Saturday, March 27, 2010

Spaghetti With Shrimp

Feb. 2010 275

I remember the first time my son ordered pasta with shellfish in Italy. We were seated at a restaurant overlooking the Adriatic sea with my husband’s cousin Ottavio and his wife Antonella. The pasta arrived and our then-teenage son Michael proceeded to sprinkle parmesan cheese over his plate, while Ottavio looked on in horror. Well, actually he did more than merely look on – he started barking in Italian that my son had committed the culinary equivalent of defacing Michelangelo’s Pieta.  We weren’t quite sure how to remedy things since the vile act had already been committed, but Antonella thankfully defused the situation, dismissing her husband’s outrage with this phrase: “Non ti preoccupare. E’ despota.” meaning “Don’t worry, he’s a despot.”

We all chuckled at the ice-breaker but needless to say, our son Michael now eats his pasta and shellfish without parmesan cheese, the way most Italians do. Rules are meant to be broken however, and there are still some seafood dishes where cheese is introduced. This is not one of them.    

Although this is particularly suited to the Lenten season, when many people are avoiding meat on Fridays, this is one of my standard go-to meals any time of year.  I’ve usually got shrimp in the freezer at all times, and my pantry is seldom without spaghetti and canned tomatoes. The hardest part is peeling and deveining the shrimp. Boil the water for the pasta while the sauce is cooking, and you’ve got dinner on the table in 30 minutes.

Sprinkle parmesan on top at your own peril.  Just remember that in the minds of some Italians , (and many despots), you’ll be committing culinary heresy if you do and may be forever banned from the dining table.

Feb. 2010 274

Spaghetti with shrimp

Printable recipe here

(Serves two)

1 15 oz. can tomatoes or tomato chunks

1 T. tomato paste

1/4 cup minced onion

2 cloves garlic

3 T. olive oil

dried or fresh basil

red pepper flakes, to taste

salt, pepper

1/2 cup dry white wine

about 10 uncooked and thawed shrimp

I use either whole tomatoes or tomato chunks because I prefer a sauce with more texture. If you like a smoother sauce, use pureed tomatoes. However, if you’re using whole tomatoes, crush them a little between your fingers.

Place the olive oil in a pan over low to medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté until onions are soft. Add the remaining ingredients except the shrimp. Let the sauce simmer over low heat for about 25 minutes or so.

In the meantime, pat the shrimp dry with a paper towel. Take the shells off and devein the shrimp. When the sauce has simmered for at least 25 minutes, add the raw shrimp. Cover the pot and let the shrimp cook in the sauce. They’ll need only a few minutes – five minutes at most. Serve over spaghetti or linguini.


  1. One of the easiest meals to prepare and also one of the tastiest! A big favourite of ours :-)

  2. I want this for breakfast! Your spaghetti with shrimp looks perfect and I love that serving bowl. Oh, and admittedly I have broken the cheese rule before... shame on me!

  3. I would like to imagine myself trying this dish overlooking the Adriatic Sea.

  4. Che buoni questi spaghetti con i gamberi, anche la foto è favolosa. Ciao Daniela.

  5. Love it! I will have to make this soon.

  6. YourNonCheeseUsingSonMarch 27, 2010 at 3:24 PM

    I like to add either capers or black olives when I make it.

  7. A scrumptious spaghetti dish! I'm drooling!



  8. Yes, the hardest part is shelling and deveining. I hate it! But to partake in such a tasty pasta one has to endure it! I laugh at what your son did my kids would probably do the same!

  9. One of my all time favorite go-to dishes. And I will serve Parmesan if someone asks - I just gently mention the no Parmesan on fish sort-of-rule.

  10. Ahaha I never use parmesan on seafood pasta, I have never seen it served in Italy either, but who knows maybe some people do! (pssssst, I think the flavors don't go together). Gorgeous spaghetti, who can say no to spaghetti with shrimps?

  11. This looks fabulous Linda...
    I have not made shrimp in a red sauce in a really long have inspired me...
    btw...your pics are wonderful. I could stick my fork in and just take a bite!

  12. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  13. Does it get any easier than this? I need to think outside the shrimp box a little more often. GREAT fast work night dinner. I have everything in the freezer/fridge.

  14. Your Non Cheese Using Son and I think alike, i also add capers and olives!

  15. I sometimes make this shrimp and do a lemon spaghetti - so good!

  16. My mother often made this dish on Fridays, especially during Lent. And, heaven forbid, anyone asked for the cheese, please!

  17. That looks good! I like the sound of using shrimp in spaghetti.

  18. Linda, that's pretty much how I like my pasta w/ seafood. I'm extending my plate for a refill!

  19. LOL! This rule is one of the first I learned from my Italian born husband. We use dried red pepper flakes on our fish dishes -- I've heard waiters call it the "Calabrese cheese"

    I love shrimp --I could eat them everyday!

  20. I just made shrimp fra diavolo last night with penne pasta. This seems very similar. The friend I had over was quite impressed w/ how easy it all was & the final product.