If you’ve ever ordered a “spicy” dish in the Upper Midwest where I live, then you need to understand something about this Spicy Shrimp Pasta: it is a legitimately spicy spaghetti.
I know that all palates are different and that some people are more sensitive to spice than others. After six years of living in Wisconsin, however, I’ve decided that on a scale of 1 to 10, this state starts panting and sweating at anything above a 2.
It doesn’t mean the food here is bland. It does mean that when a menu describes a dish as “spicy,” you need to have a heart-to-heart with your server to decipher what “spicy” actually means: really, actually spicy or Wisconsin spicy.
Note: Wisconsin spicy is not spicy.
This recipe for spicy shrimp spaghetti is! It won’t light your tongue on fire or send you running for an emergency glass of milk, but it does have a nice kick to it (just like this delicious Bang Bang Shrimp).
If you love your food with a bit of an edge every now and then (like Seafood Pasta), you’ll go just as crazy for this healthy shrimp pasta recipe as Ben and I did.
Not only does this spicy shrimp pasta have stellar flavor, but it’s loaded with good-for-you ingredients. Whole grains, fresh veggies, and lean protein represent, and it’s ready start to finish in 30 minutes, 25 if you hustle.
My top goal for the recipes I share on this site (and will be publishing in my upcoming cookbook!!) is to make healthy recipes faster and more approachable, without sacrificing taste.
At no other point in my personal life has that approach felt as relevant as it does now. In addition to my book, which is officially the best and hardest thing I’ve ever taken on, Ben and I move into our new home in downtown Milwaukee in t-minus 3 days. (Please send all the boxes and wine!)
About This Spicy Shrimp Pasta Recipe
This shrimp spaghetti’s combination of fresh ingredients mixed with pantry staples has kept healthy eating attainable for us, even amidst the mad chaos.
If your weeknights are busy (and I suspect that they often are), then this healthy shrimp pasta will be a true help to you too.
My secrets to ensuring that this recipe is quick to prep and healthy without skimping on flavor or texture are a jar of spicy arrabbiata sauce and whole wheat spaghetti.
Store-bought pasta sauce and whole wheat pasta noodles are two of my top pantry items, and I am picky about both.
In a spicy shrimp pasta with red sauce like this one, the top source of flavor is the sauce itself. This tomato sauce has so much bang to it already, I didn’t need to doctor it up with additional ingredients. It tastes yummy and fresh right out of the jar, and as we’ve discussed, it delivers on its spicy promise.
Whole wheat pasta is another area where I am demanding. One of the fastest, easiest ways you can boost your diet without adding a moment to your prep time is to use whole wheat pasta noodles in place of white. Unfortunately there are a lot of bad ones out there, to the extent that whole wheat pasta has gotten a bad reputation it doesn’t (always) deserve.
They cook up perfectly al dente and taste fantastic. I promise no one in your household will suspect that the pasta they are eating is actually 100% whole grain.
For this recipe, I opted for classic shrimp spaghetti, but you could also try these adaptations.
- Spicy Shrimp Linguine. Try linguine noodles or fettuccini noodles, if you like your noodles a bit thicker.
- Spicy Shrimp Penne. A short pasta such as penne would work nicely too, though personally I love twirling the long noodles around each juicy piece of shrimp.
What to Serve with Spicy Shrimp Pasta
- Salad. A simple, fresh salad like this Anytime Arugula Salad will pair nicely.
- Vegetables. Try serving a healthy side dish like Roasted Brussels Sprouts or Roasted Zucchini.
- Cocktail. Cool things off with this refreshing Italian Margarita.
Recommended Tools for Making Spicy Shrimp Pasta
- Cutting board. It has tons of space! This no-slip cutting board would also be great.
- Sharp Chef’s Knife. Makes chopping a breeze.
In addition to celebrating the beauty of fast, healthy recipes, I’m also sharing this spicy shrimp pasta in honor of Italian Heritage Month, which takes place in October. It’s an occasion to honor the achievements of Italian-Americans…and I’m taking it as a tasty excuse to eat more Italian food too!
Spicy Shrimp Pasta
- 8 ounces whole wheat spaghetti or linguine or fettuccini noodles
- 1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 large head broccoli cut into florets, about 5 cups
- 1 medium yellow bell pepper cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 1 medium red bell pepper cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 shallot minced
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 (25-ounce) jar spicy arrabbiata pasta sauce
- 1 pound raw large shrimp peeled and deveined (I use thawed frozen shrimp to save time)
- 3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
- 3 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan optional
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the noodles to al dente according to package instructions.
- Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large, deep skillet or Dutch oven over medium-high heat (a big wok works too). Once the oil is hot, add the broccoli, red and yellow bell peppers, and salt. Let cook for 2 minutes, then add the shallot. Continue cooking until the vegetables are crisp-tender and the shallot is beginning to brown, about 3 additional minutes. Add the garlic and cook just until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
- Stir in the pasta sauce. Bring the sauce to a gentle boil. Reduce the heat so that the sauce simmers gently. Stir in the shrimp and let simmer until the shrimp are cooked through—they will go from gray/blue to pink and opaque—about 5 minutes.
- Drain the pasta and immediately add it to the sauce. Toss to coat the noodles in the sauce and evenly distribute the shrimp and vegetables (a pair of tongs is very handy for this). Sprinkle with parsley and Parmesan. Enjoy immediately.
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