Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The best smell in the world

Is there anything better than walking into a house and smelling something delicious cooking? It may sound a little June Cleaver-y, but I feel all warm and fuzzy inside when my husband, my girls, or a guest walks into my kitchen and says "Something smells great in here!"

Plenty of foods can inspire that sentiment...cookies in the oven...pasta sauce bubbling on the stove. But of all of the food scents out there, nothing does it for me like the smell of garlic, olive oil, and white wine simmering together. It transports me to my happy place, where I'm sitting on a lovely deck overlooking Napa Valley vineyards, a cool glass of chardonnay in hand, reading a cooking magazine while soft jazz plays in the background.

Any time I see a recipe that involves simmering garlic in white wine, I know it's going to be a winner. And when you throw in some shrimp, tomatoes, lemon zest, and fresh parsley, it would be pretty impossible to go wrong.

This recipe was largely inspired by Ina Garten's "Roasted shrimp with feta," but since I omitted quite a few things, and adjusted the presentation, I thought I'd rewrite my version of the recipe here. I went for a simpler approach, eliminating things like Pernod (who has Pernod on hand?) and fennel, and forgoing the breadcrumb topping in favor of serving the dish alongside my favorite thing in the world: crusty bread.

"Roasted shrimp with feta" (or, as I like to call it: "Roasted shrimp in garlic, tomato and white wine broth") Recipe semi-stolen from Ina Garten.


Several tbsps of good olive oil
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 can diced tomatoes (or use fresh)
2 tsp tomato paste
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 lbs shrimp (peeled and deveined, with tails on)
5 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
2 tbsp minced Italian parsley
2 lemons (plus the zest from one of them)


Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet that can be safely transferred to the oven. Add the garlic and saute over medium-low heat for one minute. Add the wine and bring to a boil. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until the liquid is reduced. Add the tomatoes with liquid, tomato paste, and oregano. Add salt & pepper to taste. Simmer over medium-low heat for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Arrange the shrimp, tails up, in one layer over the tomato mixture in the skillet.* Scatter the feta evenly on top. In a small bowl, combine the lemon zest and parsley with 2 tbsp of olive oil. Sprinkle over the shrimp. Bake for 15 minutes, until the shrimp are opaque and tender. Remove from oven and sprinkle the juice of one lemon on top.

*I have to admit that I struggled with the whole "arranging the shrimp artfully" thing. My shrimp didn't really stand up in the pan...they kind of just fell over on top of one another. So when I removed the dish from the oven, I ended up dumping everything into a big bowl and serving it like that. I actually think it came out kind of better that way, since we could just dish the shrimp and tomato mixture into individual bowls, and then sop up the juices with that crusty bread I was talking about earlier.

Next time I make this, I might leave out the oven altogether, and just saute the shrimp right in the pan. I think the only real reason to bake it was to brown the breadcrumbs, but since the breadcrumbs are excluded in my version, the oven is probably unnecessary.

No matter how you end up cooking the shrimp, you can't really go wrong with this recipe. It's great for  entertaining, and--like so many of my favorite recipes--it can work as either an appetizer or a light dinner. It could also be served over pasta if you're looking for a heftier meal. And it would work perfectly fine without the feta, if you don't feel like buying it, or want to go dairy-free.


  1. Hmmmmmmmm.......sounds so good!!

  2. Okay, forgot I made this comment and told your mother I missed this post.....HAH! She made it last night and it was delicious and pointed out to me I did read the post and make a comment....sign of old age, I forgot!!!! Anyways, will be making this dish very soon.