Grilled Shrimp and Garlic-Stuffed Black Olive Skewers

This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

Your seafood shop will sell shrimp anywhere from “5 and unders” all the way to “50 and ups.” This refers to the average number of shrimp per pound. The most common size I use are 16/20s with an average of 18 shrimp per pound. This is an easy way to figure out how many shrimp to buy per person. Also try serving these skewers on top of a platter of Greek salad for lunch or a light supper. Metaxa is a sweet, dark Greek brandy. You can buy three-, five-, or sevenstar Metaxa, the number of stars indicating the number of years the brandy has been aged. The sevenstar version works just fine here, and it’s good for sipping, too. Any brandy will work in this marinade, but when Zorba the Greek is singing on the CD player, there’s nothing quite like a tall splash of Metaxa for the cook.

NotesA STEP AHEAD: Make the marinade a day or two ahead and store it, covered, in the refrigerator. A STEP AHEAD: Prepare the garlic-stuffed olives and skewer them with the shrimp a day ahead. Store the skewers, covered with plastic wrap. in the refrigerator. But don’t marinate them for more than 15 to 30 minutes before grilling.

Makes6 servings

Cooking Methodgrilling


Total Timeunder 2 hours

OccasionBuffet, Casual Dinner Party

Recipe Coursemain course

Dietary Considerationegg-free, gluten-free, lactose-free, low carb, peanut free, soy free, tree nut free


Mealdinner, lunch

Taste and Texturegarlicky, light, savory, spiced, tart

Type of Dishskewer


  • 18 garlic cloves, peeled
  • ¼ cup olive oil, plus oil for the grill
  • 18 large black olives, such as Kalamata, pitted
  • 18 large shrimp,about 1 pound, shelled and deveined, tails on 
  • Six 10-inch bamboo skewers, soaked in cold water for 30 minutes and drained
  • ½ recipe Greek Marinade
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ lemon
  • ½ recipe Parsley Salad
  • 1  tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon dried Greek oregano or other fragrant dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons freshly grated lemon zest
  • 3 tablespoons Metaxa brandy
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil


  1. Make the marinade: In a bowl, whisk together the garlic, oregano, zest, brandy, salt, and pepper. Gradually whisk in the olive oil. Makes about 1 1/4 cups.

  2. Put the garlic cloves in a small saucepan, cover with ¼ cup olive oil, and bring to a simmer over medium heat. As soon as the oil comes to a simmer, turn the heat to very low and cook the garlic, stirring occasionally, until soft and very lightly browned, 10 to 12 minutes.

  3. Drain the garlic cloves and set aside. Reserve the garlic oil for another use.

  4. Stuff each olive with a garlic clove, cutting the olive open a little if necessary.

  5. Nestle a stuffed olive into the curve of each shrimp. Thread 3 olive-stuffed shrimp onto each skewer. Be sure to pass the skewer first through the tail of the shrimp, then through the garlic-stuffed olive, then through the head of the shrimp so everything is securely skewered.

  6. Fire up the grill.

  7. Place the skewers in a nonreactive pan and cover them with the marinade. Marinate the skewers for 15 to 30 minutes. Remove the skewers from the pan, shaking off the excess marinade, and season them on both sides with salt and pepper.

  8. Brush the grill with oil. Grill the skewers over direct heat, with the lid off, turning them as needed, until cooked through, about 5 minutes.

  9. If you’re not sure whether they’re cooked through, take a skewer off the grill and cut into the thickest part of a shrimp with a small knife—it should be opaque all the way through. Squeeze the lemon over the skewers right before you take them from the grill.

  10. Pile the skewers on a platter and top with the parsley salad.

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