Baked Shrimp Oreganata with Feta

While in college, I studied abroad in Greece for a summer and fell deeply in love with everything about the country. I loved the language, the architecture, the incredible history, the food, the bustling marketplaces, the winding streets, the friendly street vendors, the gorgeous countryside...oh, I could go on. With the cool weather settling in (it's supposed to be outright cold in DC this week!), I've found myself daydreaming of days lounging on the beach in Nafplion (a gorgeous seaport town where we escaped the hustle and bustle of Athens), soaking up the warm Mediterranean sun. So I suppose it comes as no surprise that I'm finding myself drawn to the clean, yet complex flavors of Greece in the kitchen recently.

Last night, we had outstanding Greek-spiced lamb burgers from Whole Food. We bought them pre-made, but Whole Foods has the recipe on its site if you are interested in making them from scratch.

Tonight, we are planning a scrumptious meal of Baked Shrimp Oreganata with Feta over couscous. This Greece-inspired dish marries the sweet earthiness of oregano with a taste of the ocean (shrimp), brightened by tomatoes and lemon and tempered with creamy feta. Think of it as comfort food with a Mediterranean flair.

This recipe adapts well to various flavor profiles. For example, substituting fresh basil for the oregano, cinnamon, and allspice and fresh mozzarella for the feta would take the dish in more of an Italian direction, perfect over some al dente linguine. I've seen some variations on this dish, but this is how I like to make it. Serve over couscous, rice, or pasta, with a simple Greek salad on the side (just cube some tomato, cucumber, green bell pepper, red onion, feta, and toss with kalamata olives and a dressing of olive oil, salt, pepper, and oregano).

Baked Shrimp Oreganata with Feta (Serves 4)
1 medium white onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon fresh oregano
1 (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes in juice, drained and chopped (the San Marzano brand would work well)
Pinch of sugar
1 pound large peeled and deveined raw shrimp
1 cup crumbled feta
1 tablespoon chopped dill (or parsley if you prefer)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375°F. Cook onion and garlic in olive oil with 1/4 teaspoon salt in a saucepan over medium heat until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in spices and cook for an additional 30 seconds while stirring. Add chopped tomatoes with sugar and simmer, stirring occasionally, until somewhat thickened, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat. Season shrimp with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, then stir into tomato sauce along with the lemon juice. Transfer to a baking dish and top with crumbled feta. Bake until just cooked through, 18 to 20 minutes. Serve sprinkled with dill or parsley.

Image via Epicurious.

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