I just arrived in Greece for my annual summer visit and I am already overwhelmed by the flavors around me! I come from Thessaloniki, a city in northern Greece famed for its centuries-long multi-cultural history and cuisine. In fact, a Belgian friend of mine once described Thessaloniki as the city of "fragrant landmarks"! For her, a stroll through the buzzing city center meant recognizing her surroundings through the smells coming out of bakeries, restaurants, cafés and outdoors merchants. I never thought about it until then but she was so right and my recent trip here only confirms it. If you ever have the opportunity to visit Thessaloniki, you will enjoy a small but lively city packed with landmarks, outstanding restaurants and cafes, and a beautiful urban waterfront that's perfect for an evening promenade- here is a taste of it to entice you!
But getting back to food! It's always a striking reminder that cooking in Greece is still based on local availability and seasonality, so in the summer dishes include a lot of tomatoes, onions, summer veggies, herbs, and, of course, fish and seafood. One of my favorite ingredients is fresh shrimp, which you usually buy in Greece complete with the head and shell (you can use that shell to make the most tasty shrimp broth for a seafood trahanóto or kritharóto...I hope to share the recipe with you soon!).
Meals are light in the summer because of the hot weather (it's in the 90s this week!), so a shrimp pasta dish is always a family favorite. Just before leaving for Thessaloniki, I'd shared my own recipe with one of our summer interns to film for us. Louise-Audrey Zenezini, a college student and passionate photographer, worked with us last month to craft a few cooking videos, and she loved this easy-to-make recipe. Here's her version and the video below, using some of our authentic Greek goodies - Agrozimi hilopites with real eggs and milk (a traditional Greek pasta that looks like fettuccine), the handmade Sparoza cooking blend with herbs and lemon zest, and a nice dollop of Philippos Hellenic Goods organic extra virgin olive oil. I hope you try this dish, too, so that we can share a summer Greek meal across the miles!
1 lb shrimp, deveined
Cook the pasta in a big pot of boiling salted water for 6-7 minutes. Drain and keep some of the cooking water (approximately 1 cup).
In a large pan (large enough to add the pasta), heat a tablespoon of the olive oil to medium-high and add the herbs with the lemon zest. Stir for about a minute to let the fragrance come through, and then take the heat to high and add the shrimp. Sauté for about 1-2 minutes on each side. Add the pasta and half of the cooking water and give it a good stir. You can add more water if you feel your pasta is dry. Add the rest of the olive oil and remove from the heat. Mix well and enjoy!
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