Photo: Eric Wolfinger

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We love a cheese plate or bowl of potato chips as much as anyone else, but if you really want to make an impression, here are some amazing dishes to try from the influential cookbook author Paula Wolfert.

When it comes to appetizers, it's hard to beat Mediterranean cuisine, with its many varieties of olives, intriguing bean- and vegetable-based dips and flatbreads decked with a dizzying array of creative toppings. We have Paula Wolfert to thank for much of what we know about the region's food in America; she may not be a household name, but she has written nine cookbooks and was instrumental in bringing couscous and Moroccan clay-pot cooking as well as southern France specialties into our kitchens.

One of the most appealing things about Mediterranean dishes is their simplicity. Take this garlicky shrimp recipe, which is featured in the new book Unforgettable: The Bold Flavors of Paula Wolfert's Renegade Life, by Emily Kaiser Thelin. It's surprisingly uncomplicated: just shell-on shrimp (Wolfert likes the brininess they impart, though you can also use peeled) sautéed in nothing more than olive oil, garlic, red pepper flakes and Spanish smoked paprika. Serve with the rich oil that the dish is cooked in—and have crusty bread nearby!

Get the recipe: Sizzling Shrimp with Garlic and Pimentón