CHEF JEFF: One Byte At A Time — Baked Shrimp Parmesan

A good sauce can turn an otherwise mediocre dish into one of excellence. And in the case of an entree that already features mouth-watering ingredients, it’s a bonus.

For example, take baby back pork ribs, in which the barbecue sauce can be the make-or-break difference. The same is true with entrees such as chicken Alfredo or eggs Benedict (Hollandaise sauce).

The following recipe for Baked Shrimp Parmesan is another fine example of how a good sauce can lift a dish to another level.

The sauce here is called arriabatta, which translated from Italian means “in the angry style.” It includes olive oil, tomato paste, tomatoes, garlic, basil and hot red pepper flakes among its ingredients. (The more red pepper flakes you use, the angrier the sauce.)

After trying the sauce for the first time, I would have to say the combination of the aforementioned ingredients was definitely a palate pleaser.

Along with the shrimp and cheeses, the sauce helps create a dish that would go well with pasta, rice or freshly baked bread.

Baked Shrimp Parmesan 
1 pound large shrimp (26 to 30 count), deveined with tails off
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
1½ cups Arriabatta sauce
1½ to 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
Chopped fresh parsley, for garnish
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Pat the shrimp dry with paper towels.
Grease a large nonstick baking sheet with olive oil and spread shrimp out in one layer.
Season them with salt and pepper. Top each shrimp with a scant tablespoon of sauce then about a tablespoon of mozzarella, going back over them if needed to use up all the cheese.
Sprinkle the Parmesan over them and then drizzle lightly with olive oil.
Bake 12 to16 minutes, you can pull out one of the shrimp to test it and see if it’s done.
Heat the broiler and with the oven door open broil for 1 to 3 minutes, keeping a close eye on them, until the tops are browned
Sprinkle with parsley and serve with cooked pasta, rice or with crusty bread and a salad.
Yield: Serves 4.

Arriabatta Sauce
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon dried basil
½ cup tomato paste
1 tablespoon hot red-pepper flakes
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1½ cups chopped tomatoes
1 clove garlic, minced (optional)
Put olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat, and then add the tomato paste, basil, garlic and pepper flakes; reduce the heat to low and stir just until fragrant, about 4 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, and remove from the heat.

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