I’m constantly looking for dishes that I can cook well and feel comfortable or confident serving guests. I have no shame in admitting that I am a perfectionist but because of that I am terrified of serving people something that didn’t quite turn out. I’m currently working on figuring out what I am going to cook for my family on our upcoming beach trip in May (yep, prepping a bit early, I know…) and this recipe is one of the contenders. It is so, so, hard to mess this one up and it is even harder not to enjoy it. Anything with feta wins in my book. And the subtle anise-like flavor of the fennel works really well with the acidity of the tomato. The dish can be served right out of the skillet as an appetizer with some crusty Italian bread or even as an entrée over pasta.
1 1/4 pound shrimp (do yourself a favor – peeled, deveined shrimp with tails on)
1 1/2 cups diced fennel
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes
2 teaspoons tomato paste
5 ounces crumbled feta
1 cup bread crumbs
3 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced
1 teaspoon lemon zest, grated
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Recipe adapted from Ina Garten
First, preheat the oven to 400°F. Heat roughly 2 tablespoons of olive oil in large ovenproof skillet over medium-low heat. Saute the fennel in the skillet until tender, about 10 minutes. Throw in the garlic and cook for just 1 minute. Then, pour in the wine and let it come to a boil. Cook the mixture for about 2 to 3 minutes, letting the liquid reduce by half. Next, add in the diced tomatoes, tomato paste, oregano, salt, and pepper. Simmer for 15 minutes or so, stirring every now and then.
While this is going on, you can prepare the bread crumbs. Combine the bread crumbs, parsley, and lemon zest in a bowl with the about 2 tablespoons of olive oil and set aside. It’s sort of like a bread crumb gremolata, but I believe to be a legit gremolata there must also be garlic involved. But, since garlic is already in the skillet, no need to double it!
The oven should be ready to go at this point, so arrange the shrimp in the skillet, tails up, on top of the tomato mixture. There should be enough room for one layer of shrimp. Sprinkle the feta evenly over the shrimp and then spoon in the breadcrumb on top of the shrimp mixture as well. Put the skillet in the oven and bake for 15 minutes or until the shrimp will be nice and pink and the breadcrumbs are golden brown. Finally, remove the skillet from the oven and squeeze the juice of 1 lemon over the shrimp. Give the mixture a stir and you’re ready to serve!