I bet nothing screams Mediterranean seafood more than shrimp pasta!
Besides ice cream, shrimp is one thing I like to keep stocked in my freezer. Shrimp are super quick to thaw, you can buy them already cleaned and deveined, and most importantly, they really cook fast. It’s hard to beat that!
Shrimp are a great source of lean protein, vitamins, and minerals, and I personally think they should be on your table at least twice a month.
I love having shrimp on hand for those days when I do not know what to cook. I just use them for some easy blackened shrimp tacos or I combine them with pasta and make a dish like this one: creamy mozzarella shrimp pasta.
I have made many recipes with shrimp, like seafood pesto and shrimp tacos, but this one really stands out.
There is something magical when you combine penne pasta, shrimp, and mozzarella cheese. The dish is further enriched with juicy tomatoes. If you have some fresh basil, then you will take this dish to absolute perfection.
Let’s get cooking!
How to Pick Perfect Shrimp
Shrimp is a very popular seafood, but as there are different species and different methods of preserving them, they can be fantastically confusing.
Peeled, deveined, tail-on or tailless…these are just some of the types you can find, and we haven’t gotten to size options yet.
1. Pick a Size
The first thing to know when buying shrimp is picking the size you want. A shrimp size is measured by the number of individual shrimps it takes to make up a pound.
A label of 18/20 means that there are between 18 to 20 shrimps in a pound. Sometimes, there’s a shorthand mark; for example “U10” which means there are fewer than 10 of these shrimp in a pound.
2. Be Sure it’s Fresh in Quality
After you choose size, it is time to check the freshness.
With frozen shrimp all you can do is to check the label and the expiration date.
With fresh shrimps there are few things to look out for. First you want to look at the overall appearance and smell. You do not want any shrimps that smell like ammonia!
You will also want to avoid any shrimp that are limp, slimy, or falling apart.
Also, look over any black spots on the shrimps. Those spots are called melanosis and show the oxidation levels. Just like with browning avocados or apples, this is not a sign that these shrimp are bad, but it is a sign that they could be fresher.
3. Fresh or Frozen Shrimps?
This decision is very simple.
If you have an access to fresh shrimp, go buy them to get food of the very best quality. If you do not have access, frozen will still work like magic.
Which Pasta to Use
For this recipe I used plain penne pasta, but you can also use whole wheat or desired type of pasta.
But there are some rules you will want to follow, for this and any other pasta dish:
Short pasta, like penne, fusilli, or bow ties is used when you have larger ingredients that will be tossed with pasta and sauce, like this dish. This type of pasta, as you may have noticed, has either the appropriate shapes or small crannies that help capture the sauce.
These pastas are perfect for this mozzarella shrimp pasta dish. So if you want, you can use fusilli or bow tie. Just make sure you cook them in a pot of salted water that is according to some cooks, has to be salty like the sea.
Long pasta, like spaghetti and linguine, is used for dishes that call for a silky sauce, like tomato sauce, or in dishes where the pasta needs to catch only a little of the ingredients, like ground meat. So, if you are making pasta Bolognese, choose linguine or spaghetti.
Which Tomatoes to Use
Fresh or sun-dried cherry tomatoes are great choices for this dish.
I went with fresh cherry tomatoes because I had some in my fridge, but if you have sun-dried packed in oil those will be perfect too.
There are no rules at this point. Just choose the ingredient you have available that best fits your personal preferences.
Which Mozzarella to Choose
Mozzarella that is pre-shredded, comes in a log shape, or as mozzarella balls in brine – there are a lot of options out there.
I always use fresh mozzarella in a log as this has a proper amount of moisture. The pre-shredded mozzarella may be too dry while the mozzarella in brine may bring too much liquid.
You can use mozzarella from cow’s milk or buffalo’s milk, however, based on your preferences.
How To Make a Creamy Mozzarella Shrimp Pasta
Begin cooking pasta according to package instructions.
Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a skillet.
Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add shrimp and cook for 1 minute per side. Remove the shrimp and place aside.
In the same skillet, add cherry tomatoes and cook until soft.
Add cream (half and half) and bring to a simmer.
Add spices and mozzarella cheese.
Cook until cheese melts.
Drain pasta and add to the cheese sauce. Add shrimp and toss to combine.
Serve warm, sprinkled with fresh chopped basil, red pepper flakes, or desired herbs.
- 4 oz penne pasta
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- ½ lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 3oz cherry tomatoes, seeded, chopped
- ½ cup cream (half-and-half)
- ½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- ¼ tsp Italian herbs
- ¼ tsp red pepper flakes
- ¼ cup reserved pasta cooking water
- Salt, to taste
- Begin cooking pasta according to package instructions.
- Heat olive oil in a skillet.
- Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add shrimp and cook for 1 minute per side. Remove the shrimp and place aside.
- In the same skillet, add cherry tomatoes and cook until soft.
- Add half cream and bring to a simmer.
- Add spices and mozzarella cheese. Cook until cheese melts.
- Drain pasta and add to the cheese sauce. Add shrimp and toss to combine.
- Serve warm, sprinkled with fresh chopped basil, red pepper flakes, or desired herbs.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 2 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 589Total Fat: 35gSaturated Fat: 18gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 15gCholesterol: 320mgSodium: 1536mgCarbohydrates: 30gFiber: 2gSugar: 4gProtein: 37g
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