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January 12, 2016

Shrimp fra Diavolo with Penne | Slightly Spicy Tomato Cream Sauce with Shrimp

You know those recipes that started out one way, then slowly transform to another?  Before you know it, you barely follow the original at all.  That is how this recipe turned out for me.  One of the staples in our home for the last couple of years has been the Barefoot Contessa's Penne alla Vodka.   After getting out the actual recipe from the book the other day (for a quantity reference), I realized how far I had strayed (simplified) without noticing a difference in the taste/outcome.  

We enjoy this recipe during the week, but it is also great for entertaining - especially with the Shrimp to make it a bit more fancy : )

Changes : 
- Vodka : I started the simplifying from the get-go be leaving out the vodka - I just didn't notice a difference. 
- Tomatoes : I only use one large can of tomatoes with 1 pound of pasta.  The original recipe calls for two.  It is a fine way to end up with leftovers, but I found that 1 can of tomatoes was perfect for 1 box of pasta.
- Cooking Time : Another thing we started to do is only cooking it for 45 minutes, instead of the recommended 1 1/2 hours.  
- Blender : The original recipe instructs to blend the sauce so it is smooth.  I've never done this step because I enjoy the texture of the sauce without blending.
+ Shrimp : I often add a protein to the sauce, and our recent favorite for this recipe has been shrimp.
+ Spice : I up the red pepper flakes to make the sauce a little spicy.  This is also in the original recipe, but sometimes I do leave it out, too, for Emma.

What we ended up with is more of a creamy Diavolo sauce (spicy tomato sauce).  Here is my recipe below, but feel free to change the shrimp to chicken, or leave out the red pepper - this recipe is a starting place for lots of ideas... clearly!

Penne Fra Diavolo with Shrimp

3 tablespoons of olive oil
1/2 large yellow onion, small dice
3 cloves of garlic
1/2 tsp. of crushed red pepper flakes
1 1/2 tsp. of dried italian herbs
1 - 28 oz. can of Whole Peeled Tomatoes
3/4 cup of heavy cream
2 teaspoons of sea salt
1 pound/box of penne pasta
sea salt
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 pound of shrimp, peeled
2 cloves of garlic
1/4 cup of grated parmesan, for serving
fresh thyme

In a large pot or dutch oven, cook onion in olive oil until soft.  Add garlic, red pepper and herbs and cook for 1 more minute.  Add canned tomatoes and bring to a simmer.  Cover with lid or foil and place in a 350 degree oven for 40 minutes.  Return sauce to the stovetop after the oven.
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil.  Cook pasta 8 minutes, or until al dente.  

Meanwhile, add cream to the tomato sauce and bring to a low simmer.  Drain pasta from boiling water and add to the sauce (without rinsing with water).

In a small saut√© pan, cook shrimp for 2 minutes on each side until shrimp are almost cooked through, then add garlic and cook for 1 more minute.  Add shrimp to the tomato sauce.

Serve with grated parmesan and fresh thyme (optional).

Winter dinner pictures are not great - when it gets dark at 5pm, it is hard to get a nice photo.
It tastes great, I promise : )


  1. Anonymous2:35 PM

    Hi Jenny, your photos look gorgeous, winter light and all! Ina's version of this dish is one of my favorites. Your tweaks sound great!

  2. Anonymous4:46 PM

    Jenny, I was just wondering if you've tried Ina's recipe for Roasted Italian Sausages and Grapes. It's another good recipe from one of her Italian restaurant-owner friends. The sausages and grapes are delicious together.

  3. So funny that you just posted this! I made Ina's recipe for friends on New Year's Eve and it was so much spicier than I imagined. We like spicy, but even I thought it was a little too much. I learned a valuable lesson though--I will never make a "new to me" recipe for company again. What was I thinking? I love your idea of adding shrimp. I will try that next time--and use less red pepper flakes!

  4. I love the fiery color of this pasta --- and Ina never disappoints!

  5. I like your version. A lot! And so did my family. Thanks so much!


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