Sunday, May 27, 2012

Creamy Tomato Basil Penne with Shrimp

Oh my gosh. Welp, guys, I think I've outdone myself... again. This weekend I was home alone babysitting the doggies for Mommy and El. With all of this alone time, I was given plenty of time to plan out a DELICIOUS meal for Daniel (he was out of town Friday night). I don't even know how do describe this meal. Penne pasta with shrimp in a tomato basil cream sauce. Wow. It was rich, it was light, it was everything you want in a pasta dish. I know what you're thinking... this is pretty unhealthy. I won't lie, it is. But it is so decadent and so delicious that it's a perfect meal for a celebration or special occasion. (And, it's great the next night!!!) Oh, and what made it even better, you ask? BACON!!! Yup, shrimp, basil, cream, and BACON!!! 
The next time you really want to impress a guest (or a group), this dish is super easy yet tastes (and smells!!!) like it's fresh from an Italian restaurant.

What you'll need (this will feed AT LEAST 4 people):
1 lb. uncooked shrimp (peeled and deveined!)
4 cloves garlic
1/4 cup white wine
3/4 cup chopped fresh basil
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 can diced tomatoes (juices included)
4 slices bacon
1 cup FRESHLY grated parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. pepper

1. Boil a large pot of water (once boiling, add a handful of kosher salt to the pot. This will flavor the water which is our only real chance of flavoring the pasta itself).
2. While the water is boiling chop the garlic and basil.
3. In a large nonstick pan, cook the bacon over medium heat. Once cooked, move to a plate lined with paper towels to drain. DO NOT DRAIN THE BACON FAT!!!
4. In the SAME pan WITH THE BACON FAT, sauté the garlic for about 30 seconds (any longer and the garlic will burn!). 
5. After 30 seconds or so, add the white wine to the pan and scrape the bottom of the pan and get all of those good, flavorfilled bacon bits (this is called deglazing. It brings up all of the flavors stuck at the bottom of the pan).
6. Add the can of diced tomatoes and red pepper flakes to the pan.
7. To the pan, add the heavy cream, salt, pepper and basil. Let cook on low until thickened (about 10 minutes). LET THE SAUCE THICKEN WHILE THE PASTA IS COOKING. IF YOU TIME IT RIGHT, THEY'LL BOTH BE READY AT THE SAME TIME!!!
8. Once the sauce is thickened and the pasta is just about ready, add the uncooked shrimp to the pan (they'll cook quickly! 4 minutes TOPS!).
9. Using a fine grater (a zester works great), grate the parmesan (spend the extra few dollars and get the authentic kind, like I used. It's worth it).
11. Drain the pasta and add to the pan (reserve some pasta water to thin out the sauce if it's too thick). Toss in the parmesan and bacon and transfer a large serving bowl. 
12. Garnish with a little more basil and parmesan.
enjoy :)

Oh, and like I said in my previous Tips in the Kitchen: WHITE entry, serve everything in white bowls, simple wine glasses and water glasses, and white napkins. 


  1. Made this tonight and the end result was a bit bland. To be fair I didn't use bacon as I am not a fan of it in my pasta dishes. But I felt this could be enhanced with a bit more seasonings such as shallots, bay leaves or seasoned garlic salt. Overall this was a quick and easy dinner, I would recommend this recipe but with an encouragement to add more flavor. Thank you for the wonderful photos and easy instructions !!! Happy cooking !

    1. I'm so sorry you had that experience! I would definitely add a little more salt and pepper and red pepper flakes to start before adding anything intense like a bay leaf. Maybe even a little more basil (I would say more garlic but not many people love garlic as much as I do!). If you didn't use the white wine then maybe that took away from some of the flavor. I hope you'll make it again and let me know how it tastes with the adjustments! :)

    2. Just to let you know I reheated some of the leftovers and it tasted SO much better!! I think next time I will let the sauce simmer a bit longer, I totally devoured the pasta last night and am so happy to have leftovers for tomorrow! And I too love garlic so don't worry, if I had it my way I would add almost a whole head to each recipe!