Updated: Jun 6, 2019
Summer cooking calls for simplicity- many of my favorite ingredients are at their ripest and most flavorful. They don’t need much manipulation to shine! This is the season for leaving things raw, seasoning mildly, and choosing fresh over canned or frozen. This tasty pasta dish epitomizes simple summer flavors- fresh cherry tomatoes mingle with juicy shrimp in a delectable tangle of bucatini pasta. Bucatini is similar to spaghetti- it’s just thicker and hollow in the center (allowing the sauce to really absorb into each strand of pasta). If you can’t find bucatini, spaghetti or linguini would work well- there is something elegant and sophisticated about long ribbons of pasta paired with shellfish! But any shape you have on hand or prefer would be fabulous. Be careful not to overcook the shrimp- they will be tough and rubbery if you do. I leave mine a little undercooked in the first step, transferring them to a plate when they are just slightly shy of done. They will continue to cook in the sauce at the end of the process. Same thing goes for the pasta- you want to take it out of the water when it is very al dente, as it will also continue to cook in that simmering shrimpy, tomatoey concoction. Also, don’t forget to reserve 1 cup of pasta water before draining the bucatini- this is the key to creating a thick and silky sauce! If you’re looking to simplify this dish even further, try it without the shrimp for a fresh and delicious vegetarian spaghetti with tomato sauce. Or, elevate it a notch by subbing in cooked lobster meat in place of shrimp! OMG- will be trying that soon! This pasta is scrumptious, simple, and summery anyway you spin it.
prep time: 10 min. cook time: ~15 min. serves: 4-6
1 lb peeled and deveined shrimp, tails left on for presentation if desired
1 large shallot, diced
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 cup dry white wine
3 cups cherry tomatoes (I use both red and yellow), halved
1/2 cup basil leaves, plus more cut in chiffonade for garnish
3/4 lb bucatini pasta
2 tbsp butter
1 lemon, zested and cut into small wedges, for garnish and serving
Bring a large pot of water to boil and season liberally with salt. Cook the pasta while you make the sauce: add the bucatini to the boiling water and cook until very al dente (1 minute less than what the package directions say). Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water before straining the pasta in a colander. Place the shrimp in a bowl and season with salt and pepper to taste- toss to coat. In a large, deep skillet, heat 1 tbsp of olive oil over medium. Add the shrimp in a single layer when the oil is hot, cooking about 2 minutes per side (until slightly undercooked). Remove the shrimp to a plate. Add 1 more tbsp of oil and the shallot, garlic, and chili flake- cook stirring frequently about 2 minutes. Deglaze the pan with the wine and allow it to reduce for a minute, then add tomatoes, basil, 1/2 cup pasta water, and 1 tsp of salt. Allow the sauce to cook about 7 minutes, until it has thickened slightly and the tomatoes are meltingly falling apart. Add the shrimp, pasta, and additional pasta water (if too thick) back to the sauce and stir to combine. Let everything simmer about 2 minutes more, until the pasta is perfectly al dente and the shrimp is cooked through. Check for seasoning. Remove the pasta from the heat and stir in the butter to melt. Transfer to a large bowl, garnish with lemon zest and basil sprinkled over the top, and serve lemon wedges on the side.