Month of October: “David Tanis Market Cooking” Recipe: Shrimp with Tomatoes and Feta

“The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are.” Carl Jung

Tomatoes are coming to the end of their gloriously short lived season but if you’re lucky enough to get to a farmer’s market there still are a few lingering ones available to capture the last of the summer sun. Don’t wait if you want some!

I remember fondly a few precious summers in the Kickapoo region of Wisconsin where I lived a sliver of my wilder and younger life. I loved this area with all of my being. My son Sean who was four at the time when he lived there with me hated it. Ah, the fateful ironies of our deepest dreams. Leaving there was always hard for me. Decades later at Abby’s memorial I realized that what I felt in the depths of my being so long ago was real and long lasting, not just a fleeting fancy.

Now, here I am, middle aged, in my secret space on the second floor of this once stately home, a stone’s throw from the George Eastman house, in a tiny room, cooking and grieving the loss of my closest confidante. Every time I turn the doorknob and enter, I hear her whispering like Robin Williams in Dead Poet’s society, “carpe diem, seize the day.” I am listening Abby. I am listening. I don’t know where this is all taking me, but I am listening.

Ingredients: 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, 3 large shallots finely diced, 4 garlic cloves grated or minced, salt and pepper, 2 pounds ripe tomatoes, 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper, 1.5 pounds large peeled and deveined shrimp, 1/4 pound feta cheese, 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, 2 tablespoons roughly chopped mint.

1. Put 1/4 cup of olive oil in a wide skillet over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the shallots and garlic, season and cook, stirring until softened about 5 to 8 minutes, lower the heat as necessary to keep the mixture from browning. Remove from heat and set aside.

2.Fill a pot with water and bring to a boil. Add the whole tomatoes and cook for about 1 minute just until skins loosen. Immediately plunge tomatoes into a bowl of cold water to cool and then drain. With a paring knife, core the tomatoes and slip off the skins. Cut into thick wedges.

3.Heat the oven to 400F. Set the skillet of shallots and garlic over medium high heat. Add the tomato wedges and season with salt, pepper and crushed red pepper. Cook, stirring, until mixture is juicy and tomatoes have softened, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a shallow earthenware baking dish.

4. Put the shrimp into a medium bowl, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and season. Stir to coat. Arrange the shrimp over the tomato mixture in one layer. Crumble the cheese over the top and sprinkle with oregano.

5. Bake for 10-12 minutes until the tomatoes are bubbling, the shrimp has cooked and the cheese has browned slightly. Remove from the oven and let it rest for 5 minutes. Sprinkle with mint and serve.

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