Shrimp Fettuccine with Garlic and Sundried Tomatoes

Shrimp Fettuccine with Garlic and Sundried Tomatoes

I get asked a lot where my inspiration comes from. Which seems strange to me, because in my head, everyone is thinking about food 24-7,  just like I am. (I’ve been told people think about other things, but I have yet to figure out what. Or why.)

The thing is, I don’t usually have a very good answer, and end up saying something mumbly and lame. Then, over this past weekend, I was asked on three separate occasions where my inspiration comes from, and it got me thinking I needed something better than that.

Shrimp Fettuccine with Garlic and Sundried Tomatoes

The truth is, inspiration is everywhere. In fact, I rarely have to go looking for it — I have far more ideas rattling around in my head than I could possibly act upon each week. I get inspired by ingredients (fresh and in season, mostly, but also exotic or unusual things I’ve never tried), by flavor combinations, by the stuff I eat in restaurants, by techniques, by the things I see in cooking shows or on blogs… give me a cookbook and I can’t even bear to flip through the whole thing in one sitting because my brain just can’t handle it all. Sometimes I even wake up in the middle of the night with some grand idea for a recipe and have to run to the grocery store in my pajamas to make it happen. (True story.)

But the thing that inspires me the most, hands down, is my stomach. It should go without saying, I cook what I like to eat. Fortunately, I like a lot of things, and I particularly enjoy trying new things, so there’s a wealth of inspiration to be had just from thinking “what do I want for dinner tonight?”

This pasta? This is what I want for dinner tonight. And tomorrow night. And the next day for lunch, because I will never, ever tire of it.

Shrimp Fettuccine with Garlic and Sundried Tomatoes

Behold, my new favorite meal. There’s nothing inherently special about this dish — in fact, it’s exceedingly simple — but somehow everything just falls into place. The garlic, and olives, and parmesan cheese… I’ve made this recipe five times, now, and haven’t changed a thing from the very first batch. (Insert look of shock here — I almost never make the same recipe again and again without messing with it.) Of course, most recipes don’t come together so easily, but when they do, I don’t argue. I just thank my cooking angels, and go with it.

Shrimp Fettuccine with Garlic and Sundried Tomatoes

The next time you’re stuck for inspiration in the kitchen, I hope you’ll turn to this recipe for help. It’s the best kind of simple, and comes together in in no time flat, so it’s perfect for getting you out of a food rut in the middle of the week. From now on, I plan on keeping a pound of shrimp in the freezer for that very purpose. That is, if I can stop making it every couple of days.

4.0 from 1 reviews
Shrimp Fettuccine with Garlic and Sundried Tomatoes
Serves: 4 servings
  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • 2 TBSP butter
  • 1 lb. shrimp, shelled and deveined
  • 1 lb. fettuccine (or spaghetti, or other long pasta)
  • 5-6 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup sundried tomatoes, packed in olive oil, chopped
  • ¼ cup kalamata olives, chopped
  • 1 tsp. anchovy paste (or 1-2 anchovy fillets)
  • ½-1 tsp. red pepper flakes, to taste
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 TBSP white wine vinegar
  • 5 oz. baby spinach
  • ¼-1/2 cup parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
  • ¼ cup fresh chopped Italian parsley, plus more for garnish
  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for the pasta. If your shrimp is frozen, thaw, rinse, and drain it well. Pat shrimp thoroughly dry with paper towels, and season lightly on both sides with a pinch of salt.
  2. Heat a large saute pan over medium-high heat, and add the olive oil. Saute the shrimp for about 1 minute per side, or until pink and just barely opaque all the way through. Remove the shrimp from the pan, and set aside. (Don't worry if it's slightly under-done, as it will be added back to the pan later.)
  3. Reduce the heat to medium, and add the butter and garlic. Saute for 3-4 minutes, stirring frequently, until the garlic just starts to turn golden. Be careful not to let it burn.
  4. While the garlic cookes is a good time to drop the pasta in the boiling water. Cook according to package directions until just barely al-dente. Before draining, reserve a ladle full of the pasta water.
  5. While the pasta cooks, add the sundried tomatoes, olives, anchovy paste, and ½ tsp. red pepper flakes to the pan with the garlic and stir for about a minute. Add the red bell pepper, and cook for one minute more. Add the white wine vinegar and spinach, and stir until the spinach is wilted.
  6. Once the pasta is done, drain it (be sure to reserve a little of the cooking liquid), and add the pasta to the pan, along with the shrimp, ¼ cup parmesan cheese, and parsley. Toss everything to combine, adding a couple TBSP of the pasta water if necessary to help coat the pasta and keep it from being too dry.
  7. Taste, and adjust the amount of parmesan and red pepper flakes as needed. Serve immediately with extra parmesan cheese, and more parsley for garnish.
This dish comes together surprisingly quickly. I suggest getting your mise en place on, and having everything ready to go before you begin. This makes the rest of the cooking a breeze. (Trust me, there's nothing worse than scrambling to chop something while your garlic burns or your pasta needs draining.)

I made this recipe for the family a few weekends ago, and doubled the recipe. If you want to make a larger amount, I found it easier to cook the shrimp in two batches, then continue with the recipe as written. (Also, plan on having a very large bowl, or a couple of bowls, at the ready for mixing everything at the end --that is a LOT of pasta!)

Leftovers (if there are any) can be kept in the fridge for up to a week.


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10 Responses to Shrimp Fettuccine with Garlic and Sundried Tomatoes

  1. Lan | morestomach February 19, 2015 at 1:08 pm #

    i think your inspiration on the plate looks wonderful and i’m glad you were able to act on it this week. you’re so right when you say inspiration is everywhere — it’s in what’s available at the markets, what the seasons are sharing and what you’re craving.

    more often than not, i get asked questions like, have you ever made blah blah, what’s the recipe? like it’s available off the top of my head. i’ve also grown to dislike the term “foodie”. i like food. period.

    • Willow Arlen February 19, 2015 at 4:53 pm #

      Thanks, Lan! I get that a lot, too — the truth is, there are only a handful of recipes I make often enough to draw from off the top of my head. More often than not, I need to refer to my own blog when I want to make something! This place is like my own personal recipe book — It’s just too much to memorize.

      Most of the time, the word foodie doesn’t bother me. I think it has to do with the spirit in which it’s said, because most of the time people mean well. I think there are a lot of negative conotations that can go along with it, though, so on that front I’m not a fan. Then again, the word “blogger” used to be fraught with negativity, but I don’t mind calling myself that. *shrug*

  2. movita beaucoup February 20, 2015 at 8:10 am #

    I’d leave 2.0 for this dish.

    (Because he won’t eat shrimp.)


    • Willow Arlen February 20, 2015 at 1:23 pm #

      Wow, that’s rough! You’re welcome to come over any time and I’ll make a batch for you. Silly 2.0…

  3. shannon @ a periodic table March 4, 2015 at 11:06 am #

    SO COLORFUL! and i saw anchovy in that ingredients list and i LOVE that you’re okay with anchovy paste…seriously it adds such an undeniably satisfying flavor to any pasta dish (IMO) that i can’t help but love it.

    • Willow Arlen March 16, 2015 at 3:21 pm #

      Yes! You know, I was afraid of anchovy paste for a long time (um, fish mush in a tube? No thanks!) but I believe it was the first time I made homemade caesar dressing that changed my mind about it. And you are absolutely right, just a little bit adds so much oomph to a basic pasta dish. Not fishy at all, just total deliciousness!

  4. Jennie @themessybakerblog March 16, 2015 at 7:40 pm #

    Same here! I have a never-ending list of recipe ideas–some in my head, some typed, and some hand-written. You’re right, inspiration comes from everywhere. I’m constantly have ideas pop into my head from out of nowhere. I’ll probably never get a chance to make all of my inspirations come to life. Love this gorgeous pasta dish. Pinned.

    • Willow Arlen March 17, 2015 at 7:24 pm #

      Thanks Jennie! I know how you feel — there is no way all that inspiration can come out of just one person. There are just too many delicious things to make!

  5. Susan November 3, 2015 at 1:04 am #

    very good. I omitted the cheese. my grandfather was a fisherman and we NEVER put cheese and seafood together.

    • Willow Arlen November 3, 2015 at 1:00 pm #

      Glad you liked it, Susan! You’re right, seafood and cheese are normally best kept separate. I think shrimp and parmesan is a rare exception to the rule, but to each his own!

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