Shrimp scampi is probably my favorite meal when I long for nothing more than to toss a few ingredients into a hot, sizzling pan, and have a comforting, cozy, belly-warming, and spirit-lifting dinner only moments later.
What is Shrimp Scampi?
I've always had a real love affair with very simple pasta dishes, the ones that feature tender pasta cooked to al dente perfection with only a few rather alluring ingredients.
Shrimp scampi is a delightful combination of everything I love in a good pasta dish.
Olive oil and/or butter, white wine, lots of garlic, a dash of fresh herbs, and perhaps a bit of brightness from a squeeze of fresh lemon, are the perfect ingredients for a stellar pasta recipe—add shrimp, and that's when it becomes a favorite!
But "scampi" is actually the name of an edible lobster found in the Mediterranean and northeastern Atlantic; it also goes by the name of "Dublin Bay Prawn", or "Norway Lobster".
Evidently, there was a time when scampi was hard to find, so shrimp was used instead.
"Shrimp scampi", as a pasta dish, is what ultimately became the popular menu item here in the United States.
How to Make Shrimp Scampi
The wonderful thing about a shrimp scampi recipe is that it is a very easy recipe to prepare, with only a few basic ingredients that lend a lot of depth and richness.
Medium-size peeled and deveined shrimp are the best choice for scampi, because there is little work with them other than to season and sear them off.
And the other ingredients that bring the aroma to the dish—ingredients such as shallots, garlic, red pepper flakes, white wine, chicken stock and a little butter—really only need a few moments together to sort of "melt" into each other and marry, and create that desired richness and flavor.
The kind of pasta you use is entirely up to you—angel hair is great, or even bucatini or linguini. But for me, spaghetti offers just the right amount of a "bite" for a shrimp scampi pasta because it doesn't get lost in the sauce, yet also doesn't overbear.
Here's a quick overview of my own shrimp scampi recipe:
- Begin by seasoning your peeled and deveined shrimp, then sear them off in a very hot pan and set aside.
- Add to that same pan your aromatics—the shallots, garlic, and red pepper flakes (if you're using them)—and very quickly allow them to cook, just until they become aromatic, about 30 seconds or so.
- Next, add in the white wine, stock, lemon juice and butter (it will melt in), and allow those liquids to simmer together for a moment or two.
- When your sauce has just slightly reduced, add your shrimp back into the pan, along with your cooked pasta, and toss those together to combine and coat in the sauce
- For the finishing touch, sprinkle with fresh herbs and enjoy!
(You'll find the full recipe below...)
Tips & Tidbits for Shrimp Scampi:
- Already peeled and deveined shrimp for ease: I like to buy peeled and deveined medium-size shrimp for scampi, as it saves time and energy—a plus when you're hungry!
- Your preferred white wine: Sauvignon blanc is the type of white wine that I like to use for this dish, but you can use chardonnay, pinot grigio, or your preferred kind.
- Cook your pasta first and have it ready to go: You can very quickly prepare this simple shrimp scampi recipe by having all your ingredients ready to go, including your pasta; simply cook it before starting, and keep it warm, then add it in when ready.
- Simple re-heating: Leftovers can easily be reheated by either placing them into an oven-safe container and covering with foil, then baking for about 20 minutes at 350°-375°; or, re-heat your shrimp scampi in a skillet, with a touch of olive oil, or even white wine, my favorite.
Feast your eyes on these, or just jump to the recipe:
by Ingrid Beer
Yield: Serves 4
Nutrition Info: 486 calories
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes (includes pasta cooking time)
Total time: 30 minutes
• 1 pound peeled and deveined shrimp (medium size, 21/25 count)
• Black pepper
• 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
• Olive oil (2-3 tablespoons)
• 2 shallots, minced
• 6 cloves garlic, pressed through garlic press
• Pinch red pepper flakes (more if you like it more spicy!)
• ½ cup white wine (Sauvignon Blanc is good)
• Juice of ½ lemon
• ½ cup warm homemade chicken stock (or “Better Than Bouillon” organic, is good)
• 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
• 8 ounces spaghetti (or angel hair) pasta, cooked according to package instructions, and held warm
• ¼ cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
• 1 teaspoon lemon zest
• Shaved parmesan, for garnish
-Place the shrimp into a bowl, and add a couple of good pinches of salt and pepper, plus the Italian seasoning, and toss to coat.
-Place a large skillet or pan over medium-high heat, and drizzle in about 2-3 tablespoons of the olive oil; once hot, add in the shrimp, working in batches if necessary, and allow them to sear for about 1 - 2 minutes per side, or until slightly golden and cooked through; remove with slotted spoon into a bowl to hold, and repeat until all shrimp have been seared.
-Into that same pan add another good drizzle of olive oil, then add in the shallot, garlic and red pepper flakes, and stir just until they become aromatic, about 20-30 seconds; then add in the wine, lemon juice, chicken stock, and butter, and stir, allowing the butter to melt in, and the sauce to boil and reduce down for about 3-4 minutes; turn off the heat.
-Add the shrimp back into the pan, along with the cooked pasta, plus the parsley and lemon zest, and toss everything with tongs to coat well; add a couple of pinches of salt/pepper, as needed.
-Serve while fresh and hot, topped with a little parmesan, if desired, and some crusty bread on the side.
Cook’s Note: This post was originally published in 2015, and has been updated with even more love!