Garlic Shrimp Spaghetti

garlic shrimp spaghetti

Garlic Shrimp Spaghetti.

Slippery strands of whole wheat pasta coated in a salty, spicy, very garlicky sauce, bolstered by sweet shrimp and a burst of lemon.

It’s what I served my dinner party guests a couple of weeks ago, and I made no apologies for giving them garlic breath.

It’s essentially spaghetti aglio olio with a seafood bonus.

It’s quick, it’s easy, and hard to believe but it’s actually pretty healthy.

This recipe is a paired down version of my favorite Lemony Shrimp Linguini, which is mouth-watering and fantastic, but hey sometimes a gal just doesn’t have time to make homemade lemon oil and gremolata breadcrumbs.

shrimp aglio olio pasta

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, or if we’ve hung out in real life for more than 5 minutes, you know that I love spaghetti. It’s what I like to eat when I’m happy and also when I need some comfort. Watching movie scenes with spaghetti makes me hungry – gosh just typing the word spaghetti makes me hungry!

My favorite kind to order at restaurants is something with a luxurious ingredient, like blue crab or bottarga or sea urchin. But at home, when I’m the one cooking, the simpler the spaghetti, the better. I like cooking with lots of garlic and only a few fresh ingredients. There’s something so satisfying about a hearty pasta dish that comes together quickly and simply.

spaghetti with shrimp and garlic

This dish hits all the right notes: it only requires a few basic ingredients that I always have in my kitchen: whole wheat pasta, shrimp (I like buying a bag of frozen cooked shrimp from Trader Joe’s – it’s already peeled with the tails off, so I just need to thaw and it’s ready), generous glugs of olive oil, lots of fresh garlic, chili pepper flakes, a lemon, and a tin of anchovies.

If you’re scared of anchovies, don’t be! When you melt it in a pool of garlic and olive oil, it doesn’t taste fishy at all, and only lends a salty umami taste. You can also substitute a tablespoon of anchovy paste which is more concentrated in flavor. You can omit it if you must, but you’ll lose a layer of flavor that I love in this pasta dish.

I served this with a side of roasted asparagus, and I bet roasted broccoli will work nicely too. You can even toss in the veggies with the pasta at the last minute. Right after transferring the spaghetti to a platter, I drizzled it with a little more olive oil (a trick I learned from watching Mario Batali). The extra EVOO (a tic I learned from watching Rachael Ray) makes the entire dish taste richer and adds a subtle note of nuttiness. Then I sprinkled coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper over the pasta, let it rain chopped parsley, and finished with dainty curls of lemon zest. It took me less than 30 minutes to prepare everything from start to finish, and I had a bright, filling, party-ready dish that my guests slurped up to the last noodle.

garlicky shrimp pasta

Yield: serves 8

Garlic Shrimp Spaghetti


1 lb whole wheat spaghetti
1/4 cup olive oil, plus 1 tablespoon for drizzling before serving
8 large garlic cloves, minced
1 (2 oz) tin anchovy fillets
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 lb cooked shrimp, peeled and tail off
1/4 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
salt and pepper to taste
juice and zest of half a lemon


  1. Cook spaghetti according to package directions.  Rinse pasta with cool water; set aside.
  2. Heat olive oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add garlic, anchovies, and red pepper flakes. Break up the anchovies with a wooden spoon until they melt into the oil and garlic mixture.
  3. Add shrimp to pan and cook for a couple of minutes, tossing so that the oil coats the shrimp. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Squeeze fresh lemon juice over shrimp.
  4. Add cooked pasta to pan, and toss.
  5. Transfer to a platter, making sure to get the last bits of garlic and oil from pan. Drizzle with about a tablespoon of olive oil, sprinkle with coarse salt and freshly ground pepper, top with parsley and lemon zest. Serve immediately.

garlicy shrimp spaghetti

Tell me: do you ever serve garlicky foods at a dinner party? And do you have a go-to spaghetti dish?


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