Shrimp is the most popular seafood in America and we eat a lot of it, an estimated 4.6 pounds per person per year. This makes sense as it’s convenient to keep on hand in the freezer, easy to prepare, and adds a bit of elegance to a meal. I have a couple of go-to shrimp pasta dishes but this is an adaption of a New York Times recipe for shrimp and tomato pasta by Naz Deravian.
This recipe sort of closed the door on summer for me. I made it a week or so ago at the end of a sunny day but today it’s raining hard in Rome and there is a chill in the air. Goodbye fresh tomatoes and hello hearty pasta dishes and warming soups! But this was a good note to end on.
And remember to read the packaging carefully when buying shrimp as not all of it is good for people and the planet. Always choose wild over farmed shrimp not only because it tastes better but because shrimp farming is destroying mangroves.
According to the Environmentalist Paul Hawkens in his book “Regeneration: Ending the Climate Crisis in One Generation“, we’ve lost 50% of our mangrove forests since the 1980s. We need our mangroves. They not only protect our shorelines but they help combat the climate crisis by sequestering twice as much carbon as tropical forests. They also took millennia to create. Destroying them to build a shrimp farm turns a rich priceless carbon store into a carbon sink in a hurry. The overuse of antibiotics is also a persistent issue with farmed shrimp. So just skip it.
When buying wild, also make sure to buy sustainably caught shrimp. Check for certifications, including those from the Marine Stewardship Council. While 90% of the shrimp consumed in America is imported, it’s worth noting that according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Atlantic northern shrimp is currently off-limits in the United States. But pink shrimp, white shrimp, brown shrimp, and brown rock shrimp are all being fished in sustainable and regulated quantities in U.S. waters. Yay!
Pasta with shrimp, fresh tomatoes, and basil
I adapted this from a recipe in the New York Times for shrimp and tomato pasta by Naz Deravian.
- 1/2 pound (about 230 grams) of large shrimp, peeled, deveined, and chopped into 1/3s
- About 1 pound of fresh tomatoes (cherry or grape or any small one will do), cut into bite-size pieces
- A pinch of red pepper flakes
- 1 clove of garlic, minced
- 2-3 oil-cured anchovy fillets
- 250 grams of pasta (1/2 a standard box) – I used linguini but most shapes will work
- A small handful of basil leaves, torn
- Olive oil
- Optional: Colatura di alici – Italian anchovy sauce
- Cook the shrimp in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Season with salt or a splash or two of colatura di alici. Be careful not to overcook, about 3 or 4 minutes should do it.
- Remove the shrimp from the pan and discard the liquid.
- Cook the garlic, red pepper flakes, and anchovies in a few tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat until the anchovies dissolve and the garlic turns golden.
- Add the tomatoes and cook until the tomatoes start to break apart, then cook a little longer. Stir occasionally.
- Meanwhile, cook the pasta al dente.
- Add the shrimp to the tomatoes and mix together and cook briefly to combine flavors. Add more colatura or salt if needed.
- Drain the pasta, save some of the pasta water, and add the pasta to the tomatoes and shrimp.
- Toss over high heat for about 30 seconds to combine. Add more pasta water if needed.
- Add the basil and toss some more.
- Plate and serve.