Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Seven Fishes Feast - Baked Zucchini and Shrimp

Twas the night before..

As you probably can imagine, living in New England has it’s plus’s as well as pitfalls (such as most recent ice storm) but there is no denying we have the greatest selection of seafood in the country. With the holidays quickly approaching, deciding on the Christmas Eve ‘feast’ is no easy task.
Lobster, clams, shrimp, mussels, salted cod, along with abundant fish selections.
Christmas Eve is mostly a communal affair with my family—with grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, godmothers friends and more family gathering in the kitchen, resulting in very large quantities of assorted seafood dishes all lovingly prepared along with the cooks’ comparing ingredient notes of their respective specialties.

I suppose it will sound a bit odd coming from a New Englander.. but my favorite seafood of all isn’t the lobster. Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoy lobster, but if I have to be truthful, clearly it’s shrimp for me. Baked, fried, stuffed, scampi, you name it, I’ll be the first to order it! The Christmas Eve menu in our family will include many shellfish dishes and I’d be hard pressed to skip any of them, they are all so good! My sister’s baked stuffed shrimp is always a favorite, as is my Uncle Pete’s shrimp bake. From me, they always expect to see me appear with my lobster pie. But this year in addition to my lobster dish I will be preparing a baked shrimp dish that we just love. I really enjoy the simplicity of this dish and ease of preparation that I make typically in trays, as it disappears pretty fast off the serving table, but for this post I made it in individual ramekins as I’ll be making 3 trays of this in ten short days. I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as my family does and don’t feel you need to wait until Christmas Eve to make this one.. it’s yummy any time of the year :o)

This dish was a favorite of my Dads’ and why I will be submitting my Baked Zucchini and Shrimp to my friends, Maryann of Finding La Dolce Vita and Joe of Italyville who are jointly hosting a virtual Seven Fishes Feast, the traditional Christmas Eve feast celebrated by many Italian families. They’ll be giving away a fabulous basket full of goodies too! For the details of this fun event, CLICK here. Thanks for hosting this wonderful event Maryann & Joe. I just can’t wait! Buon natale!

3-4 small zucchini
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
¾ cup crumbled stale crusty bread
3 TBLS grated Parmesan cheese
½ cup fresh flat leaf parsley, thyme, rosemary, summer savory and mint diced together
½ tsp tobasco sauce
pinch of hot pepper flakes
thoroughly cleaned shrimp ( for two individual ramekins I used 8 jumbo shrimp, divided. Use a lot more when making this by the tray)
Sea salt & ground pepper
lemon wedges

·Preheat oven to 425 degrees

·With a mandolin or sharp knife, thinly slice the zucchini lengthwise. Finely
chop the herbs if you haven’t already and mix together with the crushed
breadcrumbs. Add Parmesan cheese, tobasco and pepper flakes tothe bread crumb

·Brush ramekins or other individual ovenproof dishes with some of the olive oil.
Place a layer of the sliced zucchini on the bottom and sprinkle with bread crumb
mixture. Arrange 4 shrimp on top of each, sprinkle a bit more of the bread crumb
mix over them. Add only a bit of sea salt & ground pepper and lightly drizzle
olive oil over the crumbs. Cover with next layer of zucchini slices and remaining
bread crumbs. Drizzle again lightly with olive oil and a bit of salt. Cover
ramekins with foil. Pop into the oven and bake for 8-10 minutes. Cooking time
will vary with ovens and whether or not you use fresh shrimp or precooked/frozen
/thawed shrimp. Just lightly brown crumb topping. Either are equally good. Serve
hot along with a bowl of sliced lemon wedges. Happy holidays everyone!