I have such a weird relationship with shrimp. Most of the time I don’t like it, then suddenly, out of the blue, I get this really intense craving for it and I’m all like, “Who are you and where did you come from?” Well, when that craving hit last week, I whipped up this super fast and easy Blackened Shrimp Pasta, featuring a homemade blackened seasoning mix. If you want BIG flavor without a lot of work, this pasta is your answer.
Should I Use Fresh or Frozen Shrimp?
Fresh shrimp is always best, but for most people frozen is going to be the most readily available and cost effective. Either will work for this recipe. Frozen shrimp thaws quickly when placed in a colander with cool water running over it.
What Size Shrimp is Best for Blackened Shrimp Pasta?
When buying shrimp you’ll notice some numbers on the package (mine said 25/35), which refer to the size, or the number of shrimp per pound. The smaller the number, the larger the shrimp. I used 25/35 because that’s what was available that day, but I think I would have preferred to use 31/45 so that I could get more pieces and more shrimp per bite in my pasta.
Larger shrimp are prettier, of course, but since I was being budget conscious and only used 1/2 lb. shrimp, more pieces would have distributed the shrimp throughout the pasta better.
What Type of Pasta Should I Use?
I had angel hair pasta in my pantry, so I went ahead and used that, but this dish would work equally as well with just about any other shape of pasta. I think bowtie would be nice, as would penne, or fettuccine. The pasta is just the vehicle for the amazing spices and shrimp essence in this Blackened Shrimp Pasta, so the shape doesn’t matter so much. :)
Is This Blackened Shrimp Pasta Spicy?
I would call this shrimp pasta “medium” spicy, but sensitivity to heat does vary from person to person. I used a homemade Cajun Seasoning Blend in this recipe, which allows you to adjust the heat to your liking. If you want it less spicy, reduce the cayenne pepper by half. If you want it more spicy, add more cayenne pepper.
Blackened Shrimp Pasta
- 1 Tbsp smoked paprika ($0.30)
- 1 tsp thyme ($0.10)
- 1 tsp oregano ($0.10)
- 1/2 tsp cumin ($0.05)
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper ($0.03)
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder ($0.03)
- 1/4 tsp onion powder ($0.03)
- 1/4 tsp salt ($0.02)
- Freshly cracked pepper ($0.05)
- 1/2 lb peeled and deveigned shrimp ($4.31)
- 2 Tbsp butter ($0.25)
- 2 cloves garlic ($0.16)
- 15 oz can petite diced tomatoes ($1.09)
- 1/4 tsp salt ($0.02)
- 1/2 lb pasta ($0.50)
- 2-3 green onions, sliced ($0.17)
- Handful fresh parsley ($0.20)
- 1 lemon ($0.69)
- In a small bowl, combine the herbs and spices for the blackening seasoning. Rinse the shrimp under cool water, drain, and then pat dry with a paper towel. Sprinkle the blackening seasoning over the shrimp and stir to coat.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil for the pasta. Once boiling, add the pasta and cook until tender (7-10 minutes). Reserve about 1 cup of the starchy pasta water, then drain the pasta in a colander.
- While the pasta is cooking, mince the garlic and add it to a large skillet with the butter. Heat the butter and garlic over a medium flame until the butter starts to foam and sizzle. Continue to sauté the garlic in the sizzling butter for about one minute. Add the shrimp and sauté until they are opaque and slightly firm (3-5 minutes), then remove them from the skillet.
- Add the diced tomatoes (with juices) and about 1/2 cup of the pasta water to the skillet. Stir and cook over medium heat, dissolving the browned bits from the bottom of the skillet. Let the sauce simmer for 5-10 minutes, or until thickened slightly. Taste the sauce and add salt if needed (I added 1/4 tsp salt).
- Add the cooked and drained pasta to the skillet and toss with the sauce (add some of the remaining reserved pasta water, if needed, to loosen the pasta). Return the shrimp to the skillet and stir to combine.
- Slice the green onions and chop the parsley leaves. Sprinkle both over top. Serve with sliced lemon to squeeze over top.
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How to Make Blackened Shrimp Pasta – Step by Step Photos
Begin by preparing the blackening seasoning – In a small bowl stir together 1 Tbsp smoked paprika, 1 tsp thyme, 1 tsp oregano, 1/2 tsp cumin, 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper, 1/4 tsp garlic powder, 1/4 tsp onion powder, 1/4 tsp salt, and some freshly cracked pepper (about 20 cranks of a pepper mill).
Rinse 1/2 lb. peeled and deveined shrimp under cool water, let them drain, then pat dry with a paper towel (that helps the seasoning stick). I used 25/35 size shrimp, but I think a 31/45 might have been even better. Smaller pieces means more pieces throughout the pasta.
Pour the prepared seasoning over the shrimp and stir until they’re well coated.
Bring a pot of water to a boil for the pasta. Once boiling, add 1/2 lb. pasta and cook until tender. Reserve about one cup of the starchy water before draining the pasta in a colander. I used angel hair pasta, but you could use just about any shape for this dish. When using a long pasta, like spaghetti or angel hair, I find it helps to break it in half before cooking. It makes stirring in large pieces, like shrimp or diced tomatoes, a LOT easier.
While the pasta is cooking, get started on the shrimp and sauce. Mince two cloves of garlic and add them to a large skillet with 2 Tbsp butter. You really do need to use butter for this recipe to get that authentic “blackened” flavor. Heat the butter and garlic over medium heat until it starts to foam and sizzle, then continue to sauté for about a minute to cook out the raw garlic flavor.
Next, add the seasoned shrimp and continue to sauté until the shrimp are opaque and slightly firm. Shrimp cook very fast, so this should only take about 3-5 minutes depending on the size of your shrimp. It’s important not to over cook the shrimp because the longer you let shrimp sit on the heat, the more the proteins contract, and the more firm and rubbery they become. So, remove them from the skillet as soon as they turn opaque and firm up.
Now you’ve got all these fantastic browned butter and seasoning drippings stuck to the skillet. We NEED that flavor, so we’ll be deglazing the skillet…
Add a 15oz. can of petite diced tomatoes (with the juices) and about 1/2 cup of that starchy pasta cooking water. Stir to dissolve that good stuff off the skillet. Fire roasted diced tomatoes would also be awesome with this, but I don’t think anyone makes them in a petite dice, so you’ll have larger tomato pieces.
Let the sauce simmer for a few minutes to reduce and thicken. Taste the sauce and add a little salt if needed (I added 1/4 tsp salt).
Add the cooked and drained pasta to the skillet and toss until it’s coated with the sauce. Add a little bit more of the reserved pasta water, if needed, to help loosen the pasta (but don’t add a lot or you’ll thin out the sauce too much).
Finally, return the cooked shrimp to the skillet and stir to combine with the pasta and sauce.
Slice a couple green onions, chop a handful of parsley leaves, and slice a lemon.
Sprinkle the parsley and green onions over the pasta and serve with the lemon slices.
Wowza, that Blackened Shrimp Pasta is NOT foolin’ around.