Shrimp is far and away the popular seafood in the country and has been for at least the last 10 years. Nothing comes remotely close to per capita shrimp consumption which hit 3.6 lbs. last year. Just for comparison, salmon catapulted to the second position beating canned tuna for the first time ever in 2013. But it’s an also-ran with Americans eating fully a pound less of salmon than they do of shrimp. Needless to say, I am a shrimp aficionado. It is so easy to keep a bag of frozen shrimp in the freezer. They defrost in no time and like almost all seafood, they cook in record time. So when I came across this Ina Garten recipe from her 2010 cookbook “How Easy is That?” (Clarkson Potter), I had to try it. The results were nothing short of remarkable.
Ina Garten’s Roasted Shrimp with Feta
First of all, this is a one skillet wonder that comes together in just over a half hour. Ina suggests making it early in the day and then popping it in the oven for the final 15 minutes of baking time. Secondly, if you are not familiar with any Greek food other than baklava, you can introduce your family and friends to this combination of Greek flavor. Tomatoes, garlic, oregano and Feta cheese all meld together without hiding the taste of the shrimp themselves. Ina calls for Pernod, the anise flavored liqueur that will always remind me of the south of France. It just so happened, I had a small quantity of Ouzo. Ouzo is about as Greek as Aristotle. After a pure white alcohol has been distilled, it is then infused with herbs: aniseed, licorice, mint, wintergreen, fennel and hazelnut. As you can see, three of these ingredients add to its anise flavor. And as you can see, the other ingredient boosting that flavor is Fennel itself. A loaf of crusty bread lets everyone soak up every drop of the delicious sauce.
Recipe for Ina Garten’s Roasted Shrimp With Feta
Copyright 2010, Barefoot Contessa How Easy is That? by Ina Garten, Clarkson Potter/Publishers, All Rights Reserved
Serves 4. Takes about 35 minutes to make.
4 tablespoons good olive oil, divided
1½ cups medium-diced fennel
1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)
¼ cup dry white wine
1 (14½-ounce) can diced tomatoes
2 teaspoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon Pernod or Ouzo
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1¼ pounds (16 to 20 per pound) peeled shrimp with tails on
5 ounces good feta cheese, coarsely crumbled
1 cup fresh bread crumbs
3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
1. Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a 10- or 12-inch heavy ovenproof skillet over medium-low heat. Add the fennel and sauté for 8 to 10 minutes, until the fennel is tender. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the wine and bring to a boil, scraping up any browned bits. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until the liquid is reduced by half.
2. Add the tomatoes with the liquid, tomato paste, oregano, Pernod or Ouzo, salt, and pepper to the skillet. Simmer over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, for 10 to 15 minutes.
3. Arrange the shrimp, tails up, in one layer over the tomato -mixture in the skillet. Scatter the feta evenly over the shrimp.
4. In a small bowl, combine the bread crumbs, parsley, and lemon zest with the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil and sprinkle over the shrimp.
5. Bake for 15 minutes, until the shrimp are cooked and the bread crumbs are golden brown. Squeeze the juice of 1 lemon over the shrimp. Serve hot with the remaining lemon cut into wedges.