Log In / Join Now

Three's a Charm: Shrimp Appetizers for Summer's End

Throw a party where shellfish takes center stage in a variety of dishes

Lizzie Munro
Posted: September 13, 2013

When it comes to small plates for parties, there's no reason to feel limited to the classic standbys. A single base ingredient can yield multiple dishes perfect for entertaining—and accommodate a wide range of wine pairings. Whether you choose to try one, two or all three of the recipes below, we hope that they add a little variety to your menu.

When I entertain guests, I’m a sucker for a good cheese plate: It’s versatile, easy to assemble and allows for a wide range of wine pairings. But as summer winds down and cool-weather nostalgia for ripe yellow peaches and just-picked basil kicks in, it’s nice to abandon your everyday fallbacks in favor of appetizers that are bright, fresh and colorful.

While this approach requires a touch more hands-on time than unwrapping a round of Camembert, the recipes don’t need to be difficult. (In fact, for you to enjoy your own party, they shouldn’t be.) Shrimp are a great canvas for a variety of late-summer produce; all the easy-to-prep dishes here feature a make-ahead component and require only minimal time spent with a knife and cutting board.

The first recipe, a roasted shrimp cocktail, features a riff on a green goddess sauce, a creamy dressing brightened by handfuls of fresh herbs. In this version, tangy Greek yogurt and mayonnaise are blended with avocado, basil and lime juice to keep the dish fresh, while the final addition of prepared horseradish brings a mild kick and just enough vinegar to keep this dressing light on its feet.

The other two dishes are great fits for the grill. A shrimp salad with avocado incorporates roasted corn and red bell pepper; it can be served in ramekins or small mason jars if you’re keen on appetizer-sized portions. The pancetta-wrapped honey-glazed shrimp is topped with a peach and bell pepper salsa.

This trio of recipes offers the opportunity for three distinct wine pairings. A savory and herbal Sauvignon Blanc from Mendoza provided a backbone for the assertive basil and avocado dressing and helped to marry the flavors of the shrimp cocktail.

A crisp, Tuscan white with moderate length proved an ideal pairing for the salad. Made from the indigenous Vernaccia grape, the wine’s sharp acidity played off the creamy avocado, and the crisp apple flavors brought out the sweetness of the shrimp and vegetables.

Finally, the grilled shrimp with honey glaze found its match in a juicy German Riesling from the Mosel, with notes of peach, mineral and candied citrus. Echoing the fruit flavors in the salsa, the wine offset the crisp, fresh red bell pepper and highlighted the savory, slightly charred flavors of the grilled pancetta.

Recipe Photo Gallery

Photo by Lizzie Munro Photo by Lizzie Munro Photo by Lizzie Munro
Photo by Lizzie Munro Photo by Lizzie Munro Photo by Lizzie Munro

Photographs by Lizzie Munro; click any thumbnail image to open the slideshow.

 

Roasted Shrimp Cocktail with Creamy Basil and Avocado Dressing


Pair with an herbal Sauvignon Blanc, such as Bodegas y Viñedos O. Fournier Sauvignon Blanc Uco Valley Bcrux 2012 (87 points, $19)


For the shrimp

  • 2 pounds large, raw shrimp, peeled and deveined (12 to 15 count)
  • Olive oil

Preheat oven to 425° F. In a large bowl, toss the shrimp with a few tablespoons of olive oil to coat, and season with salt and pepper. Spread the shrimp in an even layer on a baking sheet and roast for 6 to 7 minutes until cooked through. Allow the shrimp to cool before serving. Serves 6.

For the sauce

  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves, lightly packed
  • 2 tablespoons minced chives
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice, plus one teaspoon
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon prepared horseradish, plus one teaspoon
  • 1/2 avocado

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Store in the refrigerator until ready to use. (The sauce can be made several hours ahead of time.) Yields about three cups.

 

Shrimp Salad with Corn, Roasted Bell Pepper and Avocado


Pair with a crisp Tuscan white, such as Riccardo Falchini Vernaccia di San Gimignano Vigna a Solatio 2011 (88, $15)


  • 1 pound large, raw shrimp, peeled and deveined (12 to 15 count)
  • 1 ear corn, husked and cleaned
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup red onion, diced
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons cilantro leaves, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 avocado, cut into 1/2-inch chunks

1. Preheat oven to 425° F. In a large bowl, toss the shrimp with a few tablespoons of olive oil to coat and season with salt and pepper. Spread the shrimp in an even layer on a baking sheet, and roast for 6 to 7 minutes until cooked through. Set aside.

2. Preheat grill to high and brush the corn with just enough oil to coat. Place the corn on the grate alongside the red bell pepper and grill, turning often, until the corn is lightly charred. Remove from grill and allow to cool.

3. Turn the pepper on the grill until charred on all sides, then place in a brown paper bag. Seal the bag by folding the top downward, and let the pepper cool for 20 to 30 minutes.

4. When the pepper is cool enough to handle, scrape away the skin using the back of a knife. Don’t rinse the pepper under water, but do remove the stem and seeds. Finely dice the pepper.

5. Cut the kernels from the corn and place in a bowl with the shrimp (halved lengthwise or chopped, if desired), roasted red bell pepper and remaining ingredients. Season to taste with salt and pepper and keep refrigerated until ready to serve. (Can be made several hours ahead of time.) Serves 6 to 8.

 

Grilled Pancetta-Wrapped Shrimp with Peach and Red Bell Pepper Salsa


Pair with a Mosel Riesling such as Bischöfliche Weingüter Trier Riesling QbA Mosel DOM 2011 (89, $17)


For the grilled pancetta-wrapped shrimp

  • 2 pounds large, raw shrimp, peeled and deveined (12-15 count)
  • 25 to 30 thin slices of pancetta
  • olive oil or vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • long wooden skewers, for grilling, soaked in water for 30 minutes

1. Preheat grill to medium-high heat. Wrap a slice of pancetta around each of the shrimp and skewer with either one or two wooden skewers (two makes for especially easy handling). Place the shrimp on a baking sheet and brush lightly with oil on either side.

2. In a small bowl, mix the honey with 1 to 2 tablespoons of water, and blend with a whisk or a fork. Set aside.

3. When the grill is hot, grill the shrimp for about 3 minutes on the first side, until beginning to brown. Flip the shrimp and baste with the honey glaze. After another 3 to 4 minutes, when the shrimp are cooked through, remove them from the fire and baste once more with the glaze. Serve warm, with peach and bell pepper salsa. Serves 6.

For the peach and red bell pepper salsa

  • 1 cup red bell pepper, finely chopped (approximately one large red bell pepper)
  • 2/3 cup peach, finely chopped (approximately one to two peaches)
  • 1/3 cup red onion, diced
  • 3 tablespoons cilantro leaves, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons neutrally flavored oil, such as vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lime juice

In a bowl, combine all ingredients and season with salt and pepper. Refrigerate until ready to use. (The salsa can be made several hours ahead of time.)

B Johnson
Edmond, OK —  July 30, 2014 7:42pm ET
We prepared the Shrimp Salad with Corn, Roasted Bell Pepper and Avocado this evening. Perfect for a summer rainy (or dry, for that matter) evening. We paired it with a Sean Minor 2012 Sauvignon Blanc. Wonderful!

Would you like to comment? Want to join or start a discussion?

Become a WineSpectator.com member and you can!
To protect the quality of our conversations, only members may submit comments. Member benefits include access to more than 315,000 reviews in our Wine Ratings Search; a first look at ratings in our Insider, Advance and Tasting Highlights; Value Wines; the Personal Wine List/My Cellar tool, hundreds of wine-friendly recipes and more.

WineRatings+ app: Download now for 340,000+ ratings.