Pasta with Shrimp

Having just returned from a visit with Zia, I decided I had better jot down this recipe while it was still fresh in my mind. This is one of those dishes that I never really think about while I’m preparing it. It just kinda happens. Besides, this wasn’t even the dinner I had planned.

I had intended all along to make  Trenette al Salmone for Zia during my visit. I should have brought smoked salmon with me but I was sure that I could get some in her area’s stores. Well, guess again. I went to her local groceries — “local” meaning 15 and 25 miles away, respectively, in opposite directions — and neither had smoked salmon. One of the stores happened to be running a special on large shrimp (25 – 30-ct), so I bought some and, under her watchful eye, I prepared dinner for us that night.

Like the smoked salmon dish, this is an easy meal to prepare. I prefer to use large, raw shrimp that are peeled, cleaned, and with tails removed. I cut them in half because they are otherwise too large to be eaten with pasta in a single bite, not to mention the larger the shrimp, the fewer to clean and prep. Where this dish differs from that of the smoked salmon, however, is that shrimp have a strong enough flavor that they won’t be overpowered by diced onion and garlic in the sauce. But for the onion and garlic, the same basic cream sauce is used in both dishes and neither uses cheese, as well. Remember, Italian recipes rarely, if ever, use cheese when seafood is a primary ingredient.

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Pasta with Shrimp Recipe


  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
  • 1 medium onion, chopped fine
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 lb large (25 – 30 ct) shrimp, cleaned, peeled, tails removed, cut in half
  • 1 lb cooked thin spaghetti
  • 3 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped, separated
  • salt & ground white pepper, to taste
  • reserved pasta water

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  1. Melt butter in a large, deep frying pan over med-high heat.
  2. Add onion and sauté until soft, about 3 minutes.
  3. Add garlic and continue sautéing for another minute.
  4. Add shrimp and sautéing for about 2 minutes. Shrimp should not be thoroughly cooked at this point.
  5. Add the cream and allow shrimp to finish cooking as the cream reduces slightly, about 2 – 3 minutes.
  6. Season with 2 tbsp of the parsley before adding the cooked spaghetti to the pan. Mix until the pasta is well-coated. If necessary, add a little of the reserved pasta water. Taste the dish and season with salt & pepper.
  7. Garnish with remaining tbsp of parsley and serve immediately.


You will find that different pastas, be they fresh or dried, absorb sauces at different rates. Reserving some of the starchy pasta water will help you deal with a “thirsty” batch of noodles or a sauce that was simmered too strongly and is a little dry. Not only that but the water, being starchy, can be used as somewhat of a thickening agent. Just bear in mind that the water is heavily salted, so, go easy on the salt until after you’ve added the pasta water.

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20 thoughts on “Pasta with Shrimp

    • I love ’em, too, Linda, and the “problem” I have with them all is that they’re so easy to prepare. Don’t know what’s for dinner? Well, in 30 minutes, or less, you can be sitting down to pasta smothered in some sort of rich cream sauce. Yeah, it’s good but you and your bike are going to see an awful lot of each other.


    • I agree in that no one is going to tell me what or how to eat at my own table. If I want cheese, I’m going to have cheese. Still, if I go out to an Italian restaurant, it’s good to know these “rules” and, having been to Italy, it is REALLY good to know them.


    • Thanks for your comments. The tomato background is a bit of an homage to my Grandfather whose tomatoes, and his efforts to grow them, took center stage each Summer at the old two-flat.


  1. Add fresh ingredients to your “clean” & simple” and you have the 3 keys to virtually all Italian cooking. It truly is a case of less is more. Thanks for stopping by and for your comments.


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    • Thank you. This is my kind of recipe: easy to follow with delicious results. I keep shrimp on-hand, in my freezer, and can whip this up in under a half-hour. It’s a favorite.


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    • Thank you. This is an easy dish to prepare and a favorite of mine. I’m always on the lookout for a sale on shrimp and, if I find one, it’s guaranteed that I’m fixing some sort of pasta with shrimp for dinner that night. Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment.


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