Greek Shrimp with Tomatoes and Feta

Last week on a hot summer’s day I was browsing for a fresh salad-type dinner and found this Greek Shrimp with Tomatoes and Feta. It called for Ouzo, which I confused with Orzo (the rice-shaped pasta), but which is in fact an anise-flavored Greek liquor. Fortunately I noticed the difference while still in the grocery store, and bough Anise-extract to use in my substitution.  At dinner time, I was very surprised that it was served piping hot; more like a stew than a salad. I sweated all through dinner.  I was good, but not great.  Perhaps because my expectations were for cool and refreshing I could only give it 3-1/2 stars.

Almost stew-like was the wrong call for the dog days of summer.

Issues:

  1. First I used smaller shrimp than called for in the recipe. Larger shrimp come at a huge premium, and my little shrimp only cost $5/lb.
  2. I didn’t want to buy a whole bottle of Greek Anise Liquor, so I substituted 1 teaspoon of Anise-extract for every 1 tablespoon of Ouzo.
  3. Instead of using two pepper halves of different colors, I used a single green pepper. Certainly the multicolored presentation was one of the things that drew me to this recipe, but I ultimately chose to keep the clutter down in my already overstuffed refrigerator.

P.S. A roving crew from southern New Jersey repaired my power line last night, so I finally have refrigerator just in time for the long weekend. The hardest part of cooking during the post-Irene blackout was my lack of ingredients, because all my “refrigerate after opening” ingredients were in neighbors’ refrigerators.

Rating: 3-1/2 stars.
Cost: $15.
How much work? Medium.
How big of a mess?  Medium
Start time 5:00 PM. Dinnertime: 7:00 PM.

Chris Kimball’s original recipe is here (requires an e-mail address, but no credit card). My descriptions of how I prepare it today are given below:

1-1/2 pounds shrimp
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons ouzo
5 medium garlic cloves
1 teaspoon grated zest
Table salt and ground black pepper
1 small onion
1/2 medium red bell pepper
1/2 medium green bell pepper
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
28-ounce can diced tomato
1/4 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh parsley leaves
6 ounces feta cheese ,
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill leaves

  1. Peeled and deveine the shrimp, then peel garlic cloves so that they are ready to press.
  2. Add prepared shrimp, 1 tablespoon oil, 1 tablespoon ouzo, lemon zest, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon black pepper to a small glass bowl. Press 1 garlic clove directly into the bowl. Gentry mix to combine, then set aside while preparing the sauce.
  3. Dice a medium onion which should yield about 3/4 of a cup. Remove the stems and seeds from the peppers and cut into a medium dice. Drain the canned tomatoes, reserving 1/3 cup of the juices.
  4. Preheat a 12″ regular skillet over medium heat, then add 2 tablespoons olive oil for 3 minutes until shimmering. Add diced onion and peppers, and sprinkle 1/4 teaspoon salt. Stir well, then cover and cook for 4 minutes. Stir occasionally and will be ready when the vegetables have released their moisture.
  5. Continue to cook, uncovered, for 5 minutes more. Stir occasionally and will be ready when the moisture has cooked off and the vegetables have softened.
  6. Press remaining 4 garlic cloves directly into skillet; add red pepper flakes; and cook for 1 minute.
  7. Add drained tomatoes, 1/3 cup tomato juice, 1/4 cup white wine, and the final 2 tablespoons ouzo. Turn up to medium-high heat until simmering, then reduce heat slightly to medium heat. Continue simmering for 7 minutes. Stir occasionally. It will be ready when the sauce has thickened slightly (but is not completely dry).
  8. Add chopped parsley, and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  9. Reduce heat again to medium-low and add shrimp and accumulated juices back to the skillet. Stir to combine, then cook, covered for 6 to 9 minutes until the shrimp are cooked, stirring occasionally. If you are using extra-large shrimp you may need to cook for 7 to 11 minutes. If the simmer becomes too vigorous, reduce heat to maintain a bare simmer. Meanwhile crumble your feta, which should yield about 1-1/2 cups.
  10. Remove pan from heat and sprinkle evenly with feta. Drizzle remaining tablespoon oil evenly over top and sprinkle with dill. Serve immediately.
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