It only takes 20 minutes to make, but this skillet shrimp dish packs a huge punch of flavor into every single bite.

By Laura Rege
September 15, 2020
Shrimp Skillet with Fennel, Tomato Oil, and Kale Pesto
Credit: Caitlin Bensel

Take a quick peek in your cupboard, and chances are, you have a giant jug of olive oil and at least four different bottles of specialty vinegar that you just *had* to buy at that upscale food market a few years ago. Despite your best intentions, they now sit unopened, collecting dust in your pantry. (The good news is that, yes, vinegar does last that long.)

If you're feeling guilty about letting those impulse buys go unused, know that oil and vinegar are actually the unsung heroes of healthy cooking. “They bring out so many flavors that you wouldn’t otherwise taste right away,” says chef Misti Norris, of the Dallas restaurant Petra and the Beast, who uses the ingredients in unexpected ways.

For that reason, vinegar-infused recipes are sure to win over the dinner crowd, including this skillet shrimp dish. Packed with fennel, tomatoes, olives, and feta, this skillet shrimp dinner gets a punch of flavor from sherry vinegar, which has a slightly sweet taste that's less acidic and overpowering compared to other vinegar varieties. Plus, the skillet shrimp takes just 20 minutes to make, so you can have a restaurant-quality dinner even on the busiest of weeknights — and clear out your cupboards while you're at it.

Skillet Shrimp with Fennel, Tomato Oil, and Kale Pesto

Total time: 20 minutes

Serves: 4


  • 3 cups extra-virgin olive oil
  • 12 ounces cherry tomatoes
  • 1/2 large head fennel, cored and thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 pounds large shrimp (16 to 20), tails on, peeled
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 sprigs thyme
  • 1⁄2 cup kalamata olives
  • 3 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons sherry vinegar
  • 3 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced, plus 1 small clove, minced
  • 1 bunch kale, ribs removed, leaves torn into bite-size pieces
  • 1/2 cup crumbled sheep’s-milk feta, like Bulgarian or French


  1. In a large high-sided skillet, combine the oil, tomatoes, and fennel. Place over medium-high heat, and cook until the mixture starts to bubble all over. Reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer for 3 minutes.
  2. Season the shrimp with salt and pepper, and add to the skillet with the thyme, olives, 3 tablespoons vinegar, and thinly sliced garlic. Gently simmer over medium-low until shrimp are just cooked through, turning a few times to keep the shrimp submerged, about 3 minutes more. Remove from the heat.
  3. With a ladle, carefully remove 1/2 cup hot oil; transfer to a mini food processor. Add the kale, minced garlic, and remaining 2 teaspoons sherry vinegar. Pulse until finely chopped. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  4. Using a slotted spoon, remove the vegetables and shrimp from the oil, and divide among 4 plates. Drizzle with kale pesto. Sprinkle with feta, and serve.