Shrimp Yiouvetsi with Greek Saffron and Curry

The Greek recipe yiouvetsi is a baked pasta dish typically made with orzo and lamb. This version has a twist, with shrimp and the delicious combination of Greek saffron and curry, petimezi and Greek oregano.


  • 1/2 cup extra virgin Greek olive oil and more, as needed
  • 2 leeks trimmed and chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves finely chopped, divided
  • 1 generous pinch Greek saffron krokos Kozanis
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1 cup dry white wine divided
  • 3 cups chopped canned tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon wild dried Greek oregano
  • 1 tablespoon petimezi
  • ½ pound orzo
  • Sea salt to taste
  • Black pepper to taste
  • 1 pound medium shrimp tails on, deveined
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
  • ½ cup grated Greek kefalotyri kefalograviera or Romano cheese


  1. In a large wide pot or deep skillet, over medium heat, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil and cook the leeks and half the garlic, stirring frequently, until soft, about 8 minutes. Stir in the saffron and curry. Pour in half the white wine and bring to a simmer, then add the tomatoes and petimezi. Season with salt and pepper and simmer, partially covered, for 30 minutes, or until the sauce thickens slightly.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350F/170C.
  3. Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil, add a generous amount of sea salt, and cook the orzo until al dente, according to package instructions.
  4. While the orzo is cooking, prepare the shrimp: Heat 2 more tablespoons of olive oil in a separate skillet and soften the garlic. Then add the shrimp and cook until bright pink, stirring. Pour in the wine and as soon as it steams up, remove the pan from heat.
  5. Drain the orzo, reserving 2 cups of its cooking liquid.
  6. Combine the orzo and tomato sauce in an ovenproof glass or ceramic baking dish. Pour in enough of the pasta cooking liquid as needed to keep the mixture moist, with about a half inch exceeding the surface of the pasta. Stir in the remaining olive oil. Bake uncovered for about 25 – 30 minutes, or until most of the liquid has been absorbed. Ten minutes before removing from oven, stir in the shrimp and pan juices.
  7. Remove, stir in the parsley and garnish with grated cheese before serving.

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