Spring Shrimp Scampi with Peas and Mint

Fish and SeafoodPastaShrimp

Pasta for dinner! This riff on shrimp scampi adds peas, lemon, and fresh mint for a pasta dinner that's ready for spring.

Photography Credit: Sheryl Julian

Shrimp are magical in a dish like this one. They’re pretty and curvy and juicy. Toss them with spaghetti, a little ricotta, peas, lemon, and mint, and you have a scampi-style pasta that’s perfect for spring.

Look for large or jumbo frozen shrimp

I call the plump shrimp in this dish scampi because they’re the largest ones in the market—sometimes labeled “large” or “jumbo,” or with a number like “16/20” (which means 16 to 20 pieces in a pound). If shrimp is the main protein in the pasta, you want big pieces so they stand out.

In New England, where I live, most shrimp are raised elsewhere and flown in frozen. If like me, you don’t have access to fresh shrimp, go to the freezer section of the market and find a bag of frozen shrimp. This is often the better and fresher choice than the “previously frozen” shrimp that the market has thawed and put on display in the seafood case.

Another point in favor of shrimp from the frozen section: they are usually frozen individually so you can pour out what you want for a dish, defrost them yourself, and stick what you don’t need back in the freezer for another meal.

Bags of frozen shrimp are also typically cheaper per pound than the shrimp in the fish case.

Spring Shrimp Scampi in pot

A QUICK MEAL ON BUSY NIGHTS

Here, the shrimp are sautéed quickly with crushed red pepper, then tipped into a pot of cooked spaghetti. Once the pasta and shrimp are tossed together, the rest of the meal takes minutes: just add peas, herbs, and some ricotta, and stir until everything is warmed through.

This makes this an ideal dish for nights when you don’t have a whole lot of time to cook. Let the shrimp work their magic, nestled with peas on strands of lemon- and mint-scented spaghetti.

MORE WAYS TO ENJOY SHRIMP FOR DINNER

Spring Shrimp Scampi with Peas and Mint Recipe

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  • Prep time: 20 minutes
  • Cook time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 pound thin spaghetti
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, cut in half
  • 1 1/2 pounds large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper, or more to taste
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) whole milk ricotta
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 1/2 cups (8 ounces) frozen peas, rinsed with cold water to defrost
  • 2 tablespoons whole fresh mint leaves

Method

1 Cook the spaghetti: Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add 1 teaspoon of the salt and the spaghetti. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 8 minutes, or until the pasta is tender but still has some bite.

Scoop out 1 1/2 cups of starchy pasta cooking water with a heatproof measuring cup. Drain the spaghetti and, without rinsing, return it to the pan. Add 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water and 1 tablespoon of olive oil; toss well and set aside. Reserve the remaining pasta cooking water.

2 Cook the shrimp: In a skillet over medium-high heat, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil. When it is hot, add the garlic. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the shrimp, black pepper, and crushed red pepper.

Cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes, or until the shrimp start to turn bright pink; they will not be fully cooked at this point. Scoop out and remove the garlic. Tip the shrimp and chili flakes into the pot with the pasta.

How to Make Shrimp Scampi add the shrimp to the pasta

3 Finish the dish: Set the pot of pasta over low heat. Add the ricotta, parsley, lemon zest, and 1/2 cup of the remaining pasta cooking liquid.

Cook, stirring gently, until the liquid heats up and the shrimp are pink and cooked all the way through. Add more of the reserved pasta water if the mixture seems dry. Add the peas and mint and toss gently until the peas are hot.

Easy Shrimp Scampi Recipe

4 Serve: Divide among 4 shallow bowls and serve.

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Sheryl Julian

Sheryl Julian is an award-winning writer, editor, and food stylist. She is the former food editor of The Boston Globe, co-author of The Way We Cook, and editor of The New Boston Globe Cookbook. Her food sections won Best Newspaper Food Coverage from the Association of Food Journalists in 2015.

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3 Comments / Reviews

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Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. John Pelle

    Just wondering if there are many lactose intolerant Italian or Mexican dishes? I love both but are full of cheese?

    • Emma Christensen

      Hi, John! Emma here, managing editor. Yes, it can feel challenging to find good Italian and Mexican recipes if you’re lactose intolerant, can’t it?! But there are plenty to be found! For Italian food, look for tomato-based pastas, like puttanesca and primavera, and for soups like Italian Wedding Soup and Minestrone. For Mexican cuisine, tacos and fajitas are always a great choice, as well as soups like posole. Enjoy!

  2. Rhonda @ Change In Seconds

    That looks amazing!

How to Make Shrimp ScampiSpring Shrimp Scampi with Peas and Mint