This shrimp and broccoli pasta recipe is easy, quick and packed with so many flavors. Tastes and looks like a restaurant dish! Perfect for busy weeknights.
Is there a way to make pasta healthy? Sure! In fact, the Mediterranean diet is an increasingly popular choice far from the shores of Italy. The core of the Mediterranean diet is a combination of high fruit and vegetable intake, seafood, and extra virgin olive oil. If you can throw in an active lifestyle with plenty of time in the sun and around your loved ones, you’ll soon feel the benefits.
This pasta dish is actually pretty close to the kind of rustic, easy-to-prepare dishes they make at home in Italy. Along the riviera, simple dishes of green veggies and pasta are very common. You might even have seen a similar concept in the recent Disney film Luca.
Shrimp pasta is a very comforting meal, bursting with ocean flavors. Garlic compliments the natural sweetness of your shrimp flesh, while the broccoli, zucchini pesto and pasta add substance and breadth to the meal. You won’t be feeling hungry after a bowl of this awesome shrimp pasta, that’s for sure.
Perhaps the coolest thing about this restaurant-style meal is how easy and quick it is to cook at home. From kitchen to table will take thirty minutes or fewer. Some people even manage it in twenty with a couple of minor tweaks to the recipe!
How to make Shrimp and Broccoli Pasta
You will need shrimp, zucchini, broccoli, garlic, pasta of your choice, Parmesan, olive oil, hazelnuts, basil, salt and pepper.
- Combine everything. Garnish with toasted nuts and basil leaves.
How to Cook Shrimp for Pasta
The trick when using shrimp for pasta is to make sure your shrimp is cooked separately before adding it to the pasta.
You also don’t want to overcook shrimp. That’s a great way to end up with rubbery, tasteless shrimp-colored hockey pucks dispersed throughout your pasta. The sweet spot for shrimp, depending on their size, is 2-3 minutes per side. Shrimp is cooked when it goes pink, opaque, and curls into a c-shape.
The solution to these problems is simple. Always prepare your shrimp separately from the pasta. Cook it in a separate pan before mixing it in with your pasta. You can afford to slightly (and only slightly) undercook the shrimp in its separate pan as the residual heat when it is mixed with pasta and sauce will continue to cook it, but not by much.
What is the Best Shrimp for Pasta
You can use shrimp of any size for pasta, but bigger tends to be better. Those little frozen shrimp you find buried in takeaway Chinese food aren’t great for pasta, which demands more assertive flavors and textures than most fried rice.
Using large or extra-large shrimp usually ensures that your shrimp won’t immediately overcook when added to the pasta. It has the added benefit of looking great when served! The big, curled, pink shrimp are as good to look at as they are to eat.
Always, if you can, get fresh, uncooked shrimp with the shells removed. This makes cooking easier and saves loads of time in the kitchen. You don’t want to get your hands dirty and waste time shelling shrimp when you could be tucking in to this delicious pasta dish.
Can I Use Frozen Broccoli
Frozen broccoli actually works quite well for this pasta dish! Bear in mind that frozen broccoli won’t need to cook for as long a fresh broccoli. Frozen broccoli is already par-cooked (or partially cooked) and won’t take long to defrost, nor to tenderize in the pan.
All you really need to do is add the broccoli to the pan and cook just for a few minutes. The broccoli will turn bright green when it’s ready to eat. Just remember “green for go” and you’ll be fine.
Note that frozen broccoli contains quite a bit of water, and the frozen broccoli will release this water when cooked.
Recipe Ideas for Shrimp and Broccoli Pasta
You can change this recipe so easily and make it all your own! Shrimp, broccoli, and pasta go well with so many flavors that you can really play with the recipe.
You can add pepper flakes, freshly chopped chili, or some Calabrian chili paste to add heat to this dish. The Italians in the Calabria region, as well as those across the sea in Sicily, love chili, and would encourage you to try this.
You can try differently flavored diced tomatoes to add flavor.
Chopped basil or rocket will bring welcome freshness to what can otherwise be a rather salty dish.
If you’re not a fan of shrimp, chicken or a firm fish would make great substitutions. Some people have tried this recipe with pieces of salmon and had great success!
If you’re a vegetarian, leave the shrimp out of this recipe. You’ll also want to use vegetable stock instead of chicken stock. To replace the shrimp, you can try using beans. Either green beans or any of the tinned Italian varieties of beans, like Fagiolo di Atina, white beans native to the Frosinone region.
You can always try fresh mozzarella or goat cheese instead of parmesan, or for a truly authentic experience try parmigiano-reggiano, the ultimate parmesan cheese. Pecorino or grana padano are also great options.
A parsley garnish on a dish with as many flavors as this never goes astray!
More Delicious Shrimp Recipes
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