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Tomato and Chili Shrimp with The Ultimate Focaccia

Tomato and Chili Shrimp with The Ultimate Focaccia

Renée Robinson

Fluffy Focaccia and Juicy Shrimp Make for an Irresistible Meal!

This meal began with the focaccia. As anyone who bakes bread is aware, focaccia is one of the easiest of all breads to bake. I’ve made it many times and have used many different recipes. I’ve never made one I didn’t like, although I do have my favorites. When Paul Hollywood’s new cookbook Bake arrived, I knew I’d be making his version titled The Ultimate Focaccia. It’s studded with sliced red onions, tomatoes and olives, and sprinkled with only oregano and flaky salt. Rather than the kalamata olives called for in the recipe, I used big soft oil-cured black olives. 

As I got to thinking about what I wanted to serve with it, I kept going back to shrimp in a soupy tomato sauce. I didn’t want a marinara or anything of that nature. I wanted the sauce to be light, full flavored, and more fresh tasting than a tomato pasta-type sauce. I wanted it to be the right consistency for sopping up with the focaccia – more juicy than saucy.

As I was peeling the shrimp, it occurred to me that I should use the shells to make a quick shrimp stock. It only took maybe 10 minutes and added tons of flavor to the finished dish. 

Naturally, I wanted it to complement the flavors of the focaccia, so I kept it simple. No need for exotic spicing with this. To keep it light, I chose to chop up a couple cartons of grape tomatoes and use those as the base. Along with onion and garlic, I added sweet Calabrian chili powder. It doesn’t pack much heat. It’s more about the sweetness of the red peppers from which it’s derived. The reserved shrimp stock, a minced Fresno chili, some lemon juice and parsley rounded it out and finished it off perfectly.

Fresh Tomatoes

Whenever I make shrimp, my major concern is overcooking. In order to prevent that, I waited until the sauce was done, added the shrimp to the pan, covered it and turned the heat to the lowest setting. I only left the skillet on the burner for 2 minutes. I then moved the skillet off the heat and let it sit for another 4 minutes and the shrimp were perfectly cooked. The exact length of time will depend on the size of your shrimp. Just keep checking and remove the lid as soon as they look like they’re almost done. The residual heat will finish them off.

Now, what did I think of Paul’s focaccia? It’s most definitely a good one. It rises well, is easy to work with and isn’t fussy.

Rising Ultimate Focaccia

He instructs you not to bake it until it’s deeply colored, as I normally do, saying the inside should be soft and light. I was concerned I wouldn’t get a good crisp bottom, but I was wrong. The bottom and sides are wonderfully crisp, the flavor is great, and the texture is really beautiful. It’s soft, but chewy. Just like a good focaccia should be. And it couldn’t have been more perfect for sopping up those tomatoey shrimp juices. I have provided a link to his recipe below.

Ultimate Focaccia

Tomato and Chili Shrimp with The Ultimate Focaccia

Recipe by Renée Robinson



Shrimp with Tomatoes and Calabrian Chili Powder served with Focaccia

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  • The Ultimate Focaccia by Paul Hollywood
  • Here is the link to The Ultimate Focaccia Recipe:

  • Tomato Chili Shrimp
  • 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided

  • 1/3 cup dry white wine

  • 1 1/4 cups water

  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped

  • 2 large garlic cloves, peeled and smashed

  • 1 Fresno chili pepper, finely chopped

  • 1 tablespoon Calabrian sweet chili powder

  • 2 pints grape tomatoes, finely chopped

  • Kosher salt

  • Black pepper, freshly ground

  • 2 pounds large shrimp, peeled and cleaned, saving the shells

  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

  • 2 tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley


  • Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium high heat. Add the shrimp shells. Stir until they turn dark pink. Add the wine and cook until it’s almost evaporated. Add 1 1/4 cups of water, lower heat and let simmer for 10 minutes. Strain out the shells and reserve the broth. You should have 3/4 cup.
  • Over medium heat, warm the olive oil in a very large skillet or brasier. The one I used is 14 inches in diameter. Add the onions, garlic and a generous pinch of salt. Cook until thoroughly softened, but don’t let the onions brown. Remove the garlic cloves. Add the chili powder, stir for 1 minute.
  • Add the chopped tomatoes, and cook for about 5 minutes, until they start to break down, adding another pinch of salt. Stir in all the reserved shrimp stock. Let simmer for about 10 minutes, until it’s saucy looking. Turn the heat down to low. Stir in the minced chili, add the shrimp and cover the pan. Cook for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and let sit for another 4 minutes. If all the shrimp are not yet cooked, stir, cover and put back on the burner over low hear for another minute or two, being careful not to overcook the shrimp. Stir in the lemon juice and taste for seasoning, adding plenty of black pepper. Top with a drizzle of more olive oil, the parsley and serve with the focaccia. Enjoy!

6 Responses

  1. I made this exactly as written, except I couldn’t fine the Calabrian chili powder and I substituted red Chile flakes. This was delicious and the focaccia was a great accompaniment. I just discovered this blog and I’m glad I did. Great flavor profile!!

    1. Hi, Stephanie. Welcome aboard! So happy you enjoyed both the shrimp and focaccia. Thanks so much for letting me know!

  2. This may be a stupid question (I know, no such thing… LOL!) but the instructions state “Transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool”. Is this in or out of the pan? TYIA

  3. Hi, Renee,
    I want to make this for a dinner party this weekend. I am confused about what a large freezer bag is. Is this a zip lock? Or something else? Also, my main dish will be chicken in red wine vinegar. Will these flavors go together favorably?

    1. Yeah, I ignored the giant freezer bag instructions and just covered it with plastic wrap. It was fine. Your meal sounds great!

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