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Greek Shrimp with Tomatoes and Feta Cheese

Feta cheese, a white, crumbly sheeps or cows milk cheese that is pickled in brine, is made in many countries, including the United States and France, but many feta lovers are especially loyal to the original Greek and Bulgarian feta. The flavors and textures of fetas vary somewhat; Bulgarian feta is usually creamier and less salty than Greek feta. Both melt beautifully. Seek out dried Greek oregano to use in recipes with your feta; it has a more intense flavor than regular oregano

Ingredients:

  • 4 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup dry white vermouth or wine
  • 6 plum tomatoes, chopped and juices reserved,
      or 1 can (14 1/2 oz.) tomatoes, drained and
      finely chopped, juices reserved
  • 1 Tbs. dried Greek oregano, crumbled, or 2 Tbs.
      minced fresh oregano
  • Sea salt, to taste
  • Red pepper flakes, to taste
  • Sweet Hungarian paprika, to taste
  • 2/3 cup coarsely crumbled feta cheese,
      preferably Greek or Bulgarian
  • 2 lb. large shrimp, peeled, with tail
      segments intact, and deveined
  • 2 Tbs. minced fresh mint, plus mint sprigs for
      garnish (optional)

Directions:

In a large, nonreactive, flameproof casserole or sauté pan over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the shallots and sauté until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the wine and tomatoes (but not their juices). Add the oregano now, if using dried. Season with salt, red pepper flakes and paprika. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil, 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 juices if you prefer a thinner sauce.

Stir in the cheese, then the shrimp. 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 oregano, if using fresh, and the minced mint. Garnish with the mint sprigs and serve immediately from the pan. Serves 4.

Serving Tip: Serve with thick slices of French or Italian country-style bread for sopping up the juices.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Collection Series, Seafood, by Carolyn Miller (Simon & Schuster, 2005).