This Lemon Orzo with Shrimp & Roasted Vegetables made in the Ninja Speedi is a dream dinner because it's beautiful enough to serve to guests and easy enough to make for a weeknight dinner. The combination of flavors and textures in this dish is amazing and it's all done with simple prep and a push of a button.
The Ninja Speedi is an appliance that is similar to the Ninja Foodi Pressure Cooker & Air Crisper, but smaller and square in design. It doesn't pressure cook, but it does many of the other functions that the Ninja Foodi OL series does. Its signature group of functions is called Rapid Cook and it does this by combining dual cooking methods of both wet and dry methods.
Steam is a better conductor of heat than air is, so by starting off the cooking process with steam you are jump-starting the cooking process and, therefore, speeding up the time it takes to cook your meal.
Don't worry if you don't have the Ninja Speedi and still want to make this recipe; you absolutely can, and I will go over a few different ways to make it in the article below. I have a very popular recipe that has similar ingredients but is made in the Ninja Foodi Pressure Cooker & Air Crisper, so you can definitely take a look at that one if you want a quick and easy pressure cooker meal. Here is the recipe: Lemon Pasta with Vegetables
Ingredients & Substitutions
I used orzo in this recipe and the end result was outstanding, the pasta was a perfect al dente and in case you aren't familiar with orzo, it's pasta, but sort of looks like rice. The shape and texture of the orzo pairs perfectly with the shrimp and roasted vegetables and I know you will love it! However, if you don't have or can't find orzo pasta, here are some ideas for substitutions.
Long-grain rice such as white rice, basmati rice, or jasmine rice. The liquid-to-rice ratios would be the same and the cooking instructions will stay the same when substituting long-grain rice for orzo as long as it's white rice. Brown long-grain rice takes longer to cook and sometimes needs more liquid, so you would have to adjust for that if using it.
You could also substitute a long pasta such as spaghetti noodles but would need to break them up so they fit under the liquid. I have not tested the recipe this way so I am not sure if the liquid amount would need to be decreased. Usually, if the pasta is fully covered with liquid that is enough liquid. Please let me know if you try this substitution and how it worked for you. I do not recommend using angel hair pasta because it cooks so quickly. I think it would be overcooked before the vegetables are roasted.
The beauty of a dish like this is you can use practically any vegetable you like. I chose to use cherry tomatoes, garlic, onions, spinach, and peppers because I love all of these vegetables and they pair perfectly together. You could skip the spinach and use asparagus instead. If you want to use asparagus, you can either roast it on top with the other veggies or cook it first and then add it in at the end. Here is a recipe for cooking asparagus that you want to add to a salad or a dish like this one: Ninja Foodi Asparagus.
The Speedi rack is limited in space and, while you absolutely can pile on the veggies, only the veggies right on top are going to get the char on them which gives them the roasted flavor. Keep that in mind when choosing your vegetables and the amounts to use. Try to keep the total to about 3 cups which fits nicely on the rack and also gives a good ratio of vegetables to pasta in the finished dish.
The garlic cloves go in whole and this brings a nice sweetness to the garlic, and it's delicious in the dish. If you wanted to use minced garlic instead, only use about 1 teaspoon so the garlic flavor is not overwhelming.
The onion also gives flavor to the dish but can be omitted if you aren't a fan of onions. I used a sweet onion, but you can use any kind of onion you have on hand. You could also use green onions chopped and added at the end.
The most important thing to keep in mind when choosing the veggies is cook time. For example, a hearty root vegetable like turnips would not cook correctly in the short time this dish cooks, so that is not the best option unless you cook it ahead of time and then roast it up.
My rule of thumb with all recipes is to use what you love and love what you make, so feel free to experiment with the veggies!
I chose small peeled shrimp for this recipe because it is usually very easy to find at grocery stores, it cooks very quickly, and it doesn't require any prep except to thaw it. The size of the shrimp does affect the cook time and for this recipe we want the shrimp to cook using the residual heat of the orzo pasta. For this reason, it is important to use small shrimp with a count of 60-80 per pound if you are going to use raw shrimp.
If you want to use already cooked shrimp, you can use any size you like and add them after the orzo and vegetables are cooked so they warm up in the dish.
You can also switch out the shrimp for chicken by using cubed chicken breasts and adding them to the orzo and liquid before you start the cooking process. I would reduce the liquid by about ¼ cup per pound of chicken you use, because the chicken will give off liquid and you don't want the end dish to be soupy.
You can also use different types of already-cooked meats and seafood in this recipe. For example, you can make the lemon orzo with roasted veggies as a side dish, leaving out the shrimp, and place a nice piece of roasted salmon or another type of fish on top. The lemon orzo with roasted veggies would be fantastic with seared scallops.
The dairy in this recipe is butter and parmesan cheese.
The combination of the butter and parmesan cheese creates a sauce of sorts for the orzo and complements the other flavors perfectly.
Both can be omitted if you prefer not to use them. You don't have to make any changes to the recipe if you leave them out, because the liquid from the butter is not enough to worry about, especially if you leave out the parmesan cheese.
You can always add in more broth or thin liquid after cooking, so stick with 2 cups of vegetable broth if you omit the butter.
Liquids and Seasonings
I used vegetable broth in this recipe because I wanted to make it easy to remove the shrimp and have it be suitable for a vegan or vegetarian dish. You can use any type of broth you like. Or, you could even use part white wine and part broth if you like. As long as you have a total of 2 cups of thin liquid.
With dishes like this one, the flavors of the vegetables are the star of the show, so keep the seasonings simple. I only used salt and pepper while making the dish which let the veggies shine. At the end, I garnished with fresh basil and this added a lovely flavor. You could also use fresh parsley if you prefer.
The lemon in this recipe gives a bright flavor without being overbearing. It's important to use both the zest and the juice from the lemon for the best lemon flavor. You can absolutely omit the lemon if you don't want any lemon flavor. I don't think you need to increase the broth amount when omitting the lemon juice.
How to Make Lemon Orzo with Shrimp and Vegetables in the Ninja Speedi
The prep for this recipe takes about 10 minutes and I strongly recommend having everything cut up, measured out, and ready to go before starting the recipe. It moves fast once you start making it and you don't want to be in a position where the orzo is in the pot but the vegetables aren't chopped. The orzo could start to absorb the liquid and then the end result will be affected.
Mise En Place (or prep for recipe)
If you are using frozen shrimp in this recipe, you will want to thaw them before adding them to the lemon orzo at the end. You can do this the day before by placing the shrimp in a bowl and keeping them in the refrigerator or you can do a quick thaw by placing the shrimp in a bowl of cold water and sit it on the counter OR you can put the frozen shrimp in a colander and run cold water from the sink over them for 10 minutes.
Shrimp thaw very quickly, so I usually take them out of the freezer when I am getting the rest of the ingredients out and they are thawed and ready to drain by the time I'm ready to use them in this recipe.
Vegetables & Fruit
Slice the cherry tomatoes in half.
Chop the onion into slices or large pieces, it doesn't really matter what size they are so cut them the way you want them to be in the finished dish. I like to cut them into 2" strips so they are big enough to be noticed, but not so big they are hard to eat.
Slice the mini peppers into ½" rounds or cut the red bell pepper into strips about ½" wide.
Peel the garlic cloves and leave them whole or gently smash them. Either way works great. Leaving them whole will give you large pieces of garlic when serving and smashing them will give you smaller pieces when serving.
Zest the lemon and cut it in half. Juice the lemon into a small bowl. You will get about 3-4 Tablespoons of juice from one large lemon. To maximize the amount of juice you get, use a juicer like this one: Pampered Chef Citrus Press
If you are using a block of parmesan, finely grate it.
Measure out the butter and vegetable broth or whatever broth you are using and have your salt and pepper nearby.
Setting up the Ninja Speedi
Make sure the inner pot is inside the Ninja Speedi and add 2 cups of vegetable broth, 2 Tablespoons of butter and your garlic cloves
Make sure you are ready to start cooking before placing the orzo in the pot. You don't want it to sit in the liquid for any period of time.
Put the cup of orzo in the bottom of the Ninja Speedi and spread it around so it is under the liquid.
Place the Speedi rack in the upper position by extending the four legs and having it rest on the notches of the inner pot.
Place the cut-up vegetables on top of the rack. Drizzle with olive oil (or your oil of preference) and lightly season with salt and pepper.
Cooking in the Ninja Speedi
This is the fun part! Close the lid, and make sure the lever is in the up position for Rapid Cook. Select the steam/crisp function. Set the temperature to 375℉/190℃ and the time for 10 minutes.
Close the lid and let the Speedi do its thing. It will take a few minutes for the Speedi to heat the water in the inner pot which will start to cook the orzo and the vegetables. Then it will switch over to the crisping lid and roast the vegetables while the orzo finishes cooking. It's truly a beautiful thing!
You can check on your vegetables anytime after the clock countdown to 5 minutes, but remember: every time you open the lid, you let heat out and that slows the cooking process. Personally, I would wait until there is only 2-3 minutes left before checking on the vegetables.
I like a nice char on my veggies, so I let them cook the entire 10 minutes. If you don't want as much char, stop the cooking cycle at 8 minutes and increase the rest period in the next step to 7 minutes to make sure the orzo is perfectly cooked.
Once the vegetables are cooked to your liking or the 10-minute cooking cycle is up, open the lid and dump the vegetables into the pot with the orzo. The rack can be a little challenging to deal with when it is hot, so make sure to use tongs or another utensil that can grip the (too small) handle in the middle of the rack. Then, simply tilt the rack and let the veggies fall into the pot.
Stir the vegetables into the orzo.
Finishing the Lemon Orzo with Shrimp
Add in the thawed, peeled, and drained shrimp along with the spinach and grated parmesan cheese. It makes no difference what order they are added.
Stir really well and try to get the shrimp under the orzo as much as possible because it will cook from the residual heat in the pot and under the orzo is hotter than on top.
Close the lid and let it sit for about 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, check the doneness of the shrimp. You can take an internal temp if you like and it should read 145℉/62℃ or you can go by looks which is what I do. The shrimp is fully cooked when it is slightly curled and the area where the vein has been removed is opaque in color. You will also see pops of light red or orange color.
A perfectly cooked shrimp should have a slight snap to it when you bite into it, but be tender and delicious.
Taste the orzo for seasonings and add more salt and pepper, if needed. If you like a bit of spice, add in some red pepper flakes.
Garnishing Lemon Orzo Pasta
There really isn't any need to garnish the dish, it's beautiful just as it is. However, I did find that adding the fresh basil leaves (either whole or torn) gave a nice vibrant, and slightly peppery flavor to the finished dish, which I love.
I also like to include some extra lemon slices as a garnish and for people to squeeze over their plates if they want a little more lemon flavor.
It's certainly a beautiful dish and one to proudly serve to your friends and family.
How to Make Lemon Orzo with Shrimp and Vegetables Using Different Cooking Methods
It is not necessary to have the Ninja Speedi to make this recipe, in fact, any recipe can be made using many different cooking appliances and methods and still have fantastic results.
The important thing to keep in mind when adapting a recipe to different cooking methods is the best way to cook the various ingredients. Here are some suggestions for making this recipe using various appliances and methods.
Ninja Foodi Pressure Cooker & Air Crisper OL Series with Smart Lid
Use the steam/crisp function and put the vegetables on a plate on the rack in the high position. Reduce the time to 8 minutes and make sure to check on the vegetables and pasta after 6 minutes of the countdown.
All other instructions remain the same.
Ninja Foodi Pressure Cooker & Air Crisper 2 Lid Models
I would use a combination of steam and air crisp to make this recipe. Start off by following the same instructions and put the liquid ingredients, garlic cloves, and orzo in the bottom of the inner pot.
Place the rack in the high position and either make the veggies large enough that they don't fall through the slots in the rack or line the rack with aluminum foil and poke some holes in it.
Put the veggies on the rack and put on the pressure lid. Turn the valve to VENT and set the steam function to 1 minute. When the steaming is done, remove the pressure lid and quickly close the crisping lid. You want to keep as much steam in the pot as possible to finish cooking the orzo.
Select air crisp or air fry on 400℉/200℃ and air crip/air fry for 8-10 minutes or until the veggies are roasted. Continue with the recipe as directed in the instructions below.
Stove Top and Oven
This recipe is easy to convert to the oven and stove top and isn't going to take long at all.
Preheat the oven to 400℉/200℃. Place the cut-up vegetables on a sheet tray and drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast the vegetables in the oven for about 15 minutes or until they are your desired tenderness and have a roasted appearance.
While the vegetables are roasting in the oven, add the vegetable broth, butter, garlic, and orzo to a large pot on the stove. Bring the liquid to a boil over high heat and boil for about 2-3 minutes. Turn the heat off and cover the pot. Let sit for about 5 minutes or so to give the orzo time to cook. It should be just al dente.
Add the vegetables, thawed shrimp, parmesan cheese and spinach to the pot. Stir well, cover and let sit for 5 minutes or until the shrimp is fully cooked and the spinach has wilted.
No matter how you make this recipe, everyone is going to love it! Serve & Enjoy!
Frequently Asked Questions
Technically, you can freeze any leftovers. It's more a question of the quality of the dish after freezing.
Personally, this is not a recipe that I would freeze to reheat as the same dish. I feel like the pasta will become too soft and the vegetables will give off liquid when reheating, thereby making the dish watery.
I would freeze the leftovers to make soup out of. Just by adding some extra broth and seasonings, you can make a delicious lemon orzo soup!
You can absolutely cut the recipe in half just by cutting the ingredients in half and keeping the time and temperature the same.
It might be a little challenging to double the recipe in the Ninja Speedi, but it can probably be done with a few modifications. I would double all of the ingredients and decrease the time to 8 minutes.
More One-Pot Meal Recipes
One-Pot Meals is what the Speedi is all about, so I hope you get some inspiration from these quick and easy one-pot meal recipes!
- Garlic Parmesan Chicken Pasta
- Cheeseburger Soup (Ninja Foodi or Stovetop)
- Cheeseburger Macaroni ~ One-Pot Dinner
- Mediterranean Quinoa with Vegetables in the Ninja Foodi
- Southwestern Goulash with a Cornbread Topping
- One-Pot Sausage Peppers & Pasta ~ Pressure Cooker Recipe
- Cheesy Shrimp and Grits in the Ninja Foodi or Instant Pot
- Cabbage & Sausage Soup (Ninja Foodi or Instant Pot)
Lemon Orzo with Shrimp & Roasted Vegetables Recipe
- 2 cups Vegetable Broth
- 2 Tablespoons butter salted or unsalted
- 1 large lemon Zested & Juiced
- 1 bulb garlic about 8 cloves
- 1 cup uncooked orzo pasta 6 ounces dry pasta
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes
- ½ large sweet onion about 1 cup chopped into 1" pieces
- 6 mini sweet peppers or 1 red bell pepper
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- ½ teaspoon fine grind sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 8 ounces small shrimp #60-80 (number per pound)
- 4 cups baby spinach
- 2 ounces parmesan cheese
- fresh basil for garnish
- lemon for garnish
Prep for Recipe
- Thaw and peel the shrimp if they have shells on them. I get the small shrimp that are already peeled and deveined for this recipe.
- Peel garlic cloves. Cut cherry tomatoes in half. Grate parmesan cheese. Slice mini peppers into rounds or slice bell pepper into strips. Cut the onion into strips and cut the strips in half or in thirds. Zest and juice the lemon.1 large lemon, 1 bulb garlic, 1 cup cherry tomatoes, ½ large sweet onion, 6 mini sweet peppers
Setting up the Ninja Speedi
- Place the inner pot into the NInja Speedi. Pour in the vegetable broth. Add the garlic coves and butter.2 cups Vegetable Broth, 2 Tablespoons butter, 1 bulb garlic
- Just before you are ready to start cooking, add in the orzo and stir it so it is under the liquid.1 cup uncooked orzo pasta
- Place the rack on the top level of the Ninja Speedi. Spread out the vegetables on the rack and drizzle with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.1 cup cherry tomatoes, ½ large sweet onion, 6 mini sweet peppers, 1 Tablespoon olive oil, ½ teaspoon fine grind sea salt, ¼ teaspoon black pepper
Cooking in the Ninja Speedi
- Close the lid and turn the lever up to rapid cook. Select the steam and crisp function. Set the temperature to 400℉/200℃ and the time for 10 minutes. Press start.
- Don't open the lid until the countdown has at least reached 5 minutes into the cooking time. I recommend checking on the vegetables when there are 2 minutes left and you can stop the cooking cycle anytime after that. I like to go the whole 10 minutes so my vegetables have a nice char, but if you want less char on them then stop the cycle after 8 minutes.
- Once the cooking cycle is done open the lid and take some tongs and grab the small handle in the middle of the rack. Tilt the rack over to dump the veggies into the pot. Remove the rack and stir the orzo and vegetables.
- Add in the shredded parmesan, shrimp, and baby spinach and stir. Try to get the shrimp under the orzo pasta as much as possible so they cook.
- Turn the Speedi off and close the lid. Wait 5 minutes for the shrimp to cook using the residual heat of the pasta. Taste the orzo and season with salt and pepper if needed.
- Scoop into a serving bowl and garnish with fresh basil and lemon slices. Serve & Enjoy!
ABOUT THE RECIPE AUTHOR, LOUISE LONG
Louise is a full-time recipe creator and food blogger @ The Salted Pepper. She has over 30 years of experience with cooking and recipe development. She owned a restaurant for several years and was a full-time RN until retiring to blog full-time.
She published her first cookbook in the Fall of 2018 and is very interested in writing several more.
Louise is also the creator of an online Ninja Foodi Pressure Cooking Course with over 100 instructional step-by-step videos. People absolutely rave about the course and all the value they have received from it.
Louise has several very active Facebook groups that help people with the basics of cooking and getting the most out of the Ninja Foodi.
Louise is also a YouTube creator and you can find most of her recipes in video format on The Salted Pepper YouTube channel.
She is very responsive to messages and eager to help in any way she can. Get more Information about Louise & contact information
I WOULD LOVE TO SEE WHAT YOU ARE COOKING UP IN YOUR KITCHEN! TAG ME @THESALTEDPEPPER ON YOUR FAVORITE SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORM WHEN YOU MAKE A DISH!
BE SURE TO FOLLOW THE SALTED PEPPER RIGHT HERE ⇓⇓⇓⇓⇓
I made this dish on the stove since I do not have the Ninja Foodi and absolutely LOVED it! I did freeze the leftovers and just had some for dinner last night and it was almost as good as the first day. I love all your recipes and your website with my sisters and friends.
I'm so glad that you enjoyed it!