The cooking time for this dish will depend on the size of your shrimp. When buying the shrimp the size is called a “count” – the number of shrimp in a pound. I used a 35 – 45 count frozen shrimp or prawns as the larger shrimp are sometimes called. Shrimp are cooked as soon as they turn from translucent to pink. Although I really prefer the flavour and texture of using raw shrimp in this recipe, you could use cooked shrimp for this recipe – bake the sauce until very hot and bubbly and then stir the cooked shrimp in and bake only a few minutes longer to heat the shrimp. Shrimp that are overcooked become quite tough and chewy – not good.
Do not thaw the shrimp before you are ready to make this dish. A quick soak in tepid water thaws them very quickly and if left uncooked for too long after they are thawed the flavour deteriorates. Frozen shrimp come peeled and unpeeled. The unpeeled ones are usually split along the back and very easy to peel even when just partially thawed. A good job for the kids.
The spices in the sauce make it very “Greek” tasting. If you are not sure about the spices, add half the amounts first, taste and then add the rest if you like. Fresh dill makes this dish – if you can’t find it you can use dill weed. Do make sure that the dill weed smells like dill and has a distinct dill taste. Dill weed can get too old and lose its flavour easily. If you don’t like dill, you could use chopped fresh parsley and still have a delicious dish.
Kalamata olives taste better if you buy the unpitted ones and pit them yourself. This is easily done by pressing the flat side of a knife on the olive. The olive breaks in half and the pit is easily removed. Since you don’t need to use a sharp knife kids can do this job.
A note re feta cheese: I discovered that I could freeze feta cheese. Sometimes I don’t have an immediate use for the leftover feta so I decided to try freezing it – whole and in the liquid. It worked. The cheese was fine – maybe a little softer but it still crumbled beautifully and tasted exactly the same as before freezing.
Greek Spiced Baked Shrimp
3 – 4 tbsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
½ tsp. salt
½ – 1 tsp. hot red pepper flakes
1 tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. allspice – don’t leave out!!
1 – 28 oz. can diced tomatoes, undrained (pureed if you prefer)
½ cup pitted kalamata olives
1 – 2 tsp. brown sugar – add 1 then taste, etc.
1 lb. bag frozen shrimp/prawns (uncooked), peeled and deveined – thaw slightly by
rinsing with tepid water –makes them easy to peel
½ lb. feta, crumbled into chunks
¼ cup chopped fresh dill plus more for garnish
In large sauté or frying pan, cook onion in olive oil over medium to medium high heat until onion is softened but not browned. Add garlic and spices and cook about 1 minute. Add diced tomatoes with juice, olives, and brown sugar. Simmer uncovered, for about 20 minutes to reduce liquid and blend flavours. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper to taste – keep in mind that the feta will also be salty.
In 2 quart glass or ceramic shallow baking dish place prawns in single layer. Pour hot tomato sauce over, sprinkle with feta and dill. Bake at 350 F until just cooked through, 18 to 20 minutes. Serve sprinkled with more dill.
May be served as is with bread, over rice or tossed with linguini or other pasta.
Note: You may use already cooked prawns BUT reduce time in oven to just long enough to heat prawns through or they become tough. I really prefer the flavor and texture of using raw shrimp/prawns.
Adapted from: Greek-Spiced Baked Shrimp – Epicurious