Seafood Appetizers

Grilled Shrimp Coated with Garlic and Herbs
Spicy Shrimp Appetizer
Fried Willapoint Oysters
        Shrimp Scampi; With Serving Options
  • Crostini, Phyllo Cups, Simply Plated with Lots of Sauce and Crusty Bread
Shrimp Scampi Crostini  
Shrimp Scampi Phyllo Triangles
Broiled Lemon Butter Shrimp
Claudio’s Stuffed Quahogs, by Jeanette Cataldo
Baked Stuffed Squid

Grilled Shrimp Coated with Garlic and Herbs
This is a variation of a dish common in coastal regions up and down Italy’s Adriatic Sea coast.  They just might be the perfect appetizer.  Shrimp is coated with a mixture of only 4 ingredients then threaded on skewers.  They are assembled well ahead and refrigerated until ready to quick grill.  Most impressive is their taste, incredible.

Although plain breadcrumbs seem to be favored in Italy with this dish, I prefer the added taste from seasoned bread crumbs.  If using plain, lightly salt coating. 

Grilling skewers are best for maximizing flavors but coated shrimp can be oven broiled on a tray without skewers.  Either way, try not to overcook. 

Bottom are the coated shrimp skewers.  Top, cooked shrimp piled high.  
  • 1 ½ pounds large shrimp (31-35 per pound)
  • 1/3rd cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
  • ¾ cup seasoned bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • Skewers
  • Lemon wedges 
Remove shells from the shrimp including tails; devein, rinse and thoroughly dry.

Stir olive oil and garlic in oversized bowl large enough to hold all ingredients.  Mix bread crumbs and parsley with the olive oil and garlic.  Mixture should be moist. 

Coat the shrimp by tossing.  Thread the shrimp onto skewers.  Try not to overcrowd.  Line them side by side on a sheet of plastic wrap or wax paper.  When finished, sprinkle leftover breadcrumb mixture over the skewers and lightly press onto the shrimp equally on both sides.  Seal the skewers in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least a few hours or overnight. 

Pre-heat the grill or broiler.  Medium char the first side, about 2 to 3 minutes pending heat intensity.  Flip over and cook until the shrimp is just cooked through, no longer translucent. 

Carefully removing shrimp from the skewers.  Serve with lemon wedges. 

Notes:  Although bamboo skewers are shown in the picture above, best using metal skewers sprayed with non-stick.

Spicy Shrimp Appetizer
Easy Eats
Shrimp is simply dry coated with “KENTUCKY KERNEL Seasoned Flour™” by Hodson Mills. 

Dredging applies just the right amount of seasoned flour while quick searing crisps the shrimp and locks in flavors.

Most important, unlike complicate recipes, shrimp’s delicate flavors are wonderfully enhanced and not overpowered.  It makes a simple and incredible great tasting appetizer that doesn’t require a dip.     
  • Large uncooked shrimp (31/35 per pound) for appetizers
  • KENTUCKY KERNEL Seasoned Flour™” by Hodson Mills
  • Cooking oil
Shell and devein shrimp; rinse and dry.

Dredge in seasoned flour.  Quick sear first side in medium hot oil to crisp and lock in the coating.  Flip once to finish.  Important, sauté until just cooked through.  Overcooked shrimp shrinks, dries and becomes tough. 

Place on a paper towel.  Serve immediately.

Optional, garnish with chopped flat Italian leaf parsley. 

Fried Willapoint Oysters
These container oysters may not quite duplicate the exotic flavors of fresh shucked but these quality oysters, dipped in buttermilk and dredged in a mixture of seasoned flour and cornstarch are an easy and satisfying treat for oyster lovers.   

Farm raised Willapoint oysters from the Pacific Northwest are periodically available in pint container at my local warehouse club and are relatively inexpensive.  This recipe is the same as the one I sometime use to fry New England clams.

Readied oysters (or clams) are simply soaked in buttermilk, dredged in the flour mixture and sautéed in oil until browned on both sides.   

In New England, fried clams or oysters are commonly served with tartar sauce.  The south often favors simple ranch dressing.  Regardless which sauce is accompanied,  I dip my folk in the sauce before snatching a clam or oyster so not to overpower them.

  • 1-pint shelled WellPoint oyster
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2/3rd cup KENTUCKY KERNEL Seasoned Flour™” by Hodson Mills
  • 1/3rd cup cornmeal
Follow instructions of the package of oysters; rinse oysters under cold water carefully inspecting and removing any shell fragments.

Soak oysters in buttermilk.  Wisk seasoned flour and cornmeal in a bowl. 

Lift oysters from buttermilk one at a time and coat oysters with flour mixture.  Sauté in your favorite oil until browned on both sides being careful not to burn.

Shrimp Scampi
So easy and Delicious
I love so many seafood appetizers, but Shrimp Scampi is my favorite. 

This simple and perfectly proportioned recipe for scampi sauce, garlic, scallions, lemon, butter, and olive oil lightly seasoned with salt and pepper balances so well with flavorful wild caught shrimp. 

Sauce ingredients are prepared in one pot.  Shrimp is coated in the sauce and quick broiled on both sides on a cookie sheet (see below for other options).

Finished scampi can be offered in a serving platter (pictured below), multiple shrimp plated over crispy crostini (shown left), over rice, tossed with pasta, in Phyllo cups, or individual shrimp crostini. 

Instead of broiling, coated shrimp can be baked in filo dough triangles.  Shrimp Scampi can also be cooked on puff pastry sheets, on flatbread sprinkled with feta cheese, etc. 
  • 1 1/4-pounds large wild-caught shrimp
  • 1 quarter pound of butter, one stick
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped scallions
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
  • Few grinds each of salt and pepper
  • Garnish with chopped Italian flat leaf parsley
  • Lemon quarters
Optional crostini
  • 3/8-inch baguette rounds lightly toasted on both sides.  
Remove shrimp shells, with or without tail section on and devein.  Rinse in cold water and pat dry.  Set them aside.

In a pot, large enough to comfortably hold all the shrimp and sauce, melt the butter over low heat.  Add olive oil lemon juice, scallions, garlic, salt, and pepper.  Cool to warm or room temperature.
Pre-heat the broiler.  Generously coat the shrimp in the sauce.  Place them in a rimmed cookie sheet large enough to hold them in a single layer.  (Tip, line them in rows to make it easier to flip them over with a long narrow spatula after their top side is broiled).  Evenly spread the scampi sauce over the shrimp.  

Broil them close to the heat for about three minutes or until the tops are pink but not cooked through.  Flip them over and broil briefly until just cooked through.  Try not to overcook them.

Finish with parsley and serve with lemon quarters.

Shrimp Scampi Phyllo Triangles
Shrimp scampi is baked in toasty phyllo triangles.  This eloquent appetizer is sure to impress your guests.  The left shows the first hot tray right out of the oven.  If you've never worked with phyllo, don't fret.  It's easy once you know the simple basics.    

Phyllo dough sheets are in the freezer section of your grocery store.  Review packaging instructions for defrosting. 

Each box has two sleeves of 20 rolled sheets.  Individual sheets are 9" by 14".  Keep sleeves refrigerated and sealed until ready to work with them.  Once unrolled, prevent them from drying by covering them with wax paper and a lightly moistened dish towel over the wax paper.  Also be careful not to get moisture onto the bare sheets.  Once you become proficient working with phyllo, you can eliminate using the wax paper and towel unless there is an interruption.

The recipe below will make 41 appetizers using both 20-sheet rolls.  Proportionally scale down for less.    
  • 41 large shrimp (there are about 33 large shrimp per pound)
  • 8 tablespoons butter (1 stick)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup chopped scallions
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
  • 1 tablespoon lemon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 box of phyllo (2 sleeves of 20 sheets each)
  • Sesame seeds, optional
  • melted butter and a pastry brush
Remove shells from shrimp and de-vein.  Rinse them in cold water and thoroughly dry.  

In a pot large enough to hold all of the shrimp, combine olive oil and 1 stick of butter over medium heat until butter is just melted.  Stir in scallions, garlic, lemon juice, and salt.  Remove from heat.  Cool too room temperature and mix in the shrimp.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Have the melted butter, pastry brush, wax paper, and a damp dish towel ready.  Unroll 1 sleeve of phyllo dough.  Peel and place one sheet on the working counter (9" side parallel to your body).  Lightly butter the top surface.  Add a second sheet over the first and butter.  Add the third sheet but don't butter.  Cover the original stack of sheets with the wax paper and the damp towel.  

With a sharp knife, cut three equal strips parallel to the long side (making 3" wide by 14" long strips). 

Scoop a shrimp and some of the mixture with a kitchen tablespoon and place it on the end of each of the three strips.  Fold each strip like you would a flag, diagonal to diagonal to the end of the strip, forming a triangle.  Place them with their seams down on a cookie sheet. 

Repeat with 3 more sheets, butter, cut, fill and fold.  Replenish the stack with the second roll of sheets when needed.  When finished, lightly brush butter on the top of the triangles and sprinkle with sesame seeds.  Bake for about 20 minutes or when Phyllo is toasted.  Cut into one to make sure shrimp is cooked through. 

Brush with warmed leftover scampi cooking sauce 

Note: above will create 39 phyllo triangles with two sheet of phyllo left over.  Tri-fold the last 2 sheets to make 41th total triangle.  


Broiled Lemon Butter Shrimp
Similar to scampi, this shrimp dish is flavored with seasoned lemon and butter without the intense flavors of onion and garlic. Assemble and quick broil. 

Offer them plated, on crostini or in phyllo cups with cocktails.  They can also be served as a starter dish over a crusty bread bruschetta, over orzo or rice made with chicken broth.     
  • 1 1/2- 2 pounds large shrimp
  • ¼ pound of butter (one stick)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • Juice of 1 medium lemon
  • Few grinds each of salt and pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped Italian flat leaf parsley
  • Garnish with lemon wedges and additional chopped parsley
Remove shrimp shells, with or without tail section on and devein.  Rinse in cold water and pat dry.  Set them aside.
In a pot, large enough to comfortably hold all ingredients, melt the butter over low heat.  Add olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper.  Remove from heat.  Cool to warm or room temperature.
Pre-heat the broiler.  Generously coat al the shrimp in the sauce.  Place them in a rimmed cookie sheet large enough to hold them in a single layer.  (Tip, line them in rows to make it easier to flip them over with a long narrow spatula after their top side is broiled).  Evenly spread the sauce over the shrimp.  
Broil them close to the heat for about three minutes or until the tops are pink but not cooked through.  Flip them over and broil briefly until just cooked through.  Try not to overcook them.

If desired, garnish with parsley and serve with lemon quarters and serve.

Claudio’s Stuffed Quahogs

by Jeanette Cataldo

Nancy and Jeanette’s dad Claudio was a chef at popular Italian restaurants in and around Boston’s North End.  Jeanette has always had a passion for cooking and preserving his original recipes and family traditions.  Preparing “Seven Fishes” served on Christmas Eve is an example.  

She often crafts homemade potato and ricotta gnocchi, ravioli, other homemade pastas.  Her Sunday Gravy, pesto, and Aglio e Olio are especially delicious.        

One of my favorites is her Stuffed Quahog recipe modeled after her dad’s.  It is systematically assembled with Ritz crackers, scallops, and a flavor base of chopped green pepper, garlic, and shallots.    

The original recipe is for a large crowd.  This is scaled down version and may need slight tweaking.  Any extra, bake in Pyrex.                      


  • 8 live Quahogs
  • 3-13 count sleeves of original Ritz cracker
  • ½ green bell pepper
  • 2 large garlic cloves
  • 1 shallot.
  • 1-pound bay scallops  
  • 1 can chopped clams
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 sticks butter
  • 1 egg whisked 
  • Salt and pepper
  • ¼ pound bacon cut into 1-inch lengths 
  • 2 tablespoon finely chopped parsley


Crush crackers in a zip lock bag or food processer. 

Rinse clams and steam in a pint of water.  Place clams in a bowl Immediately after they open.  Strain all liquid and reserve.  Once cool enough to handle, remove meat from clams and place in another bowl.  Break shells in half.

Coarsely chop steamed clams in a food processor with some of the reserved clam water to make processing easier.  Set aside

Finely chop pepper, shallots, and garlic.  Reserve.  Puree ½ pound of the scallops with clam liquid, creating a paste.    

In a large pan with high sides, melt butter and olive oil.  Sauté chopped vegetables, pureed and whole scallops, and total contents of canned clams.  Cook through while stirring, 8 to 10 minutes.    

Place Ritz crackers in a large bowl.  Mix with contents of sauté pan and with whisked egg.  Fold in saved clam water until stuffing is sufficiently moistened enough to hold together but not overly wet. 

Distribute clam meat equally among shells.  Generously top with stuffing mix, cap each with bacon strips. 

Bake in 425° oven for about 30 minutes, until stuffing is lightly browned and bacon slightly crisp.  Sprinkle with parsley and serve.          


Baked Stuffed Squid
Although stuffed squid is common in Italian households, I'm surprised how many friends have never tried them. 
Squid's tubular shape makes them the perfect candidate for stuffing.  Like shellfish, they secrete abundant flavor during cooking that enhances supporting ingredients especially tomato sauces.  I also suspect the diversity of stuffing were largely created by the availability of abundant and leftover ingredients.  Whatever the drivers, we're thankful.      

With many variations of ingredients, the four basic ways I like to prepare stuffed squid is baked in olive oil, baked in tomato sauce, simmered in  a pot of tomato sauce (served with pasta), and more recent, sautéed with a variety of mostly clear broth and sauces.

Mom's favorite was squid stuffed with day old bread flavored and baked in seasoned olive oil or a simple marinara sauce.  

  • 1 pound cleaned squid, preferably with tentacles
  • Pete's garlic oil made with 3/4 cup olive oil, 4 garlic cloves, 1 teaspoon Tuscany seasoning, small pinch red pepper flakes (please see Pete's Garlic Oil tab for cooking instructions) *
  • About 2 1/2 cups seasoned bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup grated parmigiana cheese
  • 1/3 cup coarsely chopped parsley
  • 2 eggs beaten
  • Marinara sauce made with 1 24-oz. can crushed plum tomato
* You can substitute by finely chopping garlic sautéed in olive oil but you won't have the incredible flavors of garlic and seasoning infused olive oil, nor the simulated taste of roasted garlic.  It's easy and is far worth the slight inconvenience.     
Prepare Pete's Garlic Oil using suggested proportions.  When ready, mash the garlic cloves in a half cup of the seasoned oil.  

Mix the bread crumbs, grated parmigiana cheese, and parsley in a large bowl.  Separately, beat the eggs with a tablespoon of the marinara sauce.

Add the olive oil, mashed garlic, and egg mixture with the bread crumbs.  Using surgical gloves incorporate together.  Fill each squid tube about half way with the mixture.  As the squid tubes cook, they will release their liquid and will shrink.  If overfilled, stuffing will ooze out.  Close the end of each tube with a toothpick.   

If purchased with tentacles, pending their size, cut them in half or in thirds.  Mix them into the marinara sauce.  Place a layer of the sauce and tentacles on the bottom of the roasting pan.  Add the squid tubes in a single layer and submerge with more sauce.  Cover with foil.  Place in a preheated 350º oven.  Check for doneness after about 25 minutes and frequently after.  Remember, they are ready when they just begin to firm.  If cooked longer, they will get rubbery. 

Remove toothpicks and serve.  CAUTION, make sure there aren't any loose toothpicks that might have fallen out of any tubes.  I always scan the squid tubes prior to serving to make sure all toothpicks are accounted for.

Simmer any leftover sauce until the tentacles are just cooked.  Like an Italian, eat it alone with hunks of crusty bread for dipping!