GREEK SHRIMP WITH TOMATOES AND FETA (for four)
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 shallots, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup dry white vermouth or dry white wine
6 plum tomatoes, chopped, or 1 can (14-1/2 ounces) tomatoes, drained and finely chopped, juice reserved
1 tablespoon dried Greek oregano, crumbled
red pepper flakes
sweet Hungarian paprika to taste
2/3 cup (3 ounces) coarsely crumbled feta cheese, preferably Greek
2 pounds large shrimp, shelled, with tail segments intact, and deveined
½ cup pitted, halved kalamata olives
2 tablespoons minced fresh mint, plus mint sprigs for garnish
- In a large, nonreactive, flameproof casserole or saute pan over medium heat, heat the oil. Add the shallots and saute until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the wine and tomatoes (but not the juice). Add the oregano and season to taste with salt, red pepper flakes and paprika. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring often, until the tomatoes begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add some of the reserved tomato juice if you prefer a thinner sauce.
- Stir in the cheese, then the shrimp and the olives. Cover the pan, reduce the heat to low and cook until the shrimp are evenly pink and the cheese is beginning to melt, about 3 minutes. Sprinkle with the minced mint. Garnish with the mint sprigs and serve at once from the pan. Thick slices of country-style bread are welcome to sop up the juices.
NOTE: If you happen to have a bottle of ouzo at hand, you can add an ouzo flambe. Make the tomato sauce in step 1, then saute the shrimp, sprinkled with salt and pepper, separately in 3 tablespoons olive oil. Remove shrimp from heat, add ½ cup ouzo, and carefully ignite with a match. Return skillet to medium heat and cook until flames subside. Add shrimp to the tomato sauce, stir in the cheese, and finish the recipe as directed above.