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One of the most comforting dishes is a big bowl of pasta with a creamy sauce. My family is especially fond of linguini and shrimp with a lemon garlic cream sauce. I can get this on the table in about 30 minutes. It is excellent with simple roasted garlic bread and a green salad dressed with a lemon vinaigrette to compliment the flavors in the pasta.
I start with cooking dry linguini in well-salted water. I reserve some of the pasta water to add to the sauce to thin it while also giving the sauce some extra body from the starch in the water. While the pasta is cooking, I quickly sauté the shrimp with some minced garlic, being careful not to overcook it to the point that it is chewy.
Using the same large skillet, I make the sauce by simmering cream with lemon zest and a little cayenne pepper flakes. The sauce is finished with parmesan cheese, lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste.
The pasta and shrimp are tossed with the sauce. It is then garnished with fresh parsley and served immediately. I like this pasta dish with a glass of dry sauvignon blanc white wine.
While creamy linguini with shrimp generally doesn’t last long, you can reheat this meal the next day if you happen to have leftovers. I just place it in a skillet over medium heat and add a little cream to thin it. Be sure to only warm the past and shrimp gently so the shrimp don’t become tough. You can also reheat it in the microwave on medium heat.
- 12 ounces of dry linguine pasta
- 1 ½ Tbsp kosher salt
- 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 lb. fresh large shrimp peeled and deveined
- 3 garlic cloves peeled and minced
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 2 tsp lemon zest
- ¼ tsp cayenne pepper flakes more or less to taste
- 4 Tbsp butter cubed
- 1 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- 2-1/2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 1 Tbsp minced flat-leaf parsley leaves for serving
- All ingredients ready? Let's begin!
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add the kosher salt and stir to dissolve. Add the linguini and cook to al dente, about 1 minute shy of the package directions. Reserve 1 cup of the cooking liquid. Drain the pasta in a colander.
- While the pasta is cooking, sauté the shrimp. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil. Add the shrimp and cook for about 1 minute until they start to turn pink on the bottom. Stir in the garlic and cook for approximately 2 minutes longer until the garlic is fragrant and the shrimp is pink but not overcooked. Transfer the shrimp to a serving bowl and set aside.
- Return the pan to the burner and reduce the heat to medium. Add the cream, lemon zest, and cayenne to the skillet and bring to a rolling simmer. Turn the heat down to low and allow the cream to simmer until slightly reduced, approximately 2 minutes.
- Add the butter to the cream and whisk until it melts completely and is incorporated into the cream. Stir in the lemon juice and remove the pan from the heat.
- Add the parmesan and stir until it melts into the sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Add the linguini to the sauce and toss to coat evenly. Thin the sauce with a little of the pasta water if needed.
- Toss the shrimp with the pasta and transfer the pan contents to the serving bowl. Garnish with parsley and serve while warm.
Notes & Tips
- If you have to use frozen shrimp, be sure to defrost them overnight in the refrigerator. Then, pat it very with a paper towel to remove the excess moisture.
- Don’t forget to pull out a cup of pasta water before you drain the linguini. This really adds body to the sauce that plain water can’t do.
- Cook the linguini to al-dente. It will continue to cook while it sits and again when you add it to the hot sauce. Don’t rinse the cooked pasta.
- Be sure to zest your lemon before squeezing to extract the fresh juice. It is very hard to zest a flat lemon peel.
Substitutions & Additions
- Linguini: I like the flat surface and the silky feel of linguini for this dish. You can use regular spaghetti if that is what you have. My father always preferred this dish with penne or ziti because the sauce clings to those shapes so well. You can also make this with gluten-free rice or bean pasta.
- Shrimp: There is no reason you couldn’t make this same recipe with scallops, langoustines, or even lobster meat. For a vegetarian version, try a variety of colorful chopped bell peppers, asparagus tips, or cremini mushrooms. You could even use tempeh.
- Parsley: For a little more flavor, tarragon pairs nicely with shrimp. You could also use basil or chives instead of parsley.
- Toppings: Serve this dish with some extra cheese on the side. I also like to add a crunchy topping. My favorites for creamy pasta dishes are chopped toasted walnuts, crispy bacon pieces, or toasted buttery bread crumbs.