Thursday, April 10, 2014

Busy Day Pasta with Creamy Shrimp Sauce

A busy day.  You know the sort of day.  The hours just seemed to fly by: packed with work, errands, phone calls and writing or what-have-you.  Suddenly, you look at the clock and realize, "Oh NO, it is almost dinner time."  You realize your hungry family will be expecting to have a meal soon - and you have nothing planned.  Nothing.  What can you do?

This is unfortunately a common scenario in my home - even more so, now that I get immersed in writing or blogging projects.  Just a few weeks ago, I looked up from the computer and realized with horror that it was after six o’clock, I hadn't grocery shopped all week, and I had no plan for dinner.

A look in my pantry and some creativity saved the day.  I proceeded to throw together what I hoped would be a palatable and satisfying meal from the ingredients I had on hand.  In the process, I realized it might actually even border on great - and decided to take a few photos.  I rationalized that if it was delicious, not only would my family enjoy it - but I could write about it!  Multi-tasking, right?!

The recipe did turn out to be a good one, as well as ultra-easy, requiring quite staple ingredients that can be modified with whatever you actually have on hand.  The hardest part was giving it a name, before I could write about it though.  Why do I struggle so much to come up with titles?  I decided to just call it “Busy Day Pasta with Creamy Shrimp Sauce."

I have made this recipe twice now, and my family enjoyed it both times.  The second time was from memory during our spring break vacation in California.  The ingredients were something we could easily purchase and use up during the short time we were there, and the vacation rental home kitchen was stocked with all of the minimal cooking tools needed.  I hope if you try this recipe, you will enjoy it as much as we have!

Here are most of the ingredients you will need for this recipe, although the cream was still in the fridge when this photo was taken! Oh, and a disclaimer! I am not attempting to endorse any particular brands - I just happened to have shopped at one particular store for most of these ingredients.   The green blobs are my frozen homemade pesto.

My Recipe: Busy Day Pasta with Creamy Shrimp Sauce

Note:  Quantities are suggestions, and can be modified as you desire
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil (enough to coat pan)
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 red pepper, seeded, cut in quarters and then sliced fairly thin
  • 1 clove garlic (optional if using pesto)
  • 2 tablespoons pesto*
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1/3 lb. (or more if you prefer) shrimp (fresh or frozen, but thawed)
  • 1/3 cup half and half (or whole cream)  
  • 12 - 16 oz spaghetti or linguine noodles
  • salt and pepper
  • Shredded Parmesan cheese (optional)

Don't hesitate to make substitutions, such as:
  • chicken instead of shrimp 
  • any color of pepper would be fine
  • add canned or fresh, sliced mushrooms for even more flavor … 
  • Italian herb seasonings are available from various different vendors, or you can make your own combination of dried oregano, parsley, basil or whatever herbs you prefer.
*A note on Pesto:
You can use either store bought or homemade in this recipe.  I like to freeze my homemade pesto, shaped into 1 tbsp. balls.  I add these to sauces while still frozen.

  1. Fill a large pot with water, and bring to a boil.
  2. While water is heating, chop onion and pepper, and mince the garlic.  If necessary, continue thawing shrimp under cold running water, and remove tails.
  3. Heat olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat.  Add onion, red pepper and garlic and sauté until nearly soft.
  4. Add pesto (or Italian spices) and can of diced tomatoes with juice.  Simmer about 5 minutes.   
  5. Once water comes to a boil, add pasta and cook according to directions.
  6. Just before pasta is done, add shrimp to tomato sauce and cook until just cooked (if using fresh) and heated through.  Try not overcook the shrimp!
  7. Drain pasta.  Stir cream into sauce.  Season with salt as desired.
  8. Serve pasta with sauce, freshly ground pepper and shredded Parmesan cheese.

A nice accompaniment would be a salad and bread, if you have the time and the ingredients.

Voila!  “Busy Day Pasta with Creamy Shrimp Sauce.”

The name I gave this recipe is descriptive - but pretty boring!  
What would you have named it - and what title would you have used for this post?  


  1. I caught a typo in this post, and hopefully corrected it before any of you saw it! Better work on my French (or my typing) - - Voila! not Viola is what I meant to say!!

  2. You are so cute! I know exactly what you mean about the day slipping away, especially when you are just starting to blog! THere are soooo many things to learn and do and then check, repeat!
    I love the "oh, and the little green gobs are my frozen pesto!" I was actually guessing that is what it was..not the frozen/homemade part, but figured it was pesto! We love shrimp and pasta in this house, so now we have a new way to make it!! Thanks so much!

    1. Hi Dawn! I'm glad you found me. There seemed to be some sort of an issue with my link for a while today ??! Thanks for your comments. Hope you enjoy the recipe if you make it. I liked your "Throwback Thursday post about the heart crayons. Reading how you have improved as a blogger and are still at it after several years is encouraging! I saw that you have watermarked some of your photos - that is one of my goals to try and figure out how to do that!! Have a good weekend - and stop back!

  3. This looks amazing and I'm sure it tastes better than it looks. Pinning for later!

    1. I hope you like it Megan. I just visited your blog, and I see our posts today both mention spring weather - your weather looks a lot warmer than mine!


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