I grew up eating shrimp scampi quite frequently as my dad loved to make it. He always emphasized the importance of not overcooking the shrimp as they continue cooking after being removed from the heat. He still passionately reminds me of this today whenever we cook shrimp together in an effort to avoid “rubbery shrimp.” I followed his instructions very closely and carefully growing up and still do to this day, and I have included those specifics in this pastis shrimp scampi.
This pastis shrimp scampi is a sort of homage to the classic shrimp scampi of my youth but uses pastis, which is a French spirit, instead of wine for a special anise flavor and add tomatoes. Per my dad’s instruction, be sure to only cook each shrimp for a minute and thirty seconds on each side. This will yield perfectly cooked shrimp which you will not regret.
for the shrimp, sauce, & pasta
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ small onion, diced
- 5-6 garlic cloves (depending on your preference), minced
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered and halved
- ½ pound pasta (I used acini de pepe)
- ½ cup bread crumbs (I used homemade sourdough breadcrumbs)
- ⅓ cup Pastis
- ¼ cup lemon juice (from about 1 lemon)
- 4 tablespoons (½ stick) butter
- 1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined (16-20 depending on the size)
for assembly & serving
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 bunch asparagus, trimmed
shrimp, sauce, & pasta steps
Heat the olive oil and onion in a large skillet over medium low heat. Meanwhile, bring a pot of salted water to a boil. When the onion is translucent, after about 5 minutes, add the garlic and cook until lightly golden, about 5 more minutes. Then add the tomatoes and cook until they break down a bit, about 5 more minutes.
At this point, add the pasta to the water and cook for 8-9 minutes.
Returning to the sauce, add the breadcrumbs and cook until they have soaked up some of the liquid, allowing them to absorb the flavor. Add the pastis and lemon juice and cook for about 2 minutes to allow some of the alcohol to burn off. Add the shrimp and cook for about 1 minutes and 30 seconds on one side then flip and cook for another 1 minute and 30 seconds on the other side. Be careful not to overcook the shrimp as they will continue cooking when you remove them.
assembly & serving steps
Serve over pasta with a side salad or greens, I used asparagus. To cook the asparagus, bring a pot of water to a boil and heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium-low heat and add the minced garlic. Place the trimmed asparagus in a colander and pour the boiling water over it to blanch it. Immediately transfer the blanched asparagus to the pan with the olive oil and garlic and cook for 5-6 minutes tender.