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This flavorful pasta dinner is 'shrimp-ly' delicious!

by Andrews McMeel Syndication | January 19, 2022 at 4:00 a.m.
This one-pot meal takes less than an hour to make.

Shrimp is the most popular seafood in the United States. These slightly sweet, mild-flavored crustaceans are full of interesting science. Take a deep dive into these shrimp-ly fascinating facts.

Shrimp change color when cooked

Most raw shrimp are a gray-black color. But when you cook them, they turn pink! Why the color change? Shrimp contain a pigment called astaxanthin ("ah-stuh-ZAN-thin") that is released when the shrimp reach about 120 degrees. Bonus fishy fact: Salmon have pink flesh because they eat shrimp and krill, a shrimp relative that contains the same pigment.

Shrimp come in lots of sizes

There are about 2,000 species of shrimp around the world, and humans eat around 300 of them -- from common whiteleg shrimp to beautiful royal red shrimp. Some species are harvested when they're super tiny, dried and used in all sorts of dishes, including soups, salads, and stir-fries. On the other hand, black tiger shrimp can grow as long as 13 inches!

The shell is full of flavor

Shrimp shells contain proteins, sugars, and compounds called glutamates ("GLUE-tah-mates") and nucleotides ("NEW-clee-oh-tides"), which have a savory umami taste. If you cook shrimp shells, their proteins and sugars undergo a special chemical reaction that gives them even more flavor. But peeling shrimp is a lot of work! In this recipe, we use peeled shrimp and add another ocean ingredient -- clam juice -- to boost this dish's salty seafood flavor.

For 25 years, home cooks have relied on America's Test Kitchen for rigorously tested recipes developed by professional test cooks and vetted by 60,000 at-home recipe testers. The family of brands -- which includes Cook's Illustrated, Cook's Country, and America's Test Kitchen Kids -- offers reliable recipes for cooks of all ages and skill levels. See more at www.americas


Makes: 4 servings

1 pound frozen peeled and deveined extra-large shrimp (21 to 25 per pound), thawed and tails removed

1/8 teaspoon pepper

1/2 teaspoon plus 3/4 teaspoon salt, measured separately

1 tablespoon plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, measured separately

6 to 8 garlic cloves, peeled and minced

1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes

3 cups water

2 cups chicken broth

1/2 cup clam juice

4 1/2 cups medium pasta shells (12 ounces)

1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest plus 2 tablespoons juice, zested and squeezed from 1 lemon

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

1. In a medium bowl, combine shrimp, pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Stir until shrimp are evenly coated.

2. In a Dutch oven, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high heat for 2 minutes (oil should be hot but not smoking). Add shrimp to pot and spread in a single layer. Cook shrimp, without stirring, until edges turn pink, about 1 minute.

3. Stir shrimp and cook until pink all over, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Turn off heat. Transfer shrimp to a large plate.

4. Add garlic, red pepper flakes, and the remaining 2 tablespoons oil to the pot. Cook over low heat, stirring often with clean rubber spatula, until garlic is just beginning to turn golden, 4-6 minutes.

5. Stir in water, broth, clam juice, pasta and remaining 3/4 teaspoon salt. Increase heat to medium-high and cook, stirring often, for 12 minutes.

6. Continue cooking, stirring constantly and scraping the bottom of the pot, until pasta is tender and sauce is thickened, 3 to 8 minutes longer. Turn off heat. (Sauce will continue to thicken as it cools.) Stir in lemon zest and juice, parsley and shrimp. Let sit until shrimp is heated through, 1-2 minutes. Serve.

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