Cooking shrimp in the oven has its problems. It is easy to end up with the delicate meat all tight and dried up from the excessive heat, so I always use recipes that protect the shrimp with enough sauce and/or topping. This simple casserole is one of my favorites, adapted from a recipe by Molly Stevens published in a Fine Cooking issue years ago. Fennel, tomato and orange offer a nice base to cook the shrimp, and the layer of bread crumbs on top makes them simply irresistible. Trust me!
SHRIMP AND FENNEL CASSEROLE
(adapted from Molly Steven’s recipe)
4 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil (divided, 2 Tbs + 2 Tbs)
1 medium size fennel bulb, finely diced
1 clove of garlic, minced
1/8 cup Triple Sec (or 1/4 cup dry, white wine)
zest of 1 medium orange
1 14-1/2-oz. can diced tomatoes, with their juices
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/2 cup Panko breadcrumbs
3 Tbs. chopped parsley
1 + 1/2 pounds large shrimp, peeled and deveined
Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 425°F. Heat 2 Tbs. of the olive oil over medium heat. Add the fennel and sauté until slightly softened and lightly browned. Add the garlic and sauté for 1 minute. Add the Triple Sec and orange zest and bring to a boil. Add the tomatoes and their juices, season with salt and pepper, and stir to heat through. Spread the tomato mixture in a baking dish that will hold the shrimp in a single layer.
Prepare the topping by mixing in a small bowl the breadcrumbs, parsley, remaining 2 Tbs olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste. Place the shrimp on the tomato mixture, and sprinkle with the breadcrumb mixture. Bake until the shrimp are cooked through – 12 to 15 minutes.
to print the recipe, click here
Comments: If you want to make this recipe even easier for a weeknight, prepare the tomato/fennel base in advance and simply re-heat it before placing in the oven. It is important that the sauce is already warm when it goes in the oven, that helps coaching the shrimp into cooking evenly and remaining tender and juicy. While you heat the oven, make the topping, and dinner will be ready in less than 20 minutes. A side dish of pasta, rice, or just a hearty piece of bread with a salad will complement it perfectly.
I was hoping for leftovers to take to work the following day, but something went terribly right with this dinner. 😉
ONE YEAR AGO: Tuscan Bread