5 Ingredients or Fewer

Shrimp Pasta With Tomatoes, Basil & Chile Butter

May 25, 2022
21 Ratings
Photo by Julia Gartland. Prop Stylist: Megan Hedgpeth. Food Stylist: Yossy Arefi
  • Prep time 20 minutes
  • Cook time 30 minutes
  • Serves 2 to 4
Author Notes

Shrimp pasta that tastes like you’re on vacation needs little more than shrimp and pasta. This recipe calls for tiny tomatoes, fresh basil, and choose-your-own chile paste (plus butter and salt). The result is spicy, saucy, and deeply savory. Starting with shelled shrimp is easier, yes—but they cost more and give you less to work with. Approach shelling as a chance to unwind. Sway to music, toss the shells in a pot, and let them simmer with water. In a matter of minutes, you’ll have a briny stock. That is where pasta will cook, happily, yielding a starchy liquid gold to bolster the sauce. The chile paste is up to you, depending on what you have in the kitchen. Calabrian for kick, harissa for spiced warmth, gochujang for tangy funk? You tell me. And if the basil quantity sounds like overkill, well, that’s the point. In this case, it is treated less like an herby garnish, and more like a leafy green, so there’s no need to fuss over a side dish. Sounds like vacation to me. —Emma Laperruque

What You'll Need
Watch This Recipe
Shrimp Pasta With Tomatoes, Basil & Chile Butter
  • 1 pound (454 grams) large to extra-large shell-on shrimp
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • 8 ounces (227 grams) long pasta, such as spaghetti or linguine
  • 4 tablespoons (57 grams) salted butter, divided
  • 1 tablespoon chile paste/spread (such as Calabrian, harissa, or gochujang), plus more to taste
  • 1 pint (320 grams) cherry or grape tomatoes
  • 1 1/4 cups (25 grams) packed basil leaves
  1. Turn on an album or podcast and peel the shrimp, leaving the tails on and tossing the rest of the shells into a medium pot.
  2. Once all the shells are in the pot, add 8 cups of water and turn on the heat to medium-high to come to a boil. Boil until reduced by one-third to one-half.
  3. While that boils, use a paring knife to devein the shrimp, rinsing the knife in a bowl of water as needed.
  4. When the stock is reduced, use a slotted spoon or small sieve to strain out and discard the shrimp shells. Generously salt the boiling water. Add the pasta and cook to al dente according to the package instructions.
  5. As soon as the pasta is in, set your largest skillet on another burner over medium-high heat and add 1 tablespoon of the butter to melt. Add the tomatoes and cook, swirling frequently, until starting to blister and puff, 1 to 2 minutes.
  6. Push the tomatoes to the perimeter of the pan, add another 1 tablespoon of butter to the center, then add the shrimp, shaking them into an even layer. Sprinkle everything with salt. Cook the shrimp for 1 to 2 minutes, until the bottoms are pink and opaque, then flip and cook for another 1 to 2 minutes, until pink and opaque on the other side.
  7. Gently toss the tomatoes and shrimp, then drop the heat to low while the pasta finishes (or turn it off if the pasta has more than 2 minutes left).
  8. Use tongs to transfer the cooked pasta to the skillet with the tomatoes and shrimp. Add ½ cup of starchy shrimp stock, the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, and the chile paste. Toss over low to medium-low heat, adding more stock if needed, until the sauce coats the noodles and is as thick as you like (keep in mind, it’ll thicken as it sits). Give it a taste: More salt or chile paste? Adjust if needed.
  9. Tear the basil into pieces. Toss in most of the basil, then sprinkle the rest on top.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

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  • MrsFalcon
Emma was the food editor at Food52. She created the award-winning column, Big Little Recipes, and turned it into a cookbook in 2021. These days, she's a senior editor at Bon Appétit, leading digital cooking coverage. Say hello on Instagram at @emmalaperruque.

15 Reviews

p. T. August 8, 2022
We have a glut of cherry toms and basil in the garden right now, and some good pasta in the pantry. We just finished cleaning our home-grown garlic and were tempted to include some, but didn't for the first trial. This recipe was made for our garden moment. It was fabulous. I had purchased a new supply of gochujang sauce from Trader Joe's so we used that. It was a little milder than the bin we had exhausted from the Asian food store in town, but very flavorful. My husband followed the recipe carefully and we used big Mexican shrimp from our local reliable fishmonger. We plan to have this regularly for the rest of the summer. Thanks for publishing it!
MrsFalcon July 27, 2022
We had a pint of garden cherry tomatoes, a bag of frozen shrimp, and some harissa paste, so I went for it. I added a garlic clove and a little bit of lemon. So delicious and so easy!
mjthoms July 18, 2022
this is a great summer recipe! I could have eaten the whole pot. we used calabrian chili for the flavoring. Highly recommend adding garlic when cooking the shrimp / tomatoes. We also added chopped cooked asparagus to ours which was absolute perfection (added a great crunchy texture to compliment the shrimp and pasta). You can't overdo the basil.
Christine G. July 4, 2022
I made this for my husband and I for the 4th of July. This recipe is Fabulous!
Im Italian on my Mom's side (Calabrian and Sicilian) I couldn't help myself, I added 2 cloves of garlic to the tomatoes. I didn't have Calabrian chili paste so I used hot flakes. It's as good as any pasta at a trattoria!
bilkel928 June 26, 2022
This is a fabulous recipe- can’t believe I never thought to boil the shells!! This is now a go to recipe..
Lynne O. June 18, 2022
A wonderful recipe. I made exactly as directed although quartered regular tomatoes. Loved buttery taste and kick of chili paste was just right. Will be repeated in our house!
trefoiles June 8, 2022
I made this recipe, cut down for two, as it was written. I might use less butter next time. Half way through eating the shrimp pasta, I squeezed some lemon juice over it which cut the richness and made the tomato sauce taste brighter. Loved using the shrimp stock and cooking the pasta in less liquid than I normally would.
KClaura June 5, 2022
This recipe is a wonderful template! It has been years since I made a shrimp stock. It’s been far too long!
I had to adapt the ingredients by subbing out some of the gochujang paste with some finally minced preserved lemon and a dab of miso paste. I was worried that the original amount of chili pace would be too much for my kids, but I wanted to add something flavorful. I also had zero basil in my house but a ton of lovely fennel fronds growing outside. So our subbed fennel for the basil. It turned out to be very delicious.
BeccaLou June 5, 2022
This was just wonderful - and so easy. I used the gochujang paste - gave quite a kick, which we both enjoyed. For a variation you could add briny black olives & a crumble of feta. The basil (straight out of my garden) was delightful. We will be doing this again.
K June 5, 2022
Amazing recipe. I made it exactly as written and it made an elegant and delicious dinner. I will definitely make it again when we next entertain.
chinagem June 3, 2022
Just finished making this. It may be the best shrimp pasta dish I've ever tasted.
BonnieC. June 2, 2022
I don't care to use shrimp from overseas sources unless I must, & if/when I do, I do not save the shells from those. But when I'm able to get really nice fresh U.S.-sourced shrimp, I always save the shells in the freezer in order to make shrimp stock when I need it.
Tim P. May 31, 2022
Shrimp stock is the way to go. I have used it for years in lieu of clam juice or seafood stock. Freezes well too.
saneeub May 31, 2022
I have loved a recipe with pasta and blistered grape tomatoes. Try it, is is super easy and tastes so fresh and clean. The tomatoes add a pop of flavor that is irresistible. But with the shrimp, it's genius. My husband and I love shrimp. I knew the trick of using shrimp shells to make stock. I save any shells I have left over and freeze them for use later. The stock can be used in just about any fish or seafood recipe, For this recipe, we like the Calabrian chili paste. Thank you for this recipe. It is super!!! Love Food52.