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Simple Weeknight Shrimp Scampi

Date night worthy pasta dish in under 30 minutes. This simple shrimp scampi is my go-to throw-together dinner recipe that is always a showstopper.

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What if I told you I could show you how to make a show-stopper pasta dish that goes from fridge to table in as little as 20 minutes? One that’s worthy of serving at a dinner party, for a date night, or for a treat yo’self night in? Would you believe me?

YOU SHOULD. Because this is it.

This simple shrimp scampi dinner is one I threw together with random ingredients I had leftover in my fridge one weeknight this past summer. I really didn’t feel like cooking that night. It was hot, I was feeling tired from a long day, and I was too lazy to freshen up and go out to dinner at a proper restaurant. So I pulled out a few ingredients I had leftover from other recipes that week and just…wung it. winged it? I made it up as I went along.

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What came out of the kitchen was this delicious dish that packed some serious flavor. It’s heavy on the garlic and herbs, with a spicy kick from both the cayenne pepper and red pepper flakes.

The beauty of this dish is that the herbs and intensity of seasoning are completely customizable. Don’t like spicy? No problem, leave out the cayenne and red pepper flakes. Like it a little saltier? Salt it up, babe. Swap oregano for any other herb you like. Use vegetable stock instead of chicken, sake instead of white wine… play with it as much as you’d like! The options are endless.

The trick to the speed of this dinner is preparing all of your ingredients before you fire up the stove. This is called getting your “mise-en-place” (which translates to “everything in its place”) ready. I had a culinary professor tell me once that 90% of cooking is organization. The rest is easy. And I believe this! If you measure out your ingredients ahead of time and get all the tools you’ll need out and within reach, then all you have to do is combine items as you move through the recipe. Your attention isn’t divided, and you save MAJOR time.

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All that to say… this is a winner of a recipe. I don’t usually like to toot my own horn, but this is easily my favorite go-to recipe for those nights I want something tasty that will require almost no effort.

Tag me in your shrimp scampi photos on Instagram (@dinnergeeks) so I can see your creations!! I’d love to know how you liked it.

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Simple Weeknight Shrimp Scampi

  • 1/4 c white wine

  • 1 T oregano

  • 1/2 t salt

  • 1/2 t pepper

  • pinch red pepper flakes

  • 1 t pesto paste

  • 1 T butter, unsalted

  • 4 oz spaghetti

Ingredients

  • 8 oz raw shrimp, peeled and deveined

  • 1 t salt

  • 1/2 t pepper

  • 1/4 t sugar

  • pinch cayenne pepper

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

  • 2 T olive oil

  • 3/4 c chicken stock

Instructions

  1. In a medium bowl, combine 1 teaspoon of salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, 1/4 t. sugar, and a pinch of cayenne pepper. Set aside.

  2. Peel and devein shrimp and lay them out in a single layer on a sheet of paper towel. Pat the tops down with a second piece of paper towel. Transfer to the medium bowl with the seasoning mix you just made.

  3. In a separate small bowl, combine 1 T. oregano, 1/2 t. salt, 1/2 t. pepper, and a pinch of red pepper flakes. Set aside.

  4. In a measuring cup, combine 3/4 c. chicken stock and 1/4 c. white wine. Set this aside as well. Your “mise-en-place” (translates to “everything in its place) is now complete, and you’re ready to get cooking!

  5. Bring a pot of water to boil over high heat. Cook spaghetti according to directions, then drain and set aside. Meanwhile, get started on the sauce.

  6. Heat 2 T. olive oil in a nonstick skillet over medium heat. You’ll know the oil is hot enough when you feel warmth on the palm of your hand as you hover it over the pan. If you look closely, you’ll see very slight movement in the oil known as “shimmering,” and you’re ready to throw in the garlic.

  7. Add garlic to the pan and sauté until you can just begin to smell the garlic. This should take about 30 seconds to one minute. Be careful not to brown the garlic as this will add a bitterness to the dish.

  8. Add the chicken stock/wine along with the oregano/red pepper flake spice mixture and 1 t. pesto paste. Simmer over medium heat until the sauce has reduced by about half. Depending on how hot your stove runs, this could take anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes. 

  9. When the sauce is reduced slightly, stir in 1 T. unsalted butter, then add shrimp in a single layer in your skillet and cook for three minutes. Flip shrimp, cover, and cook for an additional two minutes or until shrimp are pink and opaque. 

  10. Fold cooked spaghetti into shrimp and wine sauce. Top with grated parmesan cheese and serve immediately.

Recipe Notes

You can use any pasta you’d like, but I’ve had the most success with spaghetti or fettuccini. If using dried pasta, cook according to the directions on the box (it’ll usually take between 7 and 12 minutes to cook to al dente). If using fresh pasta, you’ll only need to boil it for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes.