Prawns and shrimps (beware that the are different species) are probably the most widely consumed seafood, apart from fish, for good reasons. They are delicious, versatile, fairly easy to prepare and are found in abundance. Therefore, they could not be absent from the Cretan dinner table, as Crete is island surrounded by open seas. Note that term shrimp and prawns is usually used interchangeably and this applies to the present recipe; it can be executed with either prawns or shrimps. Now coming to the dish we are aiming for, the celebrated prawn saganaki (in Greek “garides saganaki“) is a kind of stir fry dish prepared in a low pan using plenty of fresh tomato juice, feta cheese and extra virgin olive oil and is usually topped with parsley. Yes, that’s right, this dish is a real feast of Cretan ingredients! Prawn saganaki is also a really versatile dish, as can be eaten as appetizer, starter or main and can be accompanied by wine, ouzo or raki. It is a typical example of summery Cretan and Greek island cuisine.
Small peeled prawns are ideal for executing this recipe
Prawns are crustaceans that are great sources of proteins, vitamins and minerals while having a very low fat content . Therefore, they qualify as really healthy food. Although being relatively high in cholesterol, this is counterbalanced by the high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids. Consequently, prawns are considered to provide lean proteins and healthy fats. They also contain good amounts of selenium, which is an important antioxidant. Last but not least, they contain good amounts of B family vitamins (B12, B1, B2 and B3), as well as iron, phosphorus, magnesium and potassium . In addition to the aforementioned health benefits, our dish also contains fresh tomato juice and uncooked extra virgin olive oil which also have great properties. Our prawns saganaki is a delicious dish, served as main or accompaniment, deserving a healthiness score of 2 out of 3 (🥑🥑).
The recipe below feeds approximately 4 people as a main dish. Cooking time is around 20 mins, consequently the time score is 1 out of 3 (⌛). We find the dish really tasty, healthy and evoking of Cretan summer and, therefore, give it an overall score of 3 out of 3 (😋😋). Note that the following recipe can be executed with prawns of any size whether peeled or unpeeled. We find that when using the smallest size of prawns their flavour is best diffused in the tomato sauce of the dish, so this is our favourite choice.
As said above, in our recipe we make use of peeled prawns of the smallest size. These are readily available everywhere and, therefore, the ingredients score is 1 out of 3 (🔎🔎). Although the resulting dish is delicious, the recipe only requires few ingredients as detailed below:
- 300 gr of prawns (preferably small and peeled).
- 450 gr of fresh tomato juice (or passata).
- 100 gr of feta cheese chopped in small cubes.
- Half a tea cup of extra virgin olive oil (should be always added at the end).
- A few grams of chopped parsley.
- A bit of pepper.
In terms of preparation score, it receives 1 out of 3 (🍳) as it is easy to prepare and is not time consuming. Follow the steps below:
- In a large low pan, pour the tomato juice (or the passata) and let it simmer in low fire for about 20 mins, until the moist of the juice is evaporated.
- In case you use dense passata, add a bit of water and stir it well in order to allow the sauce to cook.
- Add the prawns and stir thoroughly so that they mix well with the sauce and diffuse their taste. The bigger the prawns, the more you need to let them cook, but certainly not more than 2 mins. We cook our small prawns with the tomato sauce for maximum 1 min to avoid over-hardening them.
- Add the feta cubes and stir gently so that the cheese does not completely dissolve.
- Switch of the hob, add some pepper, the extra virgin olive oil and stir.
- Let the food sit for a couple of minutes, pour it onto a big deep plate and top it with chopped parsley.
It is important that olive oil is added the end of the cooking for two reasons: (1) it retains its full taste and (2) it retains all its nutritional value, some of which is destroyed with cooking.
Prawn saganaki on a large low pan ater being cooked
Serving and accompaniments
Prawn saganaki is brought to a different culinary level by just topping it with herbs, such as fresh origano or parsley. This makes it look even more Cretan and Mediterranean and apart from being moutwatering, it greatly pleases the eye.
Delicious prawns saganaki topped with fresh parsley
It is also worth mentioning that prawn saganaki is greatly accompanied with home cooked fries which can be dipped into the delicious tomato sauce. For a much healthier version of fries, you can use an air frier device.
A sheer delight: prawn saganaki served with home cooked fries.
Last but not least, prawn saganaki requires some bread to go with, preferably a healthy Cretan wholemeal bread. Cretan Healthy Life proposes a recipe for delicious Cretan wholemeal bread using a breadmaker or a more traditional Cretan hand made bread.
Recipe last edited: 19/04/2019
© Recipe and photos by Agisilaos Papadogiannis