This is my version of an Ina Garten (Barefoot Contessa) recipe. I say quite literally that watching her show on Food Network and cooking from her books has increased the quality of my food dramatically. You can tell she tests her recipes A LOT and they do work. Ina has two or three genius recipes where you bake shrimp with different flavors and just eat the dish with bread. Another one is “Baked Shrimp Scampi.” It’s so much more fun when you’re preparing a casual dinner to not even have to worry about making pasta. Just make a great saucy dish and serve it with bread. Here’s another great one that follows this playbook.
4 tablespoons good olive oil, divided
1 ½ cups medium-diced fennel
1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)
¼ cup dry white wine
1 (14 ½-ounce) can diced tomatoes
2 teaspoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 ¼ pounds (16 to 20 per pound) peeled shrimp with tails on
5 ounces good feta cheese, coarsely crumbled
1 cup panko bread crumbs
3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
Basil leaves, torn
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a 10-or 12-inch heavy ovenproof
skillet over medium-low heat. Add the fennel and saute for 8 to 10 minutes, until the fennel is tender and a bit browned. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the wine and bring to a boil, scraping up any browned bits. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until the liquid is reduced by half. Add the tomatoes with the liquid, tomato paste, oregano, Pernod, salt, and pepper to the skillet. Simmer over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, for 10 to 15 minutes.
Arrange the shrimp, tails up, in one layer over the tomato-mixture in the
skillet. Scatter the feta evenly over the shrimp. In a small bowl, combine the bread crumbs, parsley, and lemon zest with the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil and sprinkle over the shrimp.
Bake for 10 minutes, until the shrimp are cooked and the bread crumbs are golden brown.
Squeeze the juice of 1 lemon over the shrimp. Tear basil leaves by hand and scatter on top.
Serve hot with crusty bread and a lemon wedge.