Shrimp Fra Diavolo
Shrimp Fra Diavolo is an easy weeknight-friendly pasta dinner that is loaded with the best homemade tomato sauce spiked with Calabrian chilies! The heat from the peppers pairs beautifully with the sweet shrimp. I love tossing the sauce with pasta at the end or you can even serve it with crispy crunchy garlic bread!
This recipe is sponsored by Calphalon. We’re using Calphalon Premier™ Hard-Anodized Cookware with new MineralShield™ to prepare today’s recipe.
Shrimp Fra Diavolo is one of those Italian-American dishes that I just can’t stop myself from ordering. It’s the first dish on my mind when we visit one of our favorite Italian restaurants in New York.
Large sweet, yet salty shrimp simmering in a garlicky spicy tomato sauce, served on a bed of pasta that’s wrapped in said fiery tomato sauce with specks of tender garlic and lots of pepper flakes. It’s typically served as a pasta dish with enough sauce to coat the cooked pasta. But you know what, I wouldn’t be mad at all if you nixed the pasta all together and served this with an abundance of white-truffle garlic bread.
I can’t imagine that it would be anything short of amazing.
What is shrimp fra diavolo?
Literally translated ‘fra diavolo’ means ‘from the devil’ or ‘among the devil.’ It’s suspected that migrants from the Naples region of Italy created this Italian-American classic. Diavolo sauce is usually reserved for seafood such as lobster or shrimp. The term is used to describe a rich tomato sauce that is prepared with red chili flakes giving it that signature kick.
Ingredients you’ll need:
- Pasta of choice: use any kind that you like! My preference is linguine, fettuccine or what I’ve used today – fusilli col buco. Be sure to save some of that pasta water so you have plenty to thin out the tomato sauce as needed.
- Shrimp: I like to use large or extra large shrimp for this recipe as the protein. Tails on or off is entirely up to you, however, the dish is typically served with tails-on so that it looks a bit fancier!
- Red Pepper Flakes: Adds that signature heat to the dish. I use red pepper flakes on the shrimp before we fry them off in the pan and then I use a chili paste to heat up the sauce up.
- Olive Oil: You’ll want to use lots of good quality oil for this recipe. We’ll use a bit to fry the shrimp first, then the rest will be used to fry the garlic and prepare the spicy tomato sauce.
- Garlic: The heart and soul of this recipe is lots and lots of garlic! Which just happens to be one of my favorite ingredients. I use a total of 12 garlic cloves for this recipe, but feel free to reduce that a little bit if you aren’t a huge fan. We’ll cook the garlic with the chili paste so it’s not harsh in the sauce.
- Calabrian Pepper paste: This is my secret little ingredient to give this sauce that restaurant quality flavor! Add anywhere from ½ to 2 tablespoons to paste to make this pasta taste as fiery as you like.
- Baking Soda: I add the tiniest bit of baking soda to raise the pH of the tomato sauce. This creates a silky smooth, low acidic sauce where the garlic and chili flavors really shine through.
- San Marzano Tomatoes: I usually buy a can of whole tomatoes that I’ll crush in a food mill or more typically just give them a good squishing with clean hands. Breaking them down by hand allows the tomatoes to break down quicker into a sauce when they simmer.
- Stock: You can use shrimp, fish, or chicken stock here. I typically make my own shrimp stock when I’ve collected enough shells. I’ll share the instructions on the recipe card in case you’re interested.
- Fresh Parsley: Used to add both color and flavor.
How to make shrimp fra diavolo:
- Start with the pasta. Bring your 8 quart stock pot from the Calphalon Premier™ Hard-Anodized Cookware with new MineralShield™ set with water to boil. What I love most about this set is that the durable, 3-layer nonstick interior is reinforced with some of the earth’s hardest minerals so you could even use metal utensils and it would still hold up to everyday use! When the water is boiling, generously season with salt and prepare the pasta as directed on the package. You’ll want to reserve some of the pasta water to thin out the tomato sauce before you drain the rest.
- Saute the shrimp. Pat the shrimp dry with paper towel. This will allow them to sear better in the hot pan. Season with a half teaspoon salt and lots of red pepper flakes. Heat your 3 quart saute pan over medium high heat. When the pan is hot, add the oil and saute the shrimp until just cooked. You want the shrimp to be opaque and to just start to curl up. Remove them to a plate.
- Make fra diavolo sauce. Add the remaining olive oil to the same pan and saute the garlic and the Calabrian chili paste. Preparing the sauce in the same pan means that the sauce will have all the collected leftover flavor bits from sautéing the shrimp. Stir in the baking soda, crushed tomatoes, stock, and a pinch of kosher salt when the garlic is fragrant. Bring the sauce to a simmer and then let it simmer over medium-low heat so that the flavors have a chance to develop further.
- Finish and serve. When the sauce is thickened, add the shrimp and any juices that might have collected on the plate to the sauce. Add most of the parsley (you can also use fresh basil leaves here instead if you want.) Toss the pasta in the sauce and add the reserved pasta water as needed to thin the sauce to your liking. I didn’t need too much! Taste and adjust with more seasonings needed and serve warm!
If you like this recipe you might also like:
- Garlicky Calabrian Chili Butter Pasta
- Mediterranean Shrimp Orzo Salad
- Garlicky Orzo Shrimp Scampi
- Spicy Shrimp Pasta
- Weeknight Pasta Puttanesca
Thank you to our friends over at Calphalon for sponsoring today’s post!
- 12 ounces dry linguine (or pasta of choice)
- 1¼ pound large shrimp, cleaned with tails-on
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 5 tablespoons olive oil
- 10-12 cloves garlic
- ½-2 tablespoons Calabrian chili paste
- ⅛ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 (28 ounce) can whole San Marzano tomatoes, squished down (or diced)
- ¾ cup shrimp, fish, or chicken stock (see notes)
- 3 tablespoons fresh parsley, divided
- PASTA: Bring a large pot of water to boil. When boiling, generously salt the water and cook pasta according to package directions. Reserve ½ cup of stock, drain the rest.
- TOSS: Pat the shrimp dry using paper towels. Toss with the red pepper flakes and ½ teaspoon salt in a bowl. Heat a 3 quart nonstick saute pan over medium-high heat. When the pan is hot, drizzle with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the shrimp in a single layer and cook for 45-60 seconds until the shrimp sears, flip and continue to cook for another 30-45 seconds or until the shrimp is opaque and cooked through. Remove the shrimp to a rimmed plate and continue cooking any remaining shrimp the same way.
- FRA DIAVOLO: Add the remaining 3 tbsp of oil to the skillet. Add the garlic and Calabrian chili paste, stir to combine and cook for 30 seconds. Then add the baking soda, ½ teaspoon kosher salt, tomatoes, and stock. Bring the tomato mixture to a simmer, then lower the heat to medium-low and cook for 10 minutes or until the sauce thickens, stirring often.
- FINISH: When the sauce has thickened, add the shrimp to the skillet along with any juices that may have accumulated on the plate and 2 tablespoons of parsley. Toss to combine. When the shrimp have heated through, add the pasta and toss it in the sauce. If the sauce is too thick, use the reserved pasta water to thin the sauce to your liking. Taste and adjust with seasonings as desired. Serve topped with remaining parsley.
* Homemade stock: Keep the shells from peeled shrimp in a baggy in the freezer until you have the peels of ~2 pounds of shrimp. Add a drizzle of oil to a saucepan over medium-high heat. Saute shrimp shells with 2-4 cloves of smashed garlic for 2 minutes. Then add 3 cup water, a few sprigs of parsley, 1 teaspoon black peppercorns, and ½ teaspoon of salt. Bring to a boil, lower the heat and let simmer for 15 mins. Strain stock through mesh strainer. Use or freeze within 3 days.