Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Spicy Shrimp and Peppers with Orzo

A recipe conversion. Serves 4.

This was one of my first attempts at converting a former favorite recipe to low salt back in June, and I really made a mess of it. My first try was way too spicy, with an amateur idea to have heat replace the salt. It didn't work. The dish just tasted hot as hell, with no other discernible flavor to redeem it, and we couldn't even taste the shrimp. And it still tasted like it needed salt. Total fail!

This version was savory, shrimpy tasting, not overly spicy, and best of all did not seem lacking in salt (at least not to my altered taste buds). If you are not on a sodium restriction, this would be great as is but with some salt shaken onto your plate just before you eat it. That was all Marty needed to enjoy his portion and just about lick his plate clean. I was OK with some freshly ground pepper and Mrs. Dash lemon pepper seasoning on my plate.


8 oz orzo, cooked and drained (we cooked ours without salt in Wyler's no sodium chicken flavored instant broth for added flavor) - this can be cooked concurrently with the shrimp dish and will be ready together.
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
3 T white wine
2 T low sodium organic chicken broth
4 T olive oil
1/4 t salt
1 t crushed red pepper flakes
1 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 red, orange, or yellow bell pepper, cut into 1/2" squares
1 vidalia onion, diced
1 t cornstarch
1 lemon, cut in half


1. Combine garlic, wine, broth, 3 T olive oil, salt and red pepper flakes in a medium bowl and blend with a whisk. Add shrimp and toss to coat. Set aside to marinate at least five minutes.

2. Pour 1 T olive oil into a skillet and heat over medium high flame. Add onion and cook ~2 minutes until translucent. Add peppers and cook 1-2 minutes more, stirring often.

3. Spoon out about 2 T of the liquid marinade and mix with cornstarch in small bowl, set aside. Add the shrimp and remaining marinade to the pan. Cook shrimp, covered, stirring about every minute or so, until opaque pink through and curled, about 2-3 minutes.

4. Uncover and add reserved liquid and cornstarch mixture. Stir to combine. Cook about 1 more minute uncovered, stirring constantly until sauce thickens. Turn off heat. Squeeze in the juice from one lemon (using a strainer to catch seeds) and stir to combine.

5. Serve shrimp and sauce immediately over drained orzo.

Sodium content ~300 mg per serving, mostly from the shrimp. You can reduce this by about half by leaving out the salt altogether, but that 1/4 t really does add a lot to the flavor.

Recipe conversion secrets - not a whole lot really. We greatly reduced the added salt, and made up for it by adding the lemon juice at the end to brighten the flavor. We also increased the amount of garlic and red pepper flakes (but do not consider this a "spicy" recipe by our high standards). Also by cooking the orzo in the Wyler's "fake chicken broth" that has zero sodium we add flavor that would normally come from salted cooking water. If you can't find this product, you could add flavor with unsalted butter in the cooking liquid.


  1. Christie- Caroline Orsillo sent me the link to your blog, and I have enjoyed reading it. I was recently diagnosed with Miniere's and am interested in a low sodium diet. I have hearing loss (sensory- neural) and white noise in that ear 24/7. I have no vertigo or dizziness. The white noise is maddening, of course, and gets worse as noise levels around me rise. I would love to chat more when you have a minute. bmakla@covenantday.org Your recipes look delicious and inspiring. Thanks for blogging!

  2. I had ringing in my ear followed by low frequency hearing loss for more than six months before ever getting vertigo. As long as I keep my sodium consumption very low, I don't have any symptoms at all and my hearing loss completely reversed (that took about 4 months). I consume less than the minimum recommended amount but haven't had any adverse effects from not having sodium in my system (but I may be missing a source somehow). The only symptom that remains is that sense of aural fullness. It is not really bothersome, but is usually present to some degree.

  3. Hey there -

    The symptoms you describe? Me.

    Oh dear.

    Good thing I've been cutting way back on salt and carbs lately. Seems to have kept the symptoms at bay, thought 'aural fullness' is trying keep a stronghold. I combat that with copious amounts of water, and that seems to help if there's a flare-up.

    Looking forward to reading your recipes!

  4. Hi Tiff,

    Good to see you here. I don't always (like hardly ever) drink enough water, so maybe that is why the fullness sensation didn't go away with all the other symptoms.