Improve your scampi game with this lively mash-up of two classic dishes
Imagine a one-pot shrimp pasta dish: a cross between a garlicky scampi and a zippy, lemony piccata, with a little bit of creamy sauce tossed in for good measure.
That’s what we envisioned when we started work on this recipe. We wanted tender, succulent shrimp and lots of rich, silky sauce balanced with just enough vibrant lemon and briny capers. The sauce needed to be fully flavored with garlic and white wine, but it also needed to support (not upstage) the star of the show: the shrimp.
We also wanted the recipe to work with everything from freshly caught shrimp to the frozen-aisle stuff. If you’re careful to buy the right thing, you can find excellent flash-frozen shrimp in many grocery stores. Look for individually quick frozen (IQF) shell-on shrimp that are wild caught in U.S. waters. They should be untreated, meaning the only ingredient listed on the package should be shrimp (not salt or additives such as sodium tripolyphosphate).
Our recipe for shrimp piccata pasta begins with using the shrimp shells to make a simple stock — why throw away all that flavor? Using the shells like this is an easy way to cook the flavor of shrimp into the sauce without ever having to worry about overcooking the shrimp themselves.
We then cooked the pasta in the garlicky shrimp stock, which made this a one-pot meal and allowed the starches from the pasta to thicken the cooking liquid, yielding a luscious, creamy sauce. When the pasta is just al dente, you add the seasoned shrimp and gently poach them for 2 minutes in the garlicky sauce.
Adding fresh, citrusy parsley, a squeeze of lemon juice along with grated lemon zest, and a sprinkling of capers provides just enough of an acidic counterpoint to balance the richness of the creamy sauce. Grated Parmesan adds a salty, savory finishing touch that takes this shrimp pasta from delicious to irresistible.
One-Pot Shrimp Piccata Pasta
1 pound extra-large shrimp (21 to 25 per pound), peeled, deveined, and tails removed, shells reserved
2 1/2 teaspoons table salt, divided