Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Baked Shrimp with Tomatoes

Recipe modified by Gretchen Wilson – January 31, 2011
For a commentary-free and printer-friendly version of it, please click here.

Recipe originally published in Cooking Light, January/February 2011.

I try to make seafood at least once a week, if not more, but I have a slight issue.  My husband and I can’t eat dinner together during the week (he doesn’t get home until 10PM), and fish doesn’t do well as leftovers.  Therefore, I usually go to shrimp since it holds up well to the fridge.

Of course, there are only so many ways to prepare shrimp and I try not to soak our seafood in buttery sauces (although they sure are good).  So when I came across a simple tomato and bread shrimp topping, I couldn’t wait to try it.

My finished product:

© You Want Me to Cook?

Picture published with recipe:

© Cooking Light

It doesn’t look too bad, although I’m wondering how they got their shrimp to look so pretty.  Mine are definitely cooked and pink, but they don’t have that golden color Cooking Light’s shrimp have.  Yet, I was still very excited to taste it.

for more details about what my ratings mean, go to Gretchen’s Rating System

MessSIGH – Even though you have to pull out your food processor, you’re only chopping up bread, so it isn’t that much of a mess to clean up.  However, chopping parsley and slicing tomatoes, either of which can drive me insane, pushed it to a little higher of mess.  Finish it off with peeling and deveining shrimp and that’s it.  It is a solid SIGH.

Start-to-Finish Time: ABOUT AN HOUR – It only takes 15 minutes to cook, but the prep work and getting the dish ready will take you about 45 minutes.

Prep Work: LOSS OF FINGER POSSIBLE – Parsley is one of the biggest pains to chop.  The leaves are small and thin and it is hard to line them all up.  The tomatoes aren’t difficult, but you do need a sharp knife.  There’s no danger in getting the shrimp ready, but it is certainly messy.

Ease of Recipe: THE BASICS – There’s nothing difficult about the recipe, but you do need a food processor.  I got my first one in my 30s, so it really isn’t a COOKING IN MY SLEEP type of recipe.

OverallBLEECH – I bet you didn’t see this one coming.  I’ll give my husband credit… he ate all the leftovers, but the request was to not make it again.

Recipe Information:
Time estimates are from the original publisher of the recipe, not the length of time it took me to create it.  Look for my comments below.  Nutritional Information is based on original recipe.  Any changes I make to reduce the caloric, fat, cholesterol or sodium content are not reflected in the Nutritional Information.

Prep/Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 6

Nutritional Information (1 serving – about 5 shrimp, ¼ cup breadcrumb mixture and 2 tomato slices)
  • Calories 364
  • Total Fat 16.5g (Saturated Fat 5.4g)
  • Cholesterol 274mg
  • Sodium 563mg
  • Calcium 140mg
  • Total Carbohydrate 16g
  • Fiber 1.8g
  • Protein 37.1g
  • Iron 5.5mg

I’m not sure how any thinks that a novice to intermediate cook can get this done in 30 minutes.  The prep work alone took me about 25 minutes.  I finished in about an hour.  You can definitely get 6 servings out of the dish, but with a salad you can get a little more.

It is a fairly healthy meal.  The fat comes from the olive oil and shrimp, but at least they are somewhat healthy fats.

Changes denoted by red text
1 piece French bread baguette (about 3 ounces)
½ cup finely chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons butter, divided
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1½ pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined          
¼ teaspoon salt, divided
¼ teaspoon black pepper, divided
3 medium tomatoes, cut into ¼ inch-thick slices (about 1 pound)
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Ingredient Notes:
  • Ordinarily, I tell people you can substitute dried parsley for small amounts – ½ cup is NOT a small amount.  Buy a bunch and you’ll use most of it.
  • The recipe didn’t specify the type of parsley to use: flat leaf or curly.  I went with the flat leaf because it has more flavor.

Garlic – to save some time, I went with pre-minced garlic.

Olive Oil – should you use your really expensive extra-virgin olive oil or not.  Since it is not the focus of the dish and is used as a cooking medium (mixed with butter), don’t waste your good olive oil stash.  The cheap(er) stuff works just fine.

  • When you buy your shrimp, “Large” shrimp are considered to be 21 to 30 ct size shrimp.
  • I usually buy frozen shrimp because it is cheaper.  You can also buy deveined and pre-peeled shrimp from your seafood counter if you are going to cook it within the next day or so.

Tomatoes – the original recipe called for 2 medium tomatoes at around (1 pound).  I ended up using 3 to make my pound.

Balsamic Vinegar – the balsamic vinegar is not the main flavor of this dish, but it definitely adds some flavor.  I purchased some of the good stuff for another recipe and had no problems using it for this dish.

Equipment Needed:

Cutting board
Bread knife
Sharp knife
Bowl (for cleaned shrimp)
Food processor
Mixing spoon
Large skillet
Large spoon
Glass baking dish
Small bowl (melting butter)

Equipment Notes:
Bread Knife – it is different from a sharp knife in that it has a serrated edge that allows you to easily cut through crust without squishing the bread inside.  Even though you are going to pulse the bread into fine crumbs, you don’t want to crush it before doing it either.

Scale – you need 3 ounces of bread and a kitchen scale is pretty much one of the only ways to do it.  But don’t think you won’t use it for other things either.  I use my scale all the time, but most importantly to make sure I’m using portion control.  Okay, not always, but some of the time.

Food Processor – unfortunately, you’re going to need a food processor.  A mini-chop won’t be able to do the job and a blender simply isn’t meant to pulse food into fine crumbs

Glass Baking Dish
  • So as you can probably see from the picture, they cooked their meals as individual portions in gratin dishes.  Well I didn’t have gratin dishes, so I figured my large glass baking dish would do the trick.
  • Ordinarily the difference between glass baking dishes and metal baking pans are the ability to withstand extreme heat and altered baking temperatures.  However, according to Better Homes and Gardens metal pans can react with eggs and acidic foods like tomatoes, so make sure you use a glass baking dish for this recipe.

(1)  Preheat oven to 450°F.

(2)  Cut bread into chunks and place bread in a food processor; pulse until fine crumbs measure 1½ cups.

The original recipe did not specify to cut up the bread before putting it in the food processor.  I found that it made it easier to pulse it into fine crumbs that way.

(3)  Combine breadcrumbs, parsley, and garlic.

(4)  Heat 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.

Breadcrumbs golden brown and YUMMY!
© You Want Me to Cook?
(5)  Add breadcrumb mixture; cook 3 minutes or until golden brown and garlic is fragrant, stirring frequently.

(6)  Coat a shallow glass dish with remaining tablespoon of oil.

(7)  Arrange shrimp in a single layer; sprinkle with 1/8 teaspoon salt and pepper.

I’m not sure how they got all the shrimp in one layer into 6 gratin dishes because I couldn’t get them all in one layer in a 13x9 dish.  I’m starting to think they used “jumbo” shrimp instead of “large”.

(8)  Sprinkle with ¾ cup breadcrumb mixture; top with tomato slices.

(9)  Sprinkle with remaining 1/8 teaspoon of salt and pepper.

(10)  Top with remaining ¾ cup breadcrumb mixture.

(11)  Melt the remaining tablespoon of butter in a small bowl and drizzle over the breadcrumb mixture.

The original recipe told me to “dot” the casserole “with the remaining butter.”  What the heck does “dot” mean?  It makes sense if it is melted, but are you supposed to cut the remaining butter into dots and place them on top?  Seriously, I’m asking that question?

So I melted the butter and drizzled it over the top.  I figured it would be pretty close to whatever they were going for.

(12)  Bake at 450° for 16 minutes or until the shrimp are done.

Since I had some overlapping shrimp, it took me 4 minutes more to bake the shrimp.  The original recipe said it should be done in 12, but I noticed the bottom shrimp were done in 16 minutes.

(13)  Drizzle with vinegar.

So why didn’t I like this dish?  The juice was really runny and not savory and the shrimp were slightly bland.  It wasn’t horrible – I mean I ate my whole serving – it’s just that if I lived by myself, I would have thrown away the rest.  I certainly wouldn’t have fed it to anyone else.

If you told me that it needed to be tried again, here’s what I’d do differently:
  • I’d bite the bullet and get some gratin dishes.
  • I’d buy jumbo shrimp.
  • I might cook them for 10 minutes and then broil them for 2 to get that pretty color.

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