The term saganaki actually refers to the metal skillet-like pan with two handles in which various dishes, including the classic Greek fried cheese dish, are traditionally served. The term is also used to describe dishes incorporating tomatoes, onions, and feta cheese prepared in a baking pan. This dish is easy to prepare and makes a sensational presentation served in the traditional pan. If you don’t have the traditional pan, use an attractive baking dish. I use both fresh and canned tomatoes for their difference in texture and acidity.
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, plus oil for drizzling
- ½ cup finely diced onion
- Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 teaspoon dried Greek oregano, plus oregano for sprinkling
- 1 cup diced peeled, seeded ripe tomatoes (see Note)
- ¼ cup dry white wine
- One 28-ounce can chopped tomatoes with juice
- ¼ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 1½ pounds medium shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails left on
- ¾ cup diced feta cheese
1. Preheat the oven to 450°F.
2. Heat ¼ cup oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onion along with a pinch of salt. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, for 8 minutes, or until soft and translucent. Add the garlic and sauté for another minute. Stir in the oregano along with a pinch of salt. Add the diced tomatoes and the wine and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 3 minutes.
3. Stir in the canned tomatoes with their juice, raise the heat to medium-high, and again bring to a simmer. Simmer for about 6 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened slightly. Fold in the parsley and season with salt and pepper to taste, noting that the feta will add some saltiness.
4. Spoon just enough tomato sauce into the bottom of a saganaki pan (or a 9 x 14-inch glass baking dish) to cover. Working from the outside in, make 3 concentric circles of shrimp. (If using a baking pan, begin placing the shrimp, three at a time, tail-to-head, in neat rows across the dish, with the tails all facing in the same direction and just barely touching. Add the remaining shrimp in overlapping rows of 3, shingle fashion, until the dish is filled. You should have 3 rows of 13 to 15 shrimp each.) Season the shrimp with salt and pepper to taste and then spoon the remaining tomato sauce over the top. Sprinkle the feta cheese over the top, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with oregano.
5. Bake in the middle of the preheated oven for 20 minutes, or until very hot and bubbling with golden brown cheese.