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Overhead photo of a bowl of pesto orzo topped with artichokes and shrimp.

Pesto Orzo With Lemon, Artichokes & Shrimp

This fresh and easy pesto orzo bowl is made with shrimp, lemon, artichokes, and basil. A delicious, 9-ingredient and 30-minute dinner packed with protein, healthy fats, and fiber-filled veggies! Recipe is dairy-free and can be made gluten-free.
Cuisine Mediterranean
Keyword artichokes, orzo, pesto, shrimp
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 2


Pesto Sauce:

  • 1 cup fresh basil, packed
  • 1/4 cup raw walnuts
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast (or parmesan)
  • 1 large clove garlic
  • 1.5 Tbsp lemon juice (save the zest!)
  • Salt + pepper, to taste


  • Prep shrimp and pat dry with a paper towel. In a small bowl, toss shrimp in olive oil, salt, and pepper. Set aside.
  • Boil a pot of water for the orzo.
  • While water boils, remove zest from 1/2 a lemon and slice artichoke hearts into halves or quarters (depending on size). Set aside.
  • Make pesto by adding basil, walnuts, olive oil, nutritional yeast, garlic, lemon juice, salt, and pepper to a food processor. Blend until smooth. If you want things a little runnier, feel free to add a splash of water or additional olive oil.
  • Once water is boiling, cook orzo according to package directions (about 8 minutes).
  • Meanwhile, heat a large pan over med-high heat. Cook shrimp for 2-minutes per side, until pink and opaque. Remove from heat.
  • Drain orzo and return to pot. Stir in pesto until well-combined.
  • Divide ingredients into bowls: serve orzo and top with sliced artichoke hearts, shrimp, lemon zest, extra basil (if desired), and black pepper. Enjoy hot!


*NOTE: "Nutritional yeast" is not the regular type of yeast used to leaven baked goods. It is yellow in colour, packed with B-vitamins, and has a "cheesy" flavour, often used as a dairy-free alternative to cheese in recipes. Please don't use regular yeast here as it will NOT taste good!!
*LEFTOVERS: Leftovers of this orzo recipe can be kept in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. It reheats really easily in the microwave, without compromising on texture!
  • For a gluten-free option, swap orzo with a gluten-free pasta. Otherwise, you could try this with a gluten-free grain like quinoa, millet, or rice.
  • You can also use different pasta shapes in place of orzo. Pearl couscous would be the most similar in terms of size and texture, but really any pasta would work here!
  • Nutritional yeast can be swapped for parmesan if you eat dairy.
  • Walnuts can be swapped for another nut or seed. I like making pesto with pistachios, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, or (the classic) pine nuts.
  • If you want to add some other veggies in this dish, I think this would taste great with some sautéed broccoli, zucchini, tomatoes, or a handful of fresh leafy greens like arugula!
  • If you'd like, the shrimp could be swapped with another simple protein. I think something like chicken, scallops, salmon, or chickpeas would work well.