Shrimp Feta and Fennel

I’m still all blushy and glowy from all the love yesterday from the SITS community! You ladies all rock and I’m looking forward to taking the time to drop by all of your blogs.

After all the gushing about some of my recipes, I got a little nervous today.

Dinner tonight wasn’t just about me and my fiance. Now, it was about all of you, too.

I didn’t want to disappoint.

I opened up some of my favorite cookbooks and riffled through all the pages torn from magazines.

My palms started to sweat. I started twirling my hair. Bad signs.

And then, I went back and looked over some of the comments you all left me. And one really stood out. Mo at Mocadeaux (check out her blog here) wrote that she loves high impact and low effort recipes.

I started to breathe more evenly. High impact. Low effort. The hallmarks of itty bitty city kitchen cooking.

Then I remembered something the Barefoot Contessa made that we had wanted to try. A super simple, one pot meal that’s packed with high impact ingredients.

I have a tendency to discount any recipe that has more than 10 ingredients. I get overwhelmed. It gets expensive. And, o ¬†yea, I don’t have the space.

So dishes like this that rely on a few key, really good ingredients, are a standby.

You will need:

  • 1 pound of shrimp, peeled, tails on
  • 1 fennel bulb, chopped
  • 1 28oz can of diced tomatoes
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper
  • feta

Preheat the oven to 400.

In an oven-safe shallowish pot or skillet, drizzle olive oil and add in the garlic and fennel. Cook over medium until softened.

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Pour in the diced tomatoes, season with salt and pepper and stir. I added a splash of Pastis to bring out the anise flavor. It’s not necessary. You can add a splash of white wine instead if you want. Totally up to you.

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Let the sauce cook and bubble for about 10 minutes so the flavors come together. Next up, the shrimp.

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I used one pound for the two of us. I also went with mediums. I noticed that the large have a tendency to come out tough sometimes.

Nest the shrimp, tails up, in with the tomatoes and fennel.

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Sprinkle the mixture liberally with Feta. Bake for 15 minutes.

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The shrimp will turn pink and be cooked perfectly. The fennel will still be slightly crunchy. The tomatoes will create a broth perfect for dunking the shrimp or the bread. And the feta adds the salty bite the dish needs.

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Spoon out into a bowl. Pick up a piece of shrimp, take a bite and then scoop a spoonful of tomato and fennel into your mouth. Grab a piece of crusty bread and soak up all of those anisey tomatoes juices.

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This is the perfect one pot meal for a Saturday night in.

Chicken with Tomato and Fennel, Stuffed Mushrooms

This is a one pot meal.

Okay a one pot and one cookie sheet meal, but we’re going to cover that with foil, so no clean up there.

A one-pot-to-clean-up meal.

For this recipe you will need:

  • a container of white button mushrooms, washed
  • bread crumbs
  • olive oil
  • parmesan cheese
  • one fennel bulb
  • two tomatoes
  • two chicken breasts
  • white wine
  • salt and pepper to taste

Most of the recipes on here are for two but can easily be doubled or tripled as needed.

You don’t have to make the mushrooms with the chicken, but I bought two containers of mushrooms over the weekend when I really needed one, and so have some spare mushrooms laying around.

Let’s start with the mushrooms, because once they’re assembled and thrown into the oven, we’ll make the chicken and our timing will be so spot on that we’ll be turning the burner off on the chicken and pulling the mushroom out of the oven and putting everything on the table piping hot at the same time.

Note: this has never happened, but I tend to cook things that are forgiving when (every night) this doesn’t happen.

OK, mushrooms. Preheat the oven to 400.

Assembly line is the best way to go in a small kitchen.

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Cleaned mushrooms, bowl, foil-lined cookie sheet (or pizza pan- whatever you have). Twist the stems from the caps so you have a mushroom cap turned bowl. Caps go on the baking sheet, cup side up, and stems go in the bowl.

Ready? Go!

Okay, when you have all the caps lined up on the sheet, get ready to get your hands dirty.

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My mom pulls out a cutting board and chops up all of the mushroom stems, but I just don’t have the space for that. (I do. I have my over the sink cutting board. But after a hard day at work, mushing up the stems with your hands is so much more satisfying). Before you dig in to mash them up, be sure you have bread crumbs, parmesan cheese and olive oil handy. I’ve forgotten this step before. It results in bits of mushroom on cabinet pulls and refrigerator handles.

Break up the stems into small pieces. You don’t have to go crazy, just break them up. Add some bread crumbs and some olive oil to get a wet sand consistency. There’s no real measurements here. It’s just by feel. Not too dry, not too wet. Like the perfect sandcastle building sand. Stir in some parmesan cheese. (you can leave the cheese out, or you can switch up the type. I’ve used feta, provolone diced up, or mozzarella. Use what you like, just don’t use too much. You just want a subtle little bit of cheesiness to break up the mushroom woodiness).

Using your hands or a spoon (I always go for hands), mound the mixture into the mushroom caps.

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These are ready to go into a 400 degree oven for fifteen to twenty minutes.

I’m going to throw the bowl in the sink and move the cookie sheet to the side for now. I’ll put it in the oven when I put the chicken in the pan and cross my fingers everything gets done at the same time.

Two chicken breasts, washed and patted dry come out of the fridge along with two tomatoes and the fennel. I keep ingredients in the fridge or cabinet until I’m ready for them to be used to save space.

Chop up the fennel and tomatoes. I go for a fairly chunky chop because I like big pieces of each ingredient on the form. Up to you, though. As big or as a small as you like. If you’re in a pinch, you can replace the fresh tomatoes with a can of diced too. You can even mix it up with a can of diced tomatoes with basil or with garlic or with whatever. These aren’t recipes to follow precisely. Heck, I don’t even give you precise measurements! These are just ideas and what’s bubbling in my kitchen.

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Drizzle some olive oil in your pan. You can use a frying pan that’s a little deeper if you want. Or a wide bottom pot on the shallow side. I use this aluminum one for like everything. Toss in the fennel and tomatoes and cook over medium heat. You want the fennel to start to soften and the juices from the tomatoes to start to run in the pan. Add a splash of white wine (You can leave out, of course).

While this is simmering, put the mushrooms in the oven. Season your chicken with salt and pepper and place in the pan, nesting in the tomatoes and fennel.

Cook through, flipping to cook both sides. About twenty minutes.

If you find the chicken isn’t cooking through in the center, don’t hesitate to throw it in the oven with the mushrooms. I do this sometimes when I have to do a million things and don’t have the time to babysit the chicken on the stove. This is why I go to this aluminum pot- it’s oven-safe.

The chicken is cooked through when the juices run clear. The tomatoes and oil and wine will make a wonderfully acidic and tangy sauce for the chicken that’s balanced by the anise fennel.

The mushrooms add a nice richness, a nice pop of almost butteryness and fattyness as a juxtaposition against the freshness of the chicken.

Add a side salad and a glass of wine and you’re in business. Crusty Italian bread to sop up the juices for those of you not counting carbs is also recommended.

One piece of chicken per person, fennel and tomatoes scooped on top.

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Mushrooms on a plate in the center of the table for popping. A crisp romaine salad on the side.

The pot goes into the sink. The foil lining the sheet gets tossed.

And the day slips away in a haze of red wine.