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Spicy Basil Shrimp Fettuccine

Spicy Basil Shrimp in tomato cream sauce

In less than half an hour, you could be sitting down to late-winter comfort food at its best: warm sauce and pasta with enough spice to wake you up and make you think of the approaching spring and summer. This is the perfect dish for a weeknight meal or a Lenten Friday supper.

Firm, springy shrimp are immersed in a tangy, creamy, tomato sauce with a slow-building spicy heat from garlic and crushed red pepper and surrounded by the freshness of bright, sweet basil. The sauce coats the shrimp and the firm, nutty-tasting Hodgson Mill Whole Wheat Fettuccine. (If you like, you can also make this dish with  Organic Whole Wheat Fettuccine with Milled Flaxseed for the added benefits of flaxseed and organic wheat, or for a gluten-free option, use Gluten-Free Brown Rice Linguine with Golden Milled Flaxseed)

spices, basil, shrimp, pasta - ingredients, mise en place

And with just a tablespoon of sour cream, a splash of olive oil, and a sprinkling of parmesan cheese per serving, this dish is big on flavor but low in fat. It tastes really rich and satisfying thanks to the combination of big flavors: the lean protein of shrimp and nutty, wholesome taste and goodness of Hodgson Mill whole wheat pasta.

A note about using shrimp: I’m lucky enough to live on the east coast where there’s an abundance of fresh seafood, but frozen shrimp can work really well in this recipe, too. I’ve tried both pre-cooked and raw (both pre-peeled and deveined) frozen shrimp. The best part about using frozen shrimp – other than that it’s probably fresher if you don’t live on a coast – is that it will keep in your freezer. Add a few other pantry-friendly ingredients – dried basil, canned chopped tomatoes, parmesan, and pasta – and you’ll always have a good base in hand for a quick weeknight meal.

shrimpy shrimp

Trying to be a good environmental citizen, I checked out the sustainable seafood recommendations and found that Environmental Defense Fund Seafood Selector suggests that US shrimp, either farmed or wild, is a fairly ecofriendly choice, and since that’s what was available to me, I used it in this recipe. (FYI, they list the eco-best choices as pink shrimp from Oregon and spot prawns from Canada, and they caution against imported shrimp).

To begin, start a large pot of water boiling, so you can be ready to cook the pasta. If you’re using frozen shrimp, you’ll need to defrost it first (running it under cold water in a colander worked for me, but check the packaging).

whole wheat fettucine cooking and draining

One of the things I’ve grown to love about whole wheat pasta is that you can’t easily slurp these hearty strands like you can with wimpy pasta made with white flour. (I’m biased. I really did grow up with whole wheat pasta, and it’s hard to go back.) The texture slows you down in just the right way to help you control portion size, and the whole wheat goodness helps you feel sated.

Next, in a large saucepan heat up some olive oil, then sauté minced garlic and crushed red pepper flakes for a minute until they’re sizzling, which helps to bring out their prominent flavors. Add the defrosted shrimp; they’ll steam and almost immediately start to turn pink. It’s so quick; it’s like a magic trick.

sauteing spicy garlic, cayenne, shrimp

Once the shrimp have barely cooked through and turned opaque, add the rest of the tomato sauce ingredients, simmer for a few minutes, and then finish it off with sour cream. The tomato sauce will turn a gorgeous orange-pink color when the sour cream is mixed in, and the beautiful color blends right in with the shrimp.

adding tomato, basil, & sour cream for sauce

If you don’t have any sour cream on hand, I successfully substituted whipping cream mixed with lemon juice (1 teaspoon lemon juice to 1 tablespoon heavy cream). And just like that, you’re ready to serve!

(And if you happen to buy a whole container of sour cream for this dish and don’t know how you’ll use the rest of it, consider this Hodgson Mill recipe for Tangy Sour Cream and Onion Biscuits. Or, check out one of Hodgson Mill’s blogger contest participants and second-place winner in the 2011 Have a GRAIN Holiday baking contest, Rook No. 17. Her contest entry this year was for a Chocolate Gingerbread Bundt Cake that uses sour cream along with several Hodgson Mill whole wheat flours. (I was rooting for it.)


Back to our recipe: This creamy tomato sauce makes me think of tomato soup or Spaghetti-Os®, but this is a very grown-up dish given the level of spice –that is, unless you’re raising your kids to be spice fiends. Therefore, I’m including a range of spice in this recipe because I know not everyone is a fan of spicy foods. If you are hesitant to have too much of a kick, then start with a ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper and cut back to 4 garlic cloves. My sweet spot is a heaping ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper with 6 cloves of garlic, but I even enjoyed the fiery dish that resulted when I upped it even further to ¾ teaspoon. (Yes, it made that much difference. I’m really just a spice wimp with an adventurous streak.)

last bites

Heap a portion of the cooked fettuccine into a bowl and spoon the shrimp sauce over it. Garnish with a little sharp parmesan and more chopped basil and add a green salad on the side to round out the meal. You just might forget that this restaurant-caliber dish came out of your own kitchen and instead think you wandered into a nice Italian place for dinner.

Spicy Basil Shrimp with Whole Wheat Fettuccine


  • 1 16-ounce package Hodgson Mill Whole Wheat Fettuccine (see notes)
  • ¼ – ¾ teaspoon crushed red pepper (to taste)
  • 4-6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 25 ounces chopped tomatoes (about 5 Roma tomatoes, or 2 cans, or one box such as Pomi)
  • 1 Tablespoon tomato paste
  • 16 ounces shrimp, peeled, deveined and defrosted if frozen
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 Tablespoons sour cream
  • 2 teaspoons dried basil, or 4 tablespoons chopped fresh
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ cup parmesan cheese (optional)


Bring a large pot of water to boil and add salt if desired. Cook fettuccine according to package directions. Drain, cover and keep warm.

In a large saucepan over medium-low heat, heat olive oil and sauté minced garlic andred pepper flakes for one minute, until sizzling and fragrant.

Add raw shrimp (defrosted if frozen) and sauté until springy and opaque, about 3-4 minutes. (If you are using pre-cooked shrimp, you can skip this step, and just add the cooked shrimp with the rest of the ingredients, below.)

Add chopped tomatoes, tomato paste, basil and salt and bring sauce to gentle boil for 1 minute. Reduce to simmer for 3-5 more minutes to let some water escape. Add sour cream, stir until combined, and turn off heat. Serve immediately, or cover and keep warm.

To serve, put 1/2 cup of fettuccine in a bowl and spoon sauce and shrimp over the top. Garnish with fresh basil and top with 1 tablespoon parmesan (if desired).


Keeps 1-2 days with pasta and sauce mixed and kept in sealed container in fridge. Reheat gently in microwave or on stovetop – shrimp will become tougher if overcooked. Substitutions: Can also use Hodgson Mill Organic Whole Wheat Fettuccine with Milled Flaxseed or  Hodgson Mill Gluten-Free Brown Rice Linguine with Golden Milled Flaxseed.


Serves 3-4 as a main dish

Adapted slightly from Cooking Light’s Spicy Shrimp and Fettuccine


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Author: Erin

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