5 Star Makeover: Shrimp Saganaki as a classic Greek Meze

Oh so looking forward to what everyone will make for this 5 Star Makeover. Our theme this month is Greek Meze, or appetizers. We all checked in to make sure no recipe will be made twice so watch out for the round up for amazing Greek fare inspiration. I chose a wonderful meze which can easily be transformed into a main meal as well. My meze is called Garides Saganaki, or Shrimp Saganaki.

This theme came up at a most appropriate time in an odd way for me. One of the things I do at my 9 to 5 job is write an online travel guide. I just happen to finish the country Greece, having written quite a bit about Greek food. Greek food brings back childhood memories of dinners parties at my dad’s old partner’s house. He and his wife where first generation Greek and they had a daughter my age. I remember being terribly impressed at the site of so many flavorful dishes when they invited us over for dinner. OK I rambling but basically I want to say how much I enjoy really good Greek food.

I am also a fan of anything seafood so I jumped at the chance to prepare this dish. I also go gaga for feta! This is a really simple and quick dish to prepare but it is so packed with flavor. I am always amazed at the simplicity of certain recipes which make my taste buds go crazy. I got a similar delightful surprise with the Boureki I made recently, a dish for the Greek Islands. There are two tips I can give you to prepare a successful simple Greek dish: the freshness of your ingredients and enjoy the smells as you cook. The smells are uplifting.

The word Saganaki refers to a cooking term in Greek cuisine where the food is cooked in a single-serving pan. The pan is also called Saganaki.  The most popular dish is the Cheese Saganaki where a hard cheese is pan seared. If you want to get really fancy why not flambe it at the end with a shot of Ouzo!  There are a couple of versions where shrimp and mussels are used. As you may have guessed it by now Garides is the phonetically written word for shrimp in Greek, γαρίδα.

We have 3 guest start ingredients in this recipe. The first is a hot pepper I picked up in Toronto last week in a Latin market. The Cascabel chili would be classified as medium heat. It is know for sounding like a maracas when dried as the seeds get loose in the bell shaped pepper. Next up is Mastic which I ground and added to some white wine. I did not have Ouzo so I improvised! Mastic is the resin of the Mastic tree on the island of Chios. It has a distinctive flavor close to pine or cedar.  Finally to add a subtle touch of sunshine I used the O blood orange olive oil which I found on the Foodspring Marketplace. This is a cool website which was set up by a non-profit organization, the National Association for the Specialty Food Trade. You can find many natural, organic and exotic ingredients listed here but they do not sell them, instead they link you to where you can by the products.

Ξ Garides Saganaki Ξ

Ingredients

2 tablespoon blood orange olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 1/2 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 teaspoon Cascabel pepper flakes (or any hot pepper)
1 1/2 cup tomatoes, chopped
1 tbsp fresh oregano, chopped
Salt and pepper
1/3 cup ouzo (or mastic liqueur or white wine)
1/2 pound medium shrimp
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
chopped oregano for serving

Directions

Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook until softened and translucent. Add the hot pepper flakes and garlic, saute for 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes, oregano, salt, pepper and ouzo and simmer until the sauce thickens for 5 minutes.  Add the shrimp and simmer until just cooked, turning the shrimp once halfway. Transfer half the mixture to a souffle dish and top with half the feta cheese, repeat. Bake in a preheated oven at 425 F until the sauce is bubbly for approx 10 minutes. Sprinkle with fresh oregano. Makes 4 appetizer servings or 2 main meals.

Traditionally this meze is served with crusty bread. If you want to make it a meal than prepare pasta, or couscous and serve the shrimp over it.

26 comments to 5 Star Makeover: Shrimp Saganaki as a classic Greek Meze

  • I love shrimps! This is totally droolworthy and lipsmacking!

  • Another of my favorites. Beautiful post.

  • First of all I want to congratulate you for the very specific and correct instructions regarding saganaki and then I will have to congratulate you again for tweaking this classic summer dish in a very tasty and delicious way! Since I am Greek and live in Greece I can also tell you that we love to eat this meze nearby the sea especially during summer!

  • Those shrimp look absolutely amazing! I’m intrigued by the blood orange olive oil. Can you really taste the blood orange?

    • Cucina49, in this recipe the blood orange taste is a bit more subtle since there are other big flavors, but in a more bland dish yes it is a very fragrant oil. I used the O Clementine Olive Oil for olive oil ice cream once it and it was amazing.

  • That dish looks so pretty and delicious but I have a question. Blood orange olive oil, what’s that?

  • These shrimps look awesome! But, i have the same question as balvinder… What is blood orange olive oil? I like the sound of it…

  • This is such a beautiful dish. Honestly, if I were in Greece I think it would be just the sort of thing I would order — full of fresh, bold flavors. I need to make it!

  • I bet it was so flavorful! Great dish for the Makeover!
    Shrimp and Feta are great together, but the addition of blood orange olive oil, mastic, fresh oregano, and hot pepper put it over the top!
    LL

  • It’s funny, in Italian cuisine mixing shrimp and cheese is a big no-no, but man it works SO WELL in this. I love shrimp and feta and tomato sauce – I would gobble this whole thing up, thereby ruining the whole mezze concept, lol

  • ooh, love this dish, and you’ve put a wonderful spin on it! making me crave shrimp :)

  • Liz

    What a fabulous, beautiful, flavorful dish!!! And now I’m going to keep my eyes out for O Blood Orange Olive oil…it sounds like a delightful pantry item. Sweet Katerina who posted above sent me some mastic…and I’m glad to have a new use for it :)

  • First, I thought saganaki sounds very Japanese word – although it doesn’t really mean anything. This fancy looking Greek food is totally capturing your audience Evelyne! I’ve never had shrimp dish with feta before, but I believe you since you are a feta lover. =) Very gorgeous dish!

  • Evelyne, when I first had this dish in a local Greek restaurant I felt in love with it. Love the twist that you made…awesome pictures.
    Thanks for sharing this recipe and hope you are enjoying your week :)

  • I’m getting to know Greek food a little bit better from visiting everyone’s entry. I know so little about it. Shrimp and cheese in tomato sauce — if I get it right. It sounds divine and serving on a slice of baguette sounds very good!

  • I love the hint of blood orange in this dish, and how fun it must have been to go to that house as a child and eat all that Greek food. I grew up in a town where most of the restaurants were owned by Greeks, and although they weren’t all Greek eateries, their was a certain influence and usually a few dishes on the menu. I have a great appreciation for the cuisine.

  • Loving the “guest star” ingredients in your excellent version of saganaki! Nice!

  • I attended a Taste of Greece dinner a few years ago and came away thinking there is little better than fried, flaming cheese saganaki! But, your “guest star” ingredients certainly make your shrimp saganaki shine and I have blood orange olive oil – definitely trying these. Mastic sounds like retsina – are they the same?

  • Yummy! This shrimp turned out great!! I made this dish in culinary school and remember how delicious it was. I’m sure yours is fantastic as well :-D

  • As soon as I saw the title to this post I thought “Oooh..I’m about to see flaming shrimp!” lol I think that might be too ambitious, though since overcooking the shrimp is a possibility. I love your creative take on Saganaki and now you’ve made me want to go out and eat Greek tonight :)

  • I just love ouzo and dishes made with it. Your shrimp is a spectacular use of it. I’d probably tasted mastic before but never knew what I was tasting until a few years ago. I love it!! It’s like a perfume isn’t it? Now I’ve got to make this to see what it’s like in shrimp. Great makeover… viva the Greeks!!!

  • Oh my goodness, what delightful bites these are! I love the addition of your “guest start ingredients”, really puts this beauty over the top! Beautifully done as always!

  • Joan Nova

    Lots of good flavors going on here. I know this had to be delicious. Well done!

  • […] inspired by two past recipes I have posted here: the Barbecue Tomatoes Stuffed with Oka and the Shrimp Saganaki. I just substituted the stuffing for the saganaki. I did cook the stuffing a bit in a skillet ahead […]