Spicy Shrimp Parmesan Pasta Recipe

Pasta is a favorite go-to dish. What's easier than boiling some noodles and adding toppings? This dish, in fact, takes just a few minutes to prepare. While many believe that pasta originated in Italy, it probably appeared on Asian tables first, according to PBS. Now, a wide variety of cultures and countries appreciate the magical combination of flour and eggs (or sometimes water), and create their own versions of the well-loved food, from orzo (Greek) to pierogis (Polish) to spaetzle (German). 

Recipe developer Sher Castellano uses penne for this dish and adds traditional ingredients like grated Parmesan cheese, shrimp, garlic, sea salt, pepper, and olive oil. To offer a bit more spice, she adds red pepper flakes. One of the best parts of this recipe is the fact that it offers flexibility. "Gluten-free options are easy and doable," said Castellano. "Use whatever pasta you want, gluten-free, traditional flour, whole wheat, etc." You can also increase or decrease the spice factor depending on your personal taste. The same goes for the cheese and pepper — each bowl offers the individual a chance to customize.

Get your ingredients ready and start cooking

This recipe requires ingredients that are easy to find. You'll need a box of penne, a pound of raw shrimp (shelled and deveined), olive oil, minced garlic, red pepper flakes, grated Parmesan cheese, fine sea salt, and black pepper.

With the shrimp, you have a choice: leave the shells on while you're cooking them or peel them off before the cooking preparation starts. When left on during the simmering process, shells help the shrimp retain flavor and plump up its texture. Of course, that does mean you'll need to remove the shell at some point ... and that can become a messy endeavor.

The easiest way to make this recipe is to buy shrimp already shelled and deveined, but if you want to do it yourself, try using a fork. Place the utensil's bottom tine alongside the vein's start and move it along the shrimp's back toward the tail. You'll crack the hard exterior and remove the vein in one sweep, and the tail will basically slide off.

Boil water, then cook your pasta

The first step when making this recipe is to boil a medium pot of salted water and cook the eight ounces of penne according to the package instructions. Adding salt to the water enhances the pasta's flavor, and kosher or sea salt will work fine for this. Try putting it in when the water starts churning so the salt dissolves faster. If you're the forgetful type, feel free to toss all the ingredients in at once, even if the liquid is still cold. Just give the water an extra stir or two to ensure even distribution of the salt.

Olive oil and garlic makes everything taste better

When the pasta is finished, reserve half a cup of pasta water for later, and then drain the pot and set the penne aside. You want it to feel al dente — pasta that's cooked too long becomes gummy.

Next, you'll heat a skillet over a medium-low heat. Add in the olive oil and garlic and cook while continuously stirring. Otherwise, the garlic may burn. This should take roughly one minute. Take the shrimp and cook it in the flavored oil for three minutes or until it turns pink. Your kitchen will smell delicious. Remove the shrimp from the pan, but leave the liquid.

Time to make the sauce

Bring your attention to the remaining liquid in the pan, and allow it to simmer. Then add in the half-cup pasta water you saved, stir well, and cook for two minutes. Next comes the quarter teaspoon of red pepper flakes, quarter cup of Parmesan, half teaspoon of fine sea salt, and quarter teaspoon of black pepper. Mix it until thoroughly combined. You're almost at dinnertime: Just put in the penne and the shrimp, and toss everything to evenly coat. 

The dish is best served right away, hot and piping. Be sure to leave some grated cheese, pepper, and the red pepper flakes on the table. Everyone can customize their pasta with the flavor combination they prefer. Mangia!

Spicy Shrimp Parmesan Pasta Recipe
4.8 from 9 ratings
Pasta is a favorite go-to dish. What's easier than boiling some noodles and adding toppings? This dish, in fact, takes just a few minutes to prepare.
Prep Time
Cook Time
spicy shrimp pasta in bowl
Total time: 20 minutes
  • 8 ounces penne
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 pound raw shrimp, shelled and deveined
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes (more to taste)
  • ¼ cup Parmesan, grated (more to serve)
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper (more to serve)
  1. Boil a medium pot of salted water, and cook the penne to package instructions. Reserve ½ cup pasta water, drain, and set aside.
  2. Heat a skillet over medium-low heat. Add in the olive oil and garlic and cook for one minute while continuously stirring so the garlic doesn't burn. Add in the shrimp and cook for three minutes (or until pink). Remove the shrimp, leaving the liquid in the pan. Set the shrimp aside.
  3. Bring the cooking liquids to a simmer. Then add in the ½ cup of pasta water, stir, and simmer for two minutes. Then add in the pepper flakes, Parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper, and stir until combined. Add in the penne and the shrimp, and toss to coat.
  4. Serve with more grated cheese and black pepper.
Calories per Serving 376
Total Fat 7.2 g
Saturated Fat 2.3 g
Trans Fat 0.0 g
Cholesterol 188.9 mg
Total Carbohydrates 43.3 g
Dietary Fiber 1.9 g
Total Sugars 1.6 g
Sodium 429.0 mg
Protein 33.6 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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