baked shrimp scampi

One of my favorite things about the warm-weather months is poking around the garden section of our local Home Depot.  I love the pervasive smell of wet earth and fresh vegetation.  I could spend hours walking up and down the aisles of flowers, talking watering schedules and fertilizer with the old ladies who seem to share my interest in flora.  And I’m always elated to find the tiny, biodegradable pots of fresh herbs, which are apparently stocked for a brief window of time each spring.

Last weekend’s excursion concluded with me buying a sweet basil and a rosemary plant.  With visions of pesto and focaccia bread dancing in my head, I scoured the internet for a dinner recipe that would showcase one of my finds.  I ended up choosing to try Ina Garten’s Baked Shrimp Scampi because, 1) it featured fresh rosemary, and 2) it looked both easy and fast to make, which is really a plus on a weeknight.

I used frozen, deveined, shelled shrimp, thawing them while I decompressed on the couch.  I then tossed the shrimp in olive oil, salt, pepper, and wine, and let them marinate while I mashed together one and a half sticks of butter (crazy, right?), panko bread crumbs, chopped shallot, minced garlic and rosemary, salt, pepper, and few other ingredients together in a bowl.  This was the topping.

Next, I spread the shrimp out in the bottom of a 13″x9″ baking pan (I ignored the direction to artfully arrange the shrimp in a gratin pan out of respect for my sanity), covered them with little blobs of the butter mixture (spreading was impossible), and baked them for 12 minutes at 425 degrees.  After their baking time was up, I put the pan under the broiler for a minute to give the meal a nice, browned top.

So what did I think of this easy concoction?  Well, that it wasn’t too shabby.  But there are a few things I’d do differently.  First, I don’t think there’s any need to use that much butter.  At the most, I’d use a stick.  Also, one reviewer of the recipe mentioned leaving the panko out of the butter mixture and sprinkling it on top instead.  Having eaten the buttery, slightly moist breading, I think that reviewer has the right idea.  Sprinkling the panko on top would leave you with a crunchier topping, which would’ve added some texture to an otherwise mono-textured dish.

I think I’m going to need to do a few extra laps around the garden center to work this dinner off.  But, hey, I can’t say it wasn’t worth it.

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