published Wednesday, December 4th, 2013

Pair shrimp, sausage for easy party fare

Italian surf and turf with roasted red pepper sauce is a quick fix that requires only seven ingredients.
Italian surf and turf with roasted red pepper sauce is a quick fix that requires only seven ingredients.
Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

With the holidays getting into full swing, life for most of us is getting hectic. Between all the big meals, the parties, the kids needing treats for their classes, never mind our day jobs. Who has time for it all?

Well, this dish — an Italian take on surf and turf — will come to your rescue. It is ridiculously easy to make (especially if you use jarred roasted red peppers) and involves just seven ingredients (not counting salt and pepper).

Wrapping shrimp around a nugget of sausage was an idea Bruce Aidells talked about in his book, “Bruce Aidells’ Complete Sausage Book.” The two proteins meld wonderfully when baked. This is such an impressive trick and looks so clever, it makes the perfect appetizer or hors d’oeuvres for a holiday party.

Large shrimp and fresh Italian turkey sausage are preferred, but if you can only find smaller shrimp or another variety of turkey sausage, go for it. However, you will need to use fresh (not dried, cured or cooked) sausage for the shrimp and sausage to stick together.

You can gild this Italian surf and turf with a red pepper sauce. Pureed roasted red peppers make a thick, rich sauce all by themselves, but you can intensify the flavor with a bit of balsamic vinegar and extra-virgin olive oil. There are excellent brands of jarred roasted peppers at the supermarket, but avoid any packed in oil.

This red pepper sauce has many applications of its own. You could use it as a dip for raw vegetables or a sauce for roasted vegetables, pasta, sauteed mushrooms, polenta, steak, chicken or fish.

Italian Surf and Turf With Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

16 peeled and deveined large raw shrimp (about 8 to 10 ounces)

6 ounces hot or sweet Italian turkey sausage meat (about 2 links)

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

2 cloves garlic, minced, divided

1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano

Kosher salt and ground black pepper

1 cup roasted red peppers, drained and patted dry

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with kitchen parchment.

Arrange the shrimp on the prepared baking sheet with all of the shrimp facing the same direction to form a series of C’s. Remove the casings from the sausage, place a small mound of the sausage in the center of each shrimp and press down so that the shrimp and sausage filling make a solid round.

In a small bowl, combine 1 tablespoon of the olive oil with half the garlic and all of the oregano. Sprinkle the shrimp lightly with salt and pepper, then brush the oil mixture over the shrimp and sausage. Bake the stuffed shrimp until they are cooked through, about 8 to 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a blender combine the red peppers, the remaining tablespoon of oil, the remaining garlic, the vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste. Blend until smooth. Transfer to a small saucepan and heat just until hot.

To serve, arrange the shrimp on a serving platter, then drizzle each with some of the sauce.

Makes 16 shrimp.

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