Shrimp and pasta are a dinner party staple in my Southern kitchen, especially this time of year. The sauce in this comforting classic has a welcome refreshment after heavy winter foods, for which shrimp provides the perfect complement.
I didn’t get a handwritten recipe for shrimp and pasta. I was told How to make it in great detail, I wrote later what I remembered. While I had a better memory at the time and may have written the instructions well, I was not given exact amounts of any of the ingredients.
As the years went by, I developed a sense of how much of this and how much of that goes into this dish. But the truth is, my recipe can handle some improvisation. As long as you stick to the basic bones, you can use whatever ketchup and ketchup you have on hand.
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This recipe for shrimp and noodles takes me back to a point in my life when I started branching out and trying new cuisines like Indian, Thai and sushi. Up until that point, I basically ate what I grew up eating.
Excitement to learn how to cook things that I he did not do Eating made me more confident in the kitchen, and I wanted to share my new passion with everyone. Before long, Sunday brunches and casual dinner parties for family and friends became a thing in my house. In fact, I served up this shrimp and pasta when I hosted my first encounter, complete with Chianti in those basket-wrapped little bottles.
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I’m not saying I thought of shrimp as weird or even something different from the norm. I’m from the South, so I grew up eating shrimp and seafood at home. but we didn’t You have The shrimp in my house are like them You have Shrimp down at the Bayou La Battery. Don’t get me wrong: My mom collected a ton of shrimp, but she would never have dreamed of putting shrimp in spaghetti.
You won’t need anything more than a simple green salad and a crispy bread to make this meal complete. Whatever you serve on the side, I promise you’ll love the shrimp and pasta.
Tomato and tomato sauce
I was told to use 2 cans of tomato sauce and 1 can of tomatoes. There are plenty of tomato sauces to choose from in grocery stores today – just reach for what you want. In the latest batch of shrimp and pasta, I added a fancy jar of pizza sauce – it was delicious. I also had a couple of wonderful home-grown tomatoes, so I included them as well. The most important thing is to stick to the same 2:1 ratio of sauce to tomatoes.
Use small to medium wild-caught shrimp that are peeled and cleaned. The only dance you have to master in this recipe is when to add spaghetti and shrimp to the sauce.
It varies a lot from person to person as to when the shrimp are fully cooked. The fact is that the shrimp will continue to cook a little even after this dish is removed from the heat. Do not be afraid. Simply taste the shrimp as soon as you think it’s done and lower the heat once you’re satisfied.
Another thing I learned from my time at Bayou La Batre was to soak the peeled and deveined shrimp in milk while chopping and preparing everything for this dish (or any shrimp dish, for that matter). Let them soak for about an hour, if possible. Milk takes away any “funky” taste from shrimp.
Feel free to use any type of spaghetti you like, whether that means traditional, gluten-free, or grain-free. But don’t use pasta in place of thick pasta or thin angel hair pasta. You want the pasta to absorb the flavor of the sauce and still hold up.
Only cook your pasta to doneness because the pasta will cook a little more once you add it to the sauce. Finally, rinse the cooked pasta only briefly. You don’t want them to cool the sauce too much when you combine it.
As with many shrimp dishes, celery is important in this recipe. Although they cook well without any obvious crunch, they add a bright extra layer of flavor to the more popular red sauce.
Use a sharp knife when chopping celery to prevent “strings.” With a little care, you can prevent this from happening.
Most of the time, I have fresh herbs in my kitchen. I reach for those, but it’s not a big deal if you’re using a desiccant. I generally use more than is needed (as I do with garlic). Use as much as you like. (Remember: you can always add more, but you can’t subtract.)
The Recipe: Gulf Coast Shrimp and Pasta
- 1 large bell pepper (any color), pitted and chopped
- 2 medium onions chopped
- 3 celery stalks, minced
- 1-4 garlic cloves, finely minced
- 2 cans tomato sauce
- 1 can tomato
- 1-2 teaspoons sugar
- 2 pounds of small to medium wild-caught shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 1 pound spaghetti
- fresh basil
- fresh parsley
- Olive oil (or preferred oil) for frying onions, peppers and celery
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Optional: Parmesan cheese and red pepper flakes
Saute onions in 1-2 tablespoons of oil over low heat until very soft and mostly translucent. Add the paprika and celery and continue to cook until soft and the onions are slightly brown.
Add cans of tomato sauce, tomatoes, 1 teaspoon of sugar, chopped garlic and some herbs.
Cook on very low heat for 30 minutes. *
*If you are also cooking on a gas stove, you may need to turn off the heat for a few minutes here and there to prevent the sauce from burning as it boils. (It’s ideal to let the sauce simmer long and slow so the flavors have time to come together.)
Adjust spices (herbs, sugar), adding salt and pepper to taste.
While the sauce is simmering, cook the spaghetti (according to the directions on the package), rinse briefly and set aside.
In a colander, rinse shrimp and set aside.
Add pasta and shrimp to the sauce. Simmer over very low heat until shrimp is tender.
To serve, add a little Parmesan, some red pepper flakes to heat and a drizzle of your best olive oil.
Start with a teaspoon of sugar. If the sauce is too acidic/sour, add a little more. I’ve never had to add more than 2 teaspoons of sugar, but adjust taste as needed.
The rule of thumb for serving shrimp is 1/2 pound per person, but the said rule doesn’t really apply here. This is a delicious dish – you can easily serve 6 people with 2 pounds of shrimp.
If you are using fresh herbs, reserve some to add after serving.
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