Monday, May 19, 2008

From a Volcanic Isle with Recipe for Shrimp Santorini in Tomato and Caper Sauce (Γαρίδες Σαντορίνης)

Santorini SunsetWhite-washed houses, bright blue skies, sun sparkling on the sea, and brilliant sunsets. Some of Greece’s most iconic images are of Santorini.

Santorini is an island in the southern Aegean Sea and a regular stop for cruise ships wending their way through the Greek isles. Although it's jam-packed with tourists during the summer months, visitors to Santorini, dazzled by its dramatic beauty, write glowingly about their time on the island.

Modern Santorini was shaped by a violent volcanic eruption that occurred around 1500 BC. The volcano blew away the center of the island, forming a huge caldera. Some have theorized that Santorini is the site of mythical Atlantis, and the eruption is what caused Atlantis to be swallowed by the sea. Santorini’s volcano is still active.

Two years ago, we visited Santorini in early April. Because the season had not yet begun, we often had Santorini’s narrow village streets to ourselves. Many of the shops were closed. We had a great time.

The shopkeepers and restaurant owners were happy to see us, not yet jaded by a full season of tending tourists. Over glasses of Santorini’s crisp Assyrtiko white wine, our hotel’s owner told us about the island’s bone-dry volcanic soil and the crops that thrive in it.

“Waterless” tomatoes, capers, yellow split peas (called fava in Greece), and wine grapes are Santorini’s most important agricultural products. When we left, my bags were packed with jars of sun-dried Santorini tomatoes, dried capers, pickled caper leaves, and a kilo of fava.

One of the best things I ate on Santorini was locally-caught Shrimp in Tomato and Caper Sauce. The intense taste of Santorini’s sun-dried tomatoes boosted the sauce’s tomato flavor, and tangy capers made the dish truly special.

Shrimp Santorini in Tomato and Caper SauceShrimp Santorini in Tomato and Caper Sauce (Γαρίδες Σαντορίνης)
Serves 4
Capers are salty, so don’t add too much salt until after you’ve tasted the sauce with capers in it. Shrimp stay more tender when cooked at low temperature. No matter the temperature, shrimp cook quickly and must be watched carefully to prevent them from overcooking and getting tough. My husband likes this with a little fresh lemon juice squeezed over; I prefer it without.

Tomato Sauce:
1 1/2 cups diced onions, 1/4” dice
2 Tbsp. olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. Aleppo pepper (optional)
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes or 1 1/2 cups fresh, with juices
1 1/2 cups water
1 bay leaf
2 tsp. oregano
3 Tbsp. minced sun-dried tomatoes in oil or 1 1/2 Tbsp. tomato paste
3 Tbsp. capers, preferably salted, rinsed and soaked to remove excess salt

1 1/2 pounds shrimp, shelled
Lemon wedges (optional)

Sauté the onions, lightly seasoned with salt and freshly ground black pepper, in olive oil until the onions soften and start to turn golden. Stir in the Aleppo pepper and cook for 1 minute. Add the white wine and boil until it is reduced by half. Stir in the tomatoes, water, bay leaf, and oregano. Bring to a boil, cover, turn down the heat, and simmer for 45 – 60 minutes or until the sauce thickens and its flavors meld together. If the sauce is too thick, add a little water. Turn off the heat and stir in the sun-dried tomatoes and capers. Taste and add salt or freshly ground black pepper, as needed. (This can be made well ahead.)

Wash and dry the shrimp. Season them on both sides with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Bring the sauce to a simmer and add the shrimp. Cook just until the shrimp turn pink, about 5 minutes total for medium-sized shrimp. Serve immediately with chunks of feta cheese, oil-cured black olives, a crisp green salad, and plenty of crusty bread for mopping up the sauce.
This is my entry for
Antioxidant Rich Foods/Five-a-Day Tuesdays hosted by Sweetnicks.


Peter M said...

Ahh Santorini...stayed in Oia in '88, breathtaking.

The "ntomatinas" are so flavourful and a rightful partner to garides in this island's signature dish.

Peter G said...

I love these flavoursome Greek "saltses". Even more so when enhanced with sun dried tomatoes and capers. Love the shrimp in this too. Aaaahh! I'll never forget Santorini sunsets.

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

I want to be sitting at that table in your photograph, eating this shrimp dish!

Bellini Valli said...

My daughter and I would have been in Santorini 2 years ago in the middle of May...just missed you. I brought back a couple of cans of tomatoes. We stayed in Firestofani.My favourote dish on the idsland was tomato keftedes!!!!!!!!!!!!!


i agree with lydia - i would also like to be at that table in the photo!

Cheryl said...

Yum! This looks fantastic and I love the photos!

Lulu said...

Oh, Laurie, this is stunning! I can hardly wait to try it.

Ivy said...

Chronia Polla Laurie-HELEN.

Mike of Mike's Table said...

This looks absolutely delicious!

manju said...

Lovely photos -- the red in the sunset seems reflected in that delectable double-tomato sauce, too!

Laurie Constantino said...

PeterM, Oia is a lovely village and, oh, the sunsets! You must have had fun.

PeterG, yes, Greek sauces have so much incredibly good flavor - how can one not love saucy food???

Lydia, me too!

Val, too bad I missed you! And, yes, Santorini's tomato keftedes are simply marvelous.

Maria, let's have a party!

Cheryl, thank you.

LuLU, hope you like it...

Ivy, thank you! Chronia Polla to all.

Thanks Mike!

Manju, I just went back and looked at the sunset picture again and started getting hypnotized by the sun -- I could almost believe I was back there...

Sam Sotiropoulos said...

Santorini... a truly unique place with some unique recipes too! I have been to Santorini three times and stayed for as long as two weeks and I could go back twenty-three more times! Great post Laurie, brought back a few memories for me...and the recipe is delish! I can taste it from here! :-)

renaedujour said...

Wonderful recipe and beautiful sunset. I'll put that down on my list of places to go and recipes to make.

Laurie Constantino said...

Sam, one of my life goals is to have the time (and $$) to be able to travel around Greece as much as I'd like - sounds like you could too!

renaedujour, everyone should go to Santorini at least once in their life - it's very beautiful, very interesting, and has wonderful food (what more could you want??)

Bijoux said...

For the love of seafood...when I look at this picture of the shrimp and capers, I can practically hear the ocean waves lapping against my favourite rocky shore near Keros beach - Aghia Kiriaki. I can't believe that it has been 13 years since I was last on the island. I will definitely have to try out this recipe soon. It looks fantastic!