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Sunday, July 24, 2011

Shrimp and Feta Pizza

I love to cook.  That's pretty obvious because of this blog, right?  But at the risk of going all Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret, sometimes cooking for a picky 3-year-old can be a drag.  I think the most disappointing part is that while I haven't submitted my application for traveling food freak should the Weird Foods host up and quit, I'm a fairly adventurous eater.  So when my son started solid foods, I made my own baby food so that he could experience good cuisine at an early age.

How on earth did I end up with a child whose culinary daring doesn't wander far beyond edamame and salmon?

I'm probably grumpy because dinner, aside from Mr. Finicky's exclamations of "I don't like...!" fifty-seven times during the meal, was fairly disastrous.  We love homemade pizza in our house, so it was par for the course for me to make my own pizza dough in my bread maker.  But a crying baby and high humidity created a finished dough ball that was more ectoplasm than pizza.  This was remedied with a mad dash to Whole Foods for pizza dough.  (I ended up getting their multigrain dough and it's fantastic, by the way.)  And my need for Hooked on Phonics created the second dinner debacle: overlooking the word "grilled" in the recipe.  We have a community grill at our condo, but the hurdles to grilling more than steak are limitless. 

So what happened?  I'll share with you the recipe I made, not what I was supposed to make.

Shrimp and Feta Pizza 

3/4 lb medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 onion, sliced into rounds
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
1/2 tsp dried oregano
salt and pepper
1 lb prepared pizza dough at room temperature
1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

1. Move oven rack to lowest level in the oven and preheat to 500 degrees F.  Toss shrimp and onion in a bowl with olive oil, oregano and salt and pepper.

2.  Stretch pizza dough onto a pizza pan and brush the outer crust with olive oil.  Bake in the heated oven for 5 minutes.  Meanwhile, cook shrimp and onions in a skillet sprayed with cooking spray over medium-high heat until the shrimp begin to turn pink.

3.  Remove crust from the oven and top with shrimp, onions, tomatoes and feta.  Return to the oven and cook for an additional 10 to 15 minutes, or until crust is golden brown.  Transfer to a cutting board and cut into pieces.

The Verdict: Adults loved it.  Child dissected it like it was a high school biology experiment.

My son didn't like the grape tomatoes nor the onions; in other words, he didn't eat any of the vegetables.  Quel surprise.  He was also a little leery of the feta cheese.  He did, however, eat every bit of shrimp and crust given to him. 

As you can see in the picture, if it weren't for the tomatoes, this pizza would be pretty boring to the eye.  This is one place where the grilled vs. oven-cooked differences comes in.  The grilled pizza is has lovely little charred bits on the crust and the shrimp; the oven-baked pizza is largely white.  And because I didn't grill it, I can only guess about the next part and that is the sogginess factor.  Pizza, especially when it's homemade, runs the risk of being soggy.  It's in part because most of us don't have a pizza oven (but Lord, how I wish to have an outdoor brick oven someday!) that heats up to blazing temperatures, but it's also expertly stretching the dough and topping the pizza. 

Shrimp tends to let out a lot of moisture as it cooks, and of course, feta cheese is a high-moisture cheese.  In order not to end up with a soggy middle, drain the shrimp and dab with a paper towel after you cook it.  And squeeze out your feta before crumbling. 

Besides being too soft in the middle, the taste was fantastic.  It smells delicious as it cooks, too.  The oregano is slightly lemony, making it a perfect herb to pair with shrimp.  The feta gives the pizza a nice, salty tang and, when the tomatoes are added in, a great Mediterranean flair. 

Too bad the little critic didn't like it as much as we did.  But I'll keep trying.

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