Shrimp Fra Diavolo

A creamy spicy dreamy one pot dish perfect for a weeknight dinner

Two shrimp posts in a row? Yes indeedy.

I grew up on the Gulf Coast (Port Arthur, Texas, if you’re new to the blog) and there are few things I love as much as fresh shrimp from the Gulf.  We were all so lucky to have so much fresh seafood from the Gulf and shrimp was always my favorite. I may not always be able to get Gulf shrimp in Los Angeles, but I grab it when I can! Even when it’s not from the Gulf, though, shrimp is delicious and incredibly versatile. 

When you decide to get some shrimp, I recommend two pounds. Then, in one week, you can have two excellent dinners! Last week’s Spicy Sautéed Shrimp with Coconut Milk Rice, then a few nights later this delicious comforting shrimp pasta you can make in one pot.

Garlic Salad, Shrimp Fra Diavolo with Penne, and a crisp gin martini

If you can find fresh shrimp, get it with the shells. Yes, you will need to clean it, but cleaning shrimp is easy and you can make a quick shrimp stock that adds to the flavor of this dish.

Quick Shrimp Stock:

As you clean the shrimp, throw the shells and tails… and heads if they came with their heads… into a in a medium sized pot. Add roughly chopped onion and carrot, some garlic cloves, bay leaf, peppercorns… whatever you have in this arena is fine… bring to a boil then simmer 30 minutes. Drain well through a fine mesh sieve or cheesecloth. Voila! You have wonderful fresh shrimp stock you can use in this dish and/or freeze.


one small sweet onion, peeled, halved and sliced into half-rings

6 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced

1/2 cup white wine (even a cup is fine)

1 cup shrimp stock (or vegetable stock)

1 28 oz can diced or pureed tomatoes, San Marzano if possible

1 healthy squirt of anchovy paste (or two anchovy filets, rinsed)

1 t red pepper flakes

1 t oregano

salt and pepper

1 lemon, halved

1 lb penne (or pasta of choice)

1 lb shrimp, cleaned

1/2 cup cream

fresh chopped parsley for garnish and/or thinly sliced green onion, white and green parts


– Place the cleaned shrimp in a ziplock bag or bowl, toss with 1 t salt and let sit until the sauce is ready.

–  In a large deep skillet, gently sauté the onion in a glug or two of olive oil. This can take 10 min or so. When it is soft and starting to think about browning, add the sliced garlic. Toss and sauté, stirring, for a minute.

– Add the white wine and turn up to medium high. Let simmer and bubble and boil as the white wine burns off. When there is still a thin level of liquid in the pan, add the shrimp stock and bring to a boil. Then turn down to medium.

– Add the tomatoes, the anchovy paste, the spices and stir. Let simmer about 5 minutes to meld the flavors. Taste! You may, for instance, want some more red pepper if you like spice! (Remember also, the cream will temper it.) Squeeze both halves of the lemon over the sauce, then add the pasta. Mix well.

NOTE: discovering pasta can cook in sauce was a revelation to me. Not every pasta dish works best this way… Carbonara or Cacio y Pepe for instance… but so many do work great this way and you don’t have to wash and dry a pasta pot!

– If your skillet has a lid, cover the skillet. If not, cover as best you can with aluminum foil. Let cook about 6 minutes, remove the lid and check the pasta. Keep cooking until the pasta is almost done.

– Add the shrimp, toss and let cook a couple of minutes until the shrimp is close to finished. Add the cream, stir, and let cook a minute or two more until the pasta is al dente and your shrimp is cooked thru. Remember, shrimp cook fast so don’t over cook!

– Serve in bowls with Pecorino Romano and fresh chopped parsley on top. 

This is perfect with my garlic salad and, as pictured, a cold crisp gin martini.





4 thoughts on “Shrimp Fra Diavolo

  1. Tom, I made this tonight, and Keith and I LOVED it!! It had just the right amount of kick. I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to balance getting the pasta done without overcooking the shrimp, but your directions were spot on and it turned out perfectly!!!

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