Ready in just a half hour, our shrimp scampi recipe tosses plump shrimp with al dente linguine in a buttery, garlicky, white wine sauce with fresh tomatoes and lemon zest. It’s Italian seafood for minimalists who don’t want to sacrifice time or flavor — cause this shrimp doesn’t scrimp!
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Did you think that “scampi” was a way of preparing shrimp? So did we! Turns out, scampi (a.k.a. langoustines) are a whole different animal: they look like little pink lobsters with extra-long pincers. But since shrimp are easier to find in the U.S., Italian-American chefs lost the scampi and kept the name. So calling the dish “shrimp scampi” is actually a bit of a misnomer (like calling something “pork beef”) — but we just call it an impressively easy (or easily impressive) 30-minute pasta dinner!
One of the big complaints about making scampi made at home is that the sauce comes out too thin. That’s why our recipe has you reserve some of the pasta cooking water; the starch helps that delicious buttery sauce cling to the pasta so you don’t end up with bland noodles and an inch of sauce at the bottom of your bowl. (Although hopefully you’ll have a little left over because one of the best parts of eating scampi is mopping up the extra sauce with some crusty bread.)
Chef Alexandra Guarnaschelli explained to Food & Wine why white wine lends a subtle fruity brightness to sauces: “It’s great for adding acidity to rich dishes. It’s a lot like adding vinegar to olive oil when you’re making a vinaigrette. In my mind, if I’m making a beef stew, I imagine the beef is the olive oil and the wine is the vinegar, and I try to strike a balance between the two ingredients.” The real reason we like our shrimp scampi with white wine? Because we can have a tipple while we cook! But if you prefer to cook without wine, just leave it out of this recipe and you won’t miss it.
Shrimp Scampi with Linguine
Makes 4 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
- 10 ounces (⅔ pound) linguine pasta
- 3 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 4 Tablespoons butter, divided
- 3-5 garlic cloves, minced (about 2 Tablespoons, or to taste)
- ½ teaspoon chili flakes, or to taste
- ½ cup dry white wine
- ground black pepper, to taste
- kosher salt, to taste
- 1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 1 cup diced tomatoes (optional)
- zest and juice of 1 lemon
- ¼ cup chopped parsley leaves
- Cook the linguini according to your own preferences or the package instructions. Drain the pasta, saving and setting aside about ½ cup of the pasta cooking water. Toss the cooked pasta with 1 tablespoon of olive oil to prevent it from sticking together.
- In a large pan over medium heat, melt half of the butter with the remaining olive oil. Add the minced garlic and chili flakes and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the white wine, pepper, and salt, and bring it to a simmer. Allow the sauce to simmer for 2-3 minutes, or until it is reduced by half.
- Add the shrimp to pan and cook, stirring often, until it’s just cooked through (about 2 to 4 minutes, depending on the size of your shrimp).
- Add the diced tomatoes, if using.
- Add the cooked pasta and the remaining butter to the pan. Mix with tongs to combine.
- Add half of the lemon juice, the lemon zest, and a couple tablespoons of the reserved pasta cooking water. Warm it on medium low heat until all of the ingredients are heated through.
- Taste the pasta and adjust the seasoning with additional salt, lemon juice, and more chili flakes, if desired. You can also adjust the consistency of the sauce with more of the pasta cooking water, if desired.
- Stir in chopped parsley. Serve immediately