When I lived over in the South Park area of Charlotte, there were quite a few restaurants in the same complex as my apartment. While it was convenient to have Dean and Deluca for appetizers and desserts and Wolfgang’s Pizza within walking distance, oftentimes when I had visitors we’d try to venture out and explore new places. On one such time when my parents were in town, we decided to go across the street to South Park Mall and went to McCormick and Schmick’s for a drink and some small plates. We had such a good time – befriending the bartender (that’s where I tried Campari for the first time!) and watching golf, and having some great appetizers. Per the suggestion of our bartender, we ordered (among other plates) the Shrimp Kisses which were bacon wrapped shrimp stuffed with jack cheese – they were amazing.
Normally, cheese and seafood just do not go together, but in that instance it worked. Wanting to create something similar, I tried a spinach artichoke stuffed shrimp with bacon and cream cheese and the flavor was great. It couldn’t be more simple; just a few ingredients, but the result is perfect for a stunning appetizer. Wrap the bacon around the shrimp in a single layer to make sure that it cooks through and encloses the filling. A bit of the filling make sneak out during the baking, but if you’ve wrapped the shrimp tightly enough with the bacon, it should ensure that most of it stays in the shrimp.
- Half of a bag of spinach leaves
- Olive oil
- 4-5 artichoke hearts (mine were frozen from Trader Joe's - buy water-packed if you can find frozen)
- 4oz cream cheese, softened
- Salt and pepper
- 15-20 large shrimp, peeled, de-veined, and butterflied
- 10 strips of bacon, cut in half (20 pieces)
- In a medium sautee pan over medium heat, drizzle a little olive oil in then add the spinach. Cook until it's all been wilted down - 4-5 minutes. Remove from heat and when cooled, squeeze out excess water.
- Add the cooked spinach to a food processor (a mini one works great here!) along with the artichoke hearts. Pulse a few times to break everything up. Add the softened cream cheese and blend until creamy and combined. Season to taste with salt and pepper and blend until combined.
- Take the butterflied shrimp and place about 1-2 tsps of the spinach artichoke filling in the center. Fold the shrimp together and wrap in a slice of bacon to ensure most of the filling stays in. Secure with a toothpick. Repeat with remaining shrimp and place on a baking sheet.
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Bake the shrimp for 10-15 minutes, or until the bacon is browned. Serve immediately.