When the weather turns warm, my food desires change. Instead of heavy stews, I crave lighter dishes, like this shrimp pasta. It's a mainstay in our house from spring through fall, and sometimes in winter because we often have the ingredients on hand. It's a fairly simple dish full of fresh flavor from sweet shrimp to a hit of lemon with parsley for color and a vegetal note. If you love garlic, you can put in a lot. And if you find garlic can be overpowering, then just put in a little. It's up to you. Make this dish your own. Use a good olive oil as it's the base of your sauce, along with some reserved pasta water. If your olive oil is rancid or has some off-flavors, your sauce may not taste very good. Regarding the shrimp, you can absolutely buy pre-cooked shrimp. If you buy raw shrimp, choose a cooking method you find easy and season the shrimp only with salt and pepper. Our preferred cooking method is grilled. If we are using frozen shrimp and the weather is not good for grilling, we'll boil the shrimp in 4 cups of water and save the water to make soup or risotto later. As someone living with celiac disease, I am super picky about my gluten free pasta. Currently, Jovial is my favorite brand. My husband even prefers it over wheat pasta because the flavor is so good.
Lemony Shrimp Pasta with White Beans
6 ounces regular or gluten free pasta
1 tablespoon salt
1 pound large shrimp, shelled, deveined, and cooked
3-4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3-6 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 15-ounce can cannellini or Great Northern white beans, drained and rinsed
Zest of one lemon
Juice of 1 1/2 lemons
1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped fine
Extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste
- If you haven't cooked the shrimp, do that first.
- Fill a 4-quart or larger pot 3/4 full of water and stir in the tablespoon salt. Set over high heat, covered, and bring to a boil.
- While the water is heating, cut your cooked shrimp into bite-size pieces and set aside.
- In a shallow 10-inch or larger skillet add the olive oil, garlic, and red pepper flakes. Then turn on the heat to low to let the flavors meld and to ensure you won't burn the garlic.
- Once the water is boiling, add the pasta and cook for 30 seconds less than the package calls for. This helps ensure you will have al dente pasta.
- Add the shrimp and beans to the garlic mixture and continue cooking over low heat. Add a pinch of salt and a couple of grinds of black pepper. Stir to combine. We don't actually want to cook the shrimp any further. We do want to warm the shrimp and beans.
- While the pasta is cooking, have nearby a ladle and a heatproof 2-cup liquid measure cup. Ninety seconds before the pasta is finished cooking, reserve at least one cup of the pasta water. It is starchy from the pasta and is the base of your sauce.
- When the timer goes off, taste one piece of pasta. You want it to be chewy, not crunchy, and just shy of al dente. Why? Because the pasta gets cooked a little bit more. Drain the pasta. In the pot you cooked the pasta, add some olive oil and swirl it to coat the bottom of the pot. Add the pasta back to the pot and set over low heat.
- Add the shrimp-bean mixture to the pot, a couple of tablespoons of pasta water, the lemon juice, the lemon zest, and the parsley. Stir to combine. Keep stirring gently until the sauce thickens a bit. It's magical how pasta water transforms from watery to a sauce that nicely coats each piece of pasta. This part may take a minute or two so be patient. And you may need a little more pasta water if the sauce becomes too thick. Only add one tablespoon of pasta water between stirring sessions to avoid a watery mess.
- Serve warm in shallow bowls. Feel free to pass around some grated pecorino on the side if you'd like.