When I think of how Greek food is seasoned, I tend to think of fresh herbs like oregano and mint, and not spices. So, I was surprised to find how integral spices are in Greek traditions, myths and even religious rituals. Greeks were first introduced to the spices of the East by trade routes that went over land and by sea, bringing exotic treasures from India and the Middle East.
In Greece as in Western cuisine, cinnamon, cloves, allspice and nutmeg are used frequently in desserts, cakes and cookies. However, in Greek cuisine, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and allspice play a key role in adding flavor to savory dishes such as meat and macaroni dishes and in flavoring tomato sauces.
In fitting with the traditional use of Greek spices, both allspice and cinnamon are used to make the tomato sauce for this Greek-spiced baked shrimp recipe I decided to make. When I took the baked shrimp out of the oven, the sauce was bubbling, the shrimp cooked perfectly, and the feta golden brown. A sprinkle of dill brought this dish together. The allspice, cinnamon and red pepper flakes combination exuded a deliciously unique taste and aroma. A meal fit for Greek Gods.
||medium onion, chopped
||garlic cloves, finely chopped
||tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
||teaspoon red pepper flakes
||teaspoon ground cinnamon
||teaspoon ground allspice
||(28 oz) can whole tomatoes in juice, drained, reserving juice, and chopped
||pinch of sugar
||pounds large peeled and deveined shrimp
||pound feta, crumbled about ⅔ cup
||tablespoons chopped dill
Preheat oven to 375 with rack in the middle.
Cook onion and garlic in oil with ¼ teaspoon salt in a heavy saucepan over medium heat until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in spices and cook, stirring for 30 seconds. Add chopped tomatoes with juice and sugar and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened about 20 minutes.
Remove from heat. Season shrimp with ⅛ teaspoon salt, then stir in tomato sauce. Transfer to a 2 quart shallow baking dish and top with feta. Baked until just cooked through, 18 – 20 minutes. Serve sprinkled with fresh dill. If the feta hasn’t browned, put under broiler for a few minutes.
Serve with crusty bread or white rice.
Gourmet Magazine, November Issue
Main Course and Seafood
Cinnamon, Chili and Allspice
Other Ingredients Used