Between dips, nachos, and an assortment of crostini, it's hard for me to say what my signature appetizer is. However, the other day when I was discussing this with my sister, she said, "I know what your signature appetizer is: it's gambas!"

She was referring to gambas al ajillo, the classic Spanish tapa that combines sizzling pink shrimp with spicy, garlicky olive oil. It's always served with bread for mopping, meaning it's a dish that's somewhere between a dip and crostini. I quickly realized she was right: garlic shrimp are my signature appetizer.

I've made them more times than I could ever remember, and when I don't know what to serve, I always turn to the succulent gambas. It's a super easy, simple recipe that comes together quickly, so I highly recommend you add it to your arsenal. For my rendition of Spain's most flavorful and famous shrimp, read more.

Gambas al Ajillo

Gambas al Ajillo

Gambas al Ajillo Recipe 2010-04-07 18:52:27

Ingredients

10 cloves of garlic, peeled
1/2 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon smoked Spanish paprika (also known as Pimenton)
1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails left on
crusty bread or crostini, optional for serving

Directions

  1. Place the garlic cloves in a food processor. Using the pulse button, chop the garlic until finely minced.
  2. Transfer the garlic to an oven-safe dish (preferably a cazuela). Add the olive oil, red pepper flakes, and paprika. Stir to combine. Let the mixture sit at room temperature for 30 minutes and up to 2 hours.
  3. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Place the dish with the olive oil and garlic mixture in the oven. Heat for 4-5 minutes until the oil is hot and the garlic is starting to be fragrant.
  4. Add the shrimp and cook for 3-4 minutes.
  5. Flip the shrimp and baste with the oil. Continue cooking until the shrimp is plump and pink, 3-4 minutes more.
  6. Serve immediately with crusty bread or crostini for mopping. Enjoy!

Serves 6-8.