Purple Basil Lemonade recipe from Bird Food
Purple Basil Pesto recipe from Farm Girl Fare
Blackberry Purple Basil Pielets recipe from Biscuits & Such
Blueberry Tea Cake with Purple Basil, Lemon Thyme, and Lavender recipe by Barefoot Kitchen Witch