Pink shrimp sauce with cream

Pink shrimp sauce with cream | Photo by BNF

It’s no secret that the sauce in a simple pasta recipe can either make or break the dish.

The pasta, like tofu, is often the blank canvass waiting to be painted. So it’s important not to pick a dud.

Success: Granny Zeller’s marinara. Failure: Spaghetti carbonara.

Italian food expert Marcella Hazan adeptly explains about the tradition of tomato sauce in Italy:

No other preparation is more successful in delivering the prodigious satisfactions of Italian cooking than a competently executed sauce with tomatoes; no flavor expresses more clearly the genius of Italian cooks than the freshness, the immediacy, the richness of good tomatoes adroitly matched to the most suitable choice of pasta. – Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking

I often find myself debating whether to go with the more traditional tomato sauces or branch over to the creamier variety.

(Any excuse to use heavy cream, right? Over the holidays, my father-in-law showed me how lovely heavy cream tastes in coffee. That evil, evil man.)

But lucky for me, this recipe has both tomato and cream. And a bonus … shrimp!

The only issue I ran into was when it came time to purée 2/3 of the shrimp. I used a food processor (you can also use a blender) and, well, it just got to the point where I couldn’t get the shrimp to spin around any more. What was left was an only slightly not-pureed bits of shrimp.

“Does this have grits in it?” – my husband.

But shrimp bits aside, this pink shrimp sauce with cream is delicious. Like, really, really delicious. It’s rich and creamy (and tomato-ey) and creates this mellowed yummy blend of flavor that goes really well on top of tortellini.

Try it. You’ll thank me later.

What you’ll need:

  • 1/2 pound medium shrimp
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped fine
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons tomato paste dissolved in 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • salt
  • black pepper, ground fresh from the mill
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • tortellini (or 1 pound other pasta)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley


Shell the shrimp, cut them in half lengthwise, removing the vein, and rinse under cold running water.

Put the olive oil and chopped garlic in a saucepan, and turn on the heat to medium. Cook the garlic, stirring it, until it becomes colored a very pale gold, then add the tomato paste and wine solution. Pour it in all at once quickly to avoid spattering. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring from time to time.

Add the shrimp, salt and liberal grindings of pepper, and turn up the heat to medium high. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, turning the shrimp over frequently to coat well. Remove the man from heat.

With a slotted spoon, retrieve about 2/3 of the shrimp from the pan, and purée them in the food processor or a blender.

Return the pureed shrimp to the pan. Turn on the heat to medium, add the cream, and cook for about 1 minute, stirring constantly, until the cream thickens. Taste and correct for salt and pepper.

Toss the sauce with cooked drained pasta. Add the chopped parsley, toss again, and serve at once


[Source: Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking by Marcella Hazan]

Pink shrimp sauce with cream | Photo by BNF


8 Responses to Pink shrimp sauce with cream

  1. Ellie says:

    Very nice! It looks yummy! Not necessarily the healthiest, but very yummy.

  2. Any excuse to use heavy cream, right? … I love it. Great recipe.

  3. Rachel says:

    shrimp=delicious. i’m skeptical of pureeing them, but if you say so, i’ll take your word for it!

    • Haha – it does seem a little strange. But you actually leave 1/3 of them to go on top, and it tastes like shrimp … just over tortellini. (Yeah, I guess you’ll have to take my word for it.)


  4. idiot says:

    I just made this recipe with fresh fettucine except I kept all the prawns whole (butterflyed) and added some cheap, chopped white fish for filler. It was ace.

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