This shrimp saganaki bake with feta cheese (garides saganaki) is a traditional Greek appetizer served at every little taverna in Greece. Those who have travelled to Greece know that is hard to pass up this savory appetizer, typically served straight from the skillet it was cooked in with plenty of crusty bread to sop up the delicious tomato sauce.
Saganaki refers to the kind of heavy-bottomed skillet in which this dish is cooked, usually one with two handles for easy carrying. Most people are more familiar with the more common cheese saganaki, the pan-seared melting cheese prepared in the same kind of skillet and then flamed before it arrives, sizzling, to your table.
The preparation of this one-pan Greek appetizer could not be easier: the shrimp are added to the same skillet in which the savory tomato sauce is cooked, it is then topped with crumbled feta cheese and finished in the oven. The balance of flavors of this dish is truly incredible; it is especially enhanced if prepared with fresh, sweet, ripe tomatoes which you can harvest all summer long. If fresh tomatoes are not available, good quality canned ones are an acceptable substitute for year-’round enjoyment of this dish. The one thing that you cannot substitute, however, is the cheese: Greek feta is a must for this dish.
Serve this as an appetizer, or, as part of a spread of mezedes in small portions. You can even serve this dish over cooked orzo pasta, or, rice or mashed potatoes for a very satisfying main course. Enjoy it with crusty bread and maybe a few shots of ouzo!
- 4 TBSP. olive oil
- ½ med. onion, finely chopped
- 3 med. cloves of garlic, minced
- 3 med. very ripe, fresh tomatoes, seeded & chopped
- ¾ tsp. sea salt
- ¼ tsp. freshly ground pepper (or more)
- ¼ cup dry white wine
- 2 TBSP. tomato paste
- 3 TBSP. flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
- 1 lb. large raw shrimp, tails on, shelled & deveined (about 30 shrimp/lb.)
- 3-4 oz. Greek feta cheese, crumbled (this comes to about ¾ of a cup)
- Preheat oven to 400˚F.
- Heat an ovenproof skillet, (cast iron pan would work great here) over medium heat. Add the olive oil and then stir in the onion. Cook for about 4 minutes and then add the garlic and cook for another minute or so, until the garlic is soft. Next, stir in the tomatoes, season with salt and pepper and cook for another 5 minutes, crushing them with the back of a wooden spoon. Stir in the wine and tomato paste (if using--see note) and cook for 5 minutes more, until sauce is reduced and the alcohol has evaporated. Add the shrimp and the parsley and continue to cook, stirring from time to time, until the shrimp just begins to turn pink, about 2 to 3 minutes.
- If you do not use an ovenproof skillet, transfer the mixture to a casserole dish and crumble the Feta cheese over the top. Place in the hot oven on the medium rack. Bake until the cheese has melted and the sauce has thickened, about 10 minutes.
- Serve with plenty of crusty bread to sop up the sauce!