Prawns “Saganaki” with Orzo

prawns-orzo mitsides.jpg

It’s one of those dishes you just put in the middle of the table together with the Ouzo glasses. This dish smells and tastes summer. Prawns, ouzo and feta are a staple dish at any Greek seaside tavern and it’s the dish I most associate with my summers in Paros. Prawns cooked in a rich and sweet tomato sauce, flavored with Ouzo. Who wouldn’t eat that?

This recipe is a twist of the classic Greek dish as I added orzo to make it more of a complete meal. I topped it with feta and then grilled it to melt the cheese. It’s absolutely delicious and a great way to start the holidays. Friends will bring the Ouzo; I’ll go get the ice cubes.

prawns-orzo.jpgIngredients

  • 24 medium prawns, half peeled (keep the heads), half left whole with head and tail intact
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • ¼ cup Ouzo
  • 1 X 400 grams “Mitsides” chopped tomatoes
  • 1 X 200 grams “Mitsides” tomato passata
  • ½ cup parsley, chopped plus more to garnish
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • 1/8 tsp dried chilli flakes or cayenne pepper
  • 1 X 500 grams “Mitsides” orzo
  • 4 cups vegetable broth, divided
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup (200 grams) feta cheese, crumbled

Method

Preheat the oven grill at 240 C.

Put olive oil in a large skillet or frying pan (a paella pan would also be ok), over high heat. Add the unpeeled prawns and fry on both sides until they are pink and start to curve, about 1 minute. Take them out of the pan in a glass bowl.

Lower heat to medium and add the onions with a pinch of salt. Cook stirring frequently until onions are soft and begin to colour. Add the prawn heads (the ones you kept from t he ones you peeled) together with the garlic. Cook for a minute or so then turn up the heat and add the Ouzo. Let it boil for about a minute and add the chopped tomatoes, tomato passata, parsley, paprika, chlli flakes, salt and pepper.

Bring everything back to the boil and add the orzo. Stir a bit and then add half of the broth. Bring to boil again and lower the heat to low, so that the food just simmers. Cover the skillet and let the orzo cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently so that the orzo doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan (it will stick a bit, but as long as it doesn’t burn, it’s ok).

Uncover the skillet and add the remaining broth. Give it a stir and cover again. Keep cooking the same way, about 10 minutes more, stirring frequently until orzo is cooked al dente. You might need to add some more water, until orzo is cooked the way you like it. But be careful not to over cook it.

Remove the prawn heads from the orzo and discard. Add the uncooked, peeled prawns in the pan and stir. Leave to cook for about a minute, adding a little bit of water if orzo seems too dry. When prawns are cooked, remove pan from the heat. Top orzo with the unpeeled prawns (the ones you fried earlier) and scatter the feta all over. Transfer pot under the grill for 7-8 minutes until feta is soft and begins to colour. Garnish with parsley and serve.

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