In the traditional Greek dish called shrimp saganaki, sweet, briny shrimp are covered with a garlic- and herb-accented tomato sauce and topped with crumbles of creamy, salty feta cheese.
Restaurant versions, however, can be a gamble. The shrimp can be tough and rubbery, the tomato sauce can turn out dull or overwhelming, and the feta is often lackluster. We set out to develop a foolproof recipe for home cooks.
Canned diced tomatoes along with sauteed onion and garlic provided the base for the sauce. Dry white wine added acidity, and ouzo, the slightly sweet anise-flavored Greek liqueur, added welcome complexity.
While the shrimp are typically layered with the tomato sauce and feta and baked, we were after a quick and easy dish. We opted to cook the shrimp right in the sauce; adding the shrimp raw to the sauce helped infuse them with the sauce's bright flavor.
And for even more flavor, we first marinated the shrimp with olive oil, ouzo, garlic, and lemon zest while we made the sauce. A generous sprinkling of feta and chopped fresh dill over the sauced shrimp finished our recipe.
The cooking time is for extra-large shrimp (about 21 to 25 per pound). If using smaller or larger shrimp, be sure to adjust the cooking time as needed. If you don't have ouzo, you can substitute an equal amount of Pernod or 1 tablespoon vodka plus 1/8 teaspoon anise seeds.
GREEK-STYLE SHRIMP WITH TOMATOES AND FETA
Start to finish: 45 minutes
1 1/2 pounds extra-large shrimp (21 to 25 per pound), peeled and deveined
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons ouzo
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
Salt and pepper
1 small onion, chopped
1 red or green bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and chopped
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained with 1/3 cup juice reserved
1/4 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh parsley
6 ounces feta cheese, crumbled (1 1/2 cups)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
Toss shrimp in bowl with 1 tablespoon oil, 1 tablespoon ouzo, 1 teaspoon garlic, lemon zest, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper; set aside.
Heat 2 tablespoons oil in 12-inch skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion, bell pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon salt, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables release their liquid, 3 to 5 minutes. Uncover and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid evaporates and vegetables are softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in remaining garlic and pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
Stir in tomatoes and reserved juice, wine, and remaining 2 tablespoons ouzo. Bring to simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until flavors meld and sauce is slightly thickened (sauce should not be completely dry), 5 to 8 minutes. Stir in parsley and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Reduce heat to medium-low and add shrimp along with any accumulated juices; stir to coat and distribute evenly. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until shrimp are opaque throughout, 6 to 9 minutes, adjusting heat as needed to maintain bare simmer. Off heat, sprinkle with feta and dill and drizzle with remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Serve.