Summer Shrimp Pasta Salad uses orzo rather than a heavier pasta. / Photo by Linda Gassenheimer/TNS

Looking for a light pasta salad, I decided to use orzo (rice-shaped pasta) instead of the thicker short cut pastas. It makes a light version of a traditional pasta salad.

I like to keep a bag of peeled, frozen shrimp on hand for quick dinners. They can be defrosted in a bowl of cold water in about 5 minutes and take an even shorter time to cook. Follow the recipe below for a never-fail-method for cooking shrimp. They turn out plump and juicy every time.



* You can buy cooked shrimp instead of raw shrimp. Just add it to the other ingredients.

* You can use other vegetables than the ones in the recipe. Use the recipe amounts as a guide.

* Find Old Bay seasoning in the spice section of the market. Smoked paprika works as a substitution.

* An easy way to chop chives is to cut them with scissors.


Summer Shrimp Pasta Salad

1/4 pound orzo

3/4 pound raw shrimp, peeled and deveined

1/4 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise

2 tablespoons warm water

1 tablespoon Old Bay seasoning

2 cups cherry tomatoes, cut in half

2 cups zucchini (cut into 1/2-inch cubes)

1 cup yellow, red or orange bell pepper (cut into 1/2-inch pieces)

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

4 cups arugula leaves

2 tablespoons chopped chives

Place a large saucepan 3/4 filled with water on to boil for the orzo. When the water is boiling, add the orzo, stir and boil 8 minutes. Drain.

Meanwhile, add shrimp to another saucepan filled with water. Bring the water to a gentle simmer. As soon as small bubbles start to form on the sides of the pan (the shrimp will turn pink), drain the shrimp. In a large bowl, mix mayo and water together until smooth. Add Old Bay seasoning. Mix well. Add tomatoes, zucchini, bell pepper and shrimp to the mixture. Toss well. Add cooked orzo and salt and pepper to taste. Mix again. Make a bed of arugula leaves on two dinner plates. Divide the pasta salad between the two plates, and sprinkle chives on top.

Yields 2 servings.

— Recipe by Linda Gassenheimer