Artichoke Spinach Orzo with Shrimp and Feta

Artichoke Spinach Orzo with Shrimp and Feta

I developed my love of artichoke hearts in the usual fashion: I ate my body weight in artichoke spinach dip at chain restaurants in the late ‘90s and early ‘00s. I’m not sure if artichoke spinach dip is technically considered a retro food, but to me, it’s as retro as low rise jeans and dial up internet. 

Retro or not, I would happily demolish it if you put it in front of me, but at 42, I’m probably too old to eat chips and dip for dinner. Eating artichokes in pasta for dinner, however, is perfectly respectable. Consider this a fresher, more grown up take on artichoke hearts and spinach. The artichokes really are the star here as they melt perfectly into the orzo, and the feta crumbles add just the right amount of creaminess.

It’s delicious and my terrible photos don’t do it justice. I’m currently studying food photography tutorials, so my photos will no longer look like they came out of a cookbook from the eighties, but clearly I’m not there yet. Amazon just delivered a ring light and tripod, so that’s one step closer to better pictures.

  • 8 oz shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 2 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup orzo
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • ⅓ cup white wine
  • 2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 8 oz artichoke hearts, diced
  • 5 oz baby spinach
  • Zest and juice of ½ a lemon
  • Feta crumbles
  • 1 tablespoon dill
  • 3 tablespoons  parsley
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Heat 1 tablespoon butter in a skillet. When melted, add shrimp and salt. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes.
  2. Transfer shrimp to a plate and clean out the skillet with a paper towel.
  3. Heat remaining tablespoon of butter and olive oil in skillet. Add orzo and garlic and saute until just lightly browned. 
  4. Add wine to orzo. Once it is absorbed, add the broth, salt, and the artichokes, stirring occasionally.
  5. When the broth is nearly absorbed, add in the spinach one handful at a time, adding the next handful when the previous one is wilted. 
  6. Add shrimp, lemon juice and zest, dill, parsley, and black pepper.
  7. Taste to see if it requires more salt, lemon, or broth. Adjust, if needed.
  8. Serve with feta crumbles.

Vegetarian variation: In place of the shrimp, use roasted chickpeas. Preheat oven to 400. Toss a drained can of chickpeas with olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Place in a single layer on a baking sheet. Roast for 20 minutes. While the chickpeas are roasting, start making your orzo, beginning with step 3.

Wine pairing: Sauvignon Blanc. I suspect that Assyrtiko (a Greek white that pairs well with seafood and feta) would also be a great match for this, but given that I that I didn’t have a bottle on hand to test, I can only confidently say it goes well with a Sauvignon Blanc. Mine was a Pouilly-Fumé.

Styling a bar cart, plus an introduction to wine collecting

Styling a bar cart, plus an introduction to wine collecting

Bar carts are an Instagram/Pinterest favorite, and it’s no wonder. They are almost as fun to look at as bookshelves, and they give your home an instant feeling of hospitality. You can find any number of bar cart rules online, but there really should be no rules. It’s about you and your lifestyle. However, I some guidelines for you to either follow or break:

It should reflect your actual life and entertaining habits. Sure, a bar shelf full of top shelf liquors is pretty to look at, but it’s very expensive and can be impractical unless you are a serious mixologist or throw regular parties. I’m mostly a wine girl so my cart reflects that. And if you don’t drink much, but still like the cuteness and hospitality that a bar cart conveys, consider creating a coffee cart instead of a bar cart. Who wouldn’t want to be a houseguest in a home with an adorable coffee cart?

Consider investing in matching glasses if your glasses are mismatched. As an Official Clumsy Person, I have broken many wine glasses and water glasses in my life. Glasses don’t have to be expensive. Mine are from Target (red wine, white wine). You can also get pretty glasses from Home Goods or TJ Maxx and you can even find full sets at thrift shops, but it’s necessary to consider the replacement issue as you may never be able to find the exact same glasses if you break one.

Add some visual interest. This can be art (hanging above your cart, or propped on it), plants, flower arrangements, a small sculpture, or even pretty paper straws or a candy bowl. In general, I would encourage you to add a decorative element that has nothing to do with alcohol. Mine consists of a photograph that my sister took in Paraguay, which has been one of my favorites for years, and a plant.

Display your interests. If you collect glassware, show it off. Whisky snob? Arrange your bottles by geographical area. My interests can be seen in the wine books on the very bottom shelf.

Treat your bar cart like an extension of your house.  If you have a farmhouse look, add some farmhouse signs to your bar cart. Mid century mod? Go for a sleek cart with metallic accents. Honestly, my cart is a bit more industrial in style than my house, which is mostly a boho/mid century blend, but with accessories it works. Had I purchased it after I bought most of my decor rather than before, I likely would have picked something different, but I do like it.

If your bar cart is primarily wine, here are some suggestions:

  • Always keep one white, one red, one rosé, and one sparkling on hand. There are exceptions (such as if you truly despise rosés and judge the rosé all day crowd), but in general, having one of each prepares you for unexpected situations.
  • Match your wines to your diet. If Asian food is your go to, keep Rieslings on hand, which can hold their own with spicy foods. If your special occasion dinner is steak, you’ll want bold reds like Cabernet or Malbec on your cart. For pescatarians, Sauvignon Blanc and Albariño pair with seafood.
    • To start, Google the wine pairings for your most-cooked meal, or your favorite meal, or your comfort food meal and seek a bottle or two out.
  • Sample some offbeat choices. Most of us only know (and can pronounce) the wines that our grocery store offers. But there are countless wine varietals out there, and many are on the verge of extinction because the wines known as the noble vines are the top sellers. So many countries have great winemaking traditions: Greece, Hungary, Romania, Lebanon, Israel, Georgia, etc. It’s possible your favorite wine will be one you haven’t heard of yet. Flexibility is also important because climate change is affecting the wine industry more with each year.
    • One place to start: Gruner Veltliner (groo-ner velt-lee-ner) is an Austrian white that pairs with difficult-to-pair foods like sushi or asparagus and you can find it in a well-stocked grocery store. (Hint: Look near the Rieslings.)
  • Make friends with the employees of your wine store or grocery store’s wine department. Wine people love to talk about wine, and they will steer you towards the hidden gems.
  • Have at least one special occasion wine. It could be a bottle of champagne or a Barolo with a price tag that you can’t justify for everyday occasions, but there should be at least one bottle that you look forward to opening.
  • If you open a wine and you don’t like it, get creative. Make a sangria or a mulled wine and perhaps the addition of  new flavors will mellow out the flavor of a harsh wine or intensify the flavor of a flabby one. (Yes, “flabby” is an actual wine term; it describes wines that lack acidity. I did not make that up.) Remember, sangria was invented when the working classes had to improve cheap wines, and these days, we all pay good money to drink it.

Happy shopping!