The combination of shellfish, tomato and anise is so wonderful together. Let your sauce simmer for a couple of hours for the best flavor and then assemble your dish and finish in the oven. Make sure you have some good bread to mop up all the flavors. I love serving this dish in individual baking dishes (makes for a great presentation) that come out of the oven hot. This is a great first course if you downsize the portions. Otherwise you could prepare in a single pan.
Yield : 2 servings
- 12 medium shrimp peeled and deveined (about 1/2 pound)
- 1 fennel bulb, sliced 1/2 inch thick + reserved fennel fronds for garnish
- 1 small onion, diced
- 1 15 ounce can diced tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 2 tablespoons ouzo (or Pernod)
- 6 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon neutral vegetable oil
- Olive oil for roasting
- 1/2 -3/4 cup crumbled feta
- diced San marzano tomatoes, for garnish ( optional)
- Kosher salt and pepper
- Sliced bread for serving
make your sauce:
In a medium sauce pan, melt butter at medium heat. Add diced onion and tomato paste and season modestly with salt and pepper until translucent and softened ( a few minutes). Add tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Add ouzo and about a half a cup of water, reduce heat and simmer 1-2 hours, adding a bit of additional water as needed. (Sauce can be made ahead and refrigerated for several days)
for fennel and shrimp:
Preheat oven to 425. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Spread out sliced fennel tossed with olive oil and lightly seasoned with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for about 25 minutes until fennel is tender and beginning to caramelize turning golden on edges. Remove from oven and once cool enough to handle, roughly chop it and add to tomato sauce. Leave oven on and keep sauce warm.
Heat a medium sauté pan with neutral oil on medium high. Pat shrimp dry with paper towel and season shrimp with a bit of salt and pepper. Sauté for about 3 minutes a side, slightly underdone. Add chopped garlic for the last minute of cooking.
Ladle sauce into 2 individual baking dishes or one 8×8 baking dish if you prefer. Transfer shrimp and garlic on top of sauce and distribute crumbled feta evenly atop of your dishes. Place on a baking sheet and transfer to oven. Allow to bake an additional 5-7 minutes until sauce bubbles and feta is melting. Remove from oven and garnish with fennel fronds and some fresh diced tomatoes. Drizzle with a little olive oil. Serve immediately with bread and enjoy!