A Quick, Easy and Healthy Dinner: Pasta With Shrimp and Garlic

Published on 09/26/2013 by


Pulling together a healthy and delicious weeknight dinner quickly can be a challenge but resorting to fast food or processed dinners is not the answer. This quick and easy recipe for pasta with shrimp and garlic is the perfect solution when time is tight and the family is hungry. Made with frozen cooked and peeled shrimp, it goes together in the time it takes to boil water and cook the pasta. Add a side salad and Italian bread for a meal or toss in some frozen peas for a one-bowl super supper.

Bowl of spaghetti with shrimp and garlic

Weeknights can be a hectic time but take-out dinners and processed meals can wreak havoc on your wallet and your waistline! This delicious and healthy pasta with shrimp dish can be on the table in under 20 minutes! The secret to this dish is to use frozen cooked and peeled shrimp, easily available in most grocery stores. Just thaw, toss with garlic, olive oil, butter and fresh parsley and you’ve got a fast shrimp scampi recipe in no time. A healthy combination of lean protein, complex carbohydrates, nutrient-rich fresh herbs and a small amount of good fat makes this an energy-boosting meal for students, athletes and busy professionals. With two growing teenage boys in my house, this is one of our “go to” dinner recipes that really delivers on those crazy busy school nights between practice and homework. Add a green salad, bread and you’re done!


1 pound (1 box or package) of pasta (spaghetti, fettuccini or linguini)

1 pound (1 bag) of frozen shrimp, cooked and peeled. Medium or large shrimp work well.

2 cloves of garlic, sliced thin or minced

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons salted butter

A handful of fresh Italian Parsley, rough chopped

1 cup frozen peas (optional)

Salt and fresh ground pepper


1. Put a large pot of water on to boil. (at least 4 quarts of water per pound of pasta)

2. Put the frozen shrimp in a colander and run lukewarm water over them to thaw.

It just takes a few minutes. Remove the tails and place the shrimp on a towel to dry.

3. When the water is at a rolling boil, add a heaping tablespoon of salt and drop in the pasta. Stir gently as the pasta softens until it is below the waterline and moving on its own. Set the timer to the time recommended on the package and stir every couple minutes to keep the pasta from sticking.

4. While the pasta is cooking, add 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, 2 tablespoons of butter and the garlic to a cold saucepan. Turn the heat to medium-high and sauté gently until the garlic is fragrant, about a minute or two. Don't let the garlic brown or burn or it will be bitter. Add the thawed, cooked shrimp and half of the fresh parsley. Season lightly with salt and fresh ground black pepper.

Toss gently to coat the shrimp and turn the heat to low. You want to warm the shrimp through being careful not to cook them. (they are already cooked and any additional cooking with make them tough.)

5. About a minute before the pasta is ready, reserve a 1/2 cup or so of the starchy pasta water and set aside.

6. If adding frozen peas, add them now. The frozen peas will slow the cooking process down so you’ll need to taste test your pasta for doneness. You may need to add an additional minute or two to the cooking time. By the time the pasta is done, the peas will be bright green and perfectly cooked.

7. When the pasta is al dente, cooked but still firm to the bite, drain it along with the peas, into a colander. Put the hot pasta back in the hot pot – off the heat or on low – and add the shrimp. Scrape the saucepan with a rubber spatula to get all the herb, garlic and buttery deliciousness out of the pan.  Toss together with the pasta until well coated. Add a splash of the reserved pasta water if it seems a bit dry. Add the last tablespoon of butter to create a silky smooth texture, toss in the remaining parsley, mix thoroughly and serve immediately.

As for the cheese...Italians generally do not add cheese to seafood dishes because the flavor is so delicate. However, if your family likes it that way, by all means add it! Buon appetito!



Christine Coughlan is the author, designer and publisher of http://www.MyFavoritePastaRecipes.com, your one-stop resource for pasta recipes, ideas, how-to and more! You'll find simple step-by-step recipes with beautiful images, helpful how-to videos, drool-worthy culinary tours, articles, timely seasonal inspiration and much more. Quick and easy one-dish dinner ideas, classic pasta and sauce combinations, rich and satisfying lasagnas, even an in depth video series on how to make fresh pasta by hand that will keep you coming back for more. To keep things flowing smoothly in your kitchen, look for her handy tips and timing techniques. From gathering your ingredients to garnishing your plate, you'll look like a seasoned pro. To check out more great pasta recipes, visit today!

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