My stuffed shrimp is actually a copy cat recipe from an appetizer dish the Olive Garden Restaurant used to make about 10 years ago. I wish they would bring this dish back because it was my favorite. Of course, just about every thing Olive Garden makes is my favorite. With the pasta, garlic and tomatoes, it truly is a comfort food restaurant! My version of stuffed shrimp doesn't taste exactly like theirs, but I think it comes pretty close!
To make the stuffing, combine the following ingredients:
-3/4 cup finely rolled bread crumbs
-3/4 cup liquid margarine or softened butter (make sure you do not make the mistake of buying a non-fat liquid margarine--I know from experience and not paying attention, that this ruins the flavor)
-2 tablespoons finely chopped onion
-2 tablespoons finely chopped red pepper
-1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped (if you don't have fresh, substitute about 3/4 of a tablespoon dried)
-1/2 tablespoon minced garlic (or you can chop up the fresh stuff, but you will smell like garlic for a week or so)
-1/4 teaspoon basil
-1/4 teaspoon oregano
-3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese (do not try to use fresh, get the grated cheese that you find in the Italian foods section)
-23 ounces sliced ham, finely ground. This does require a meat grinder; finely chopping really does not do the trick. Also, you want to use the sandwich meat type ham here, not deli, honey or leftover baked ham. And, I know it's an odd amount, but 1.5 pounds was just a little too much so, I had to cut back and one ounce seemed to do the trick.
Once the shrimp stuffing is prepared, you can use as much or as little as you want for your appetizer, or as a main entree to your meal, and put the rest in the freezer.
Next, you will need approximately 20 shrimp for stuffing. I use peeled, deveined and cooked shrimp, but you can peel and cook them yourself or use the ones with the tail still on, as long as they are shelled. Whatever works for you.
Making the shrimp is the easy part. Preheat your oven to 500 degrees. Grease a baking dish or pan with butter, and arrange your shrimp about 1 inch apart. With a teaspoon, or a small melon scoop, place a small scoop of stuffing on top of each shrimp. Place the dish in the oven, and bake for 4-5 minutes. You can also place the shrimp under the broiler for 4-5 minutes, and your tops will get a little brown and crusty on top. Serve with warm bread or garlic toast.
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