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!

(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

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When Jacques Pepin speaks, I listen.  His book “Fast Food My Way” is a permanent fixture in my kitchen, just because I often cook from it on weeknights.  His simple dish, “Little Shrimp Casserole” only takes 30 minutes to prepare, and you’ll will be delighted by the moist tenderness of the shrimp,  which are baked hidden beneath a layer of bread crumbs.

(adapted from Pepin’s Fast Food My Way)

4 Tbs unsalted butter, melted
2 tsp chopped garlic
1/4 cup minced chives
1/2 cup coarsely chopped mushrooms
salt and black pepper
2 Tbs canola oil, divided
1 pound large shrimp (about 24), shelled and deveined (brined if previously frozen)
1 cup panko bread crumbs
1/4 cup vermouth

Mix the melted butter with the garlic, chives, mushrooms, salt and pepper in a large bowl.  Add the shrimp and one tablespoon of canola oil;  mix well.   Transfer the mixture to a shallow baking dish (or make 4 individual servings).

In another bowl, toss the panko crumbs with the remaining tablespoon of oil, but make sure that they remain fluffy and don’t stick together. Sprinkle the crumbs all over the casserole, pour the vermouth on top and bake in a 425F oven for 10-15 minutes, or until the top is well browned and the shrimp are fully cooked.


to print the recipe, click here

Comments: When using frozen shrimp, I like to quickly brine them to plump them up. You can see my method in this previous post. If you have access to fresh shrimp, then skip it. Whatever you do, make sure to thoroughly dry the shrimp on paper or a kitchen towel before assembling the dish.  Jacques uses white wine in his recipe, but I substituted vermouth because I like the way it complements seafood.

You can assemble the casserole a few hours beforehand, keeping it refrigerated until baking time.

ONE YEAR AGO:  Avocado Three Ways

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