An Old Favorite

It is not uncommon for me to come home, ready to cook dinner, only to realize that I have forgotten to thaw some meat. I have a couple of stand-bys for when this happens. One of my husband’s favorites is Shrimp Fra Diavolo. The ingredients are easy to stock up on and are almost all non-perishable. This dish can range anywhere from slightly spicy to pretty powerful. My husband tells me that very spicy food blocks out other tastes and flavors, and since, as a picky and sensitive eater, he is so often overwhelmed by the many sensations associated with food, he sees eating spicy food as a kind of meditation. When something is very spicy he can finally relax and only focus on that one, powerful feeling. Hubby is so attached to this dish that he has made countless delicious suggestions on the details and I have thus modified it many times over. We know exactly how it’s supposed to taste, and this version always comes out perfectly.

I also love this dish because I can make it in about 45 minutes from start to finish (including thawing the shrimp), and because it’s loaded with great veggies. The shrimp are pretty good for him too.

Shrimp Fra Diavolo


Approximate Cooking Time:
45 minutes

Approximately 300 g of pasta
2-lb. bag of raw, frozen shrimp
olive oil

3 cloves garlic
1 medium small white or yellow onion, sliced (see Special Notes)
1 to 6 t. crushed red pepper flakes, depending on desired spiciness
28-oz. can of crushed tomatoes, or about 3 large tomatoes, chopped finely with the juice reserved
12-oz. can tomato paste

Thaw shrimp by pouring into a bowl and adding lukewarm water. Boil water and begin cooking pasta according to the directions on the box. Heat olive oil in a large saucepan. Sauté the onions for approximately 3 minutes, then add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Then add the red pepper flakes and cook for approximately 30 seconds.

Cooking the onions, garlic, and red pepper flakes.

Add the tomato paste and crushed tomatoes to the onions, garlic and red peppers, stir well, and turn the heat down to simmer. Continue tasting the sauce and add more red pepper flakes if necessary.

Stirring the sauce.

While the sauce simmers, peel the thawed shrimp, and sauté them in a separate pan in a little bit of olive oil until they turn fully pink. Add the shrimp to the sauce and stir. When the pasta is done, drain it and add it to the sauce. Stir so that the pasta and shrimp are completely coated with the sauce, and serve immediately. Garnish with some parsley if desired.

All done! Hubby doesn’t like parsley on his, but I love it.

Special Notes:
The onions can be sliced lengthwise, so you have fairly long, curvy strips, and cooked that way, or chopped into small pieces. We prefer longer pieces. I usually chop the onion in half and then slice it into strips so that the pieces aren’t too long.

I personally prefer cans of tomatoes with chunky tomato pieces, but hubby hates the texture of tomatoes, so I make the sauce smoother by using the fully crushed tomatoes, or by cooking down fresh tomatoes. The tomato paste helps the texture turn out correctly, and gives hubby even more tomatoes in his meal.

I have tried adding salt and pepper to this meal but I do not find that it improves it. In fact, salt usually competes with the spicy flavor and the result is not very yummy at all.


We always have leftovers with this one because we’re just cooking for two. It serves 4 quite easily. The leftovers make for a great quick lunch the next day. Be careful though, because it gets spicier as it sits in the fridge!

Enjoy! Please feel free to comment if you try this recipe and have any suggestions for improvement, or new twists that you’ve tried!


1 Comment

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One response to “An Old Favorite

  1. Hubby

    Two notes since I’ve played with this recipe some more since I started doing a lot of the cooking at home:
    1) Optionally, add basil to the red sauce a couple of minute before adding the shrimp. Very yummy.
    2) While this ages really well, it gets spicier over time. If its too spicy when you cook it, you’re going to have trouble with it as leftovers. Compensate by adding some plain red sauce and/or more pasta

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