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Baked Shrimp With Tomatillos

Shrimp baked in a sauce of chopped tomatillos, Cotija cheese, jalapeños, onions and garlic, tossed with cilantro and lime juice.

Baked Shrimp with Tomatillos
Elise Bauer

Some things taste so much better than they look.

This is an odd looking dish with the orangey pink shrimp and the light yellow-y green tomatillos, speckled here and there with white Cotija cheese and green cilantro. And you might be thinking, what kind of combination is that?

But hear me out.

This odd assortment of ingredients is just a Southwestern riff off a shrimp saganaki, which is typically made with feta and tomato sauce. One of the best received recipes on this site is for baked shrimp in tomato feta sauce. It just works.

Baked Shrimp Tomatillos
Elise Bauer

The onions and the shrimp provide the sweetness, the tomatillos or tomatoes the acidity, the Cotija queso seco or feta the saltiness, and the cilantro or parsley the bitter.

Wrap some in a flour tortilla and you practically have a shrimp quesadilla with salsa verde.

From the recipe archive, first published Sept 2010.

Baked Shrimp With Tomatillos

Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 40 mins
Total Time 55 mins
Servings 4 servings
Shrimp can be cooked either shell on or shell off. Cooking with the shell on will result in better flavor, but can be fussy to eat, as you have to pick off the shells as you eat them. Shelling and deveining the shrimp before cooking can add a good 10 minutes to prep time, but the resulting dish is easier to eat. This is a one pan dish, going from stove-top to oven, so use an oven-proof pan.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped, about 1 cup
  • 1-2 jalapeno chiles, seeded, minced
  • 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 lb tomatillos, chopped
  • Salt
  • 1/2 cup clam juice OR 1/4 cup water*
  • 1 pound shrimp, cleaned, deveined
  • 1 cup Cotija queso seco cheese (can substitute feta)
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • Lime juice
  • Black pepper
  • Flour tortillas, to serve
  • An oven-proof sauté pan or cast iron pan
  • *One time we made this we used tequila instead of clam juice, it was good too!

Method

  1. Sauté the onions and jalapeños:

    Heat oil in the pan you will use for baking. Add the onions and jalapeños, cook for 5 minutes on medium high until the onions begin to brown. Add the garlic and cook a minute more.

    baked-shrimp-tomatillos-method-1
    Elise Bauer
  2. Add tomatillos:

    Add the tomatillos, reduce heat to medium and cook for 10 minutes, until the tomatillos are cooked through, but still hold their shape. Sprinkle salt over the tomatillos as they are cooking.

    baked-shrimp-tomatillos-method-2
    Elise Bauer
  3. Add clam juice:

    If using clam juice, add to pan, turn up the heat and reduce by half. If using water, just add the 1/4 cup of water without reducing.

    baked-shrimp-tomatillos-method-3
    Elise Bauer
  4. Add cheese and shrimp, bake in oven:

    Add the cheese and shrimp. Cook in a preheated 425°F oven for 10 minutes.

    baked-shrimp-tomatillos-method-4
    Elise Bauer
    baked-shrimp-tomatillos-method-5
    Elise Bauer
  5. Serve with cilantro, lime juice, black pepper:

    Remove pan from the oven. If using a pan with a handle, such as a cast iron frying pan, I recommend cooling the handle with ice for safety; it's so easy to forget that pan has just come out of the oven, and you grab the hot handle by mistake.

    Right before serving, mix in the cilantro and sprinkle with lime juice and freshly ground black pepper.

Baked Shrimp with Tomatillos
Elise Bauer