This Creamy Cajun Shrimp Pasta was inspired by a favorite New Orleans dish. The creamy sauce with the slightly spicy, buttery shrimp is to die for!
This Creamy Cajun Shrimp Pasta reminds me of the delicious food we ate on my husband’s work conference in New Orleans last fall. There are so many yummy cajun/creole recipes that are unique to that area that I am dying to learn how to cook. I keep kicking myself that I didn’t buy a cookbook while I was there. I guess I am just going to have to go back!
Back to this Creamy Cajun Shrimp Pasta, there is a reason why you don’t use pre-cooked shrimp. If you do, you will be sorry. The shrimp will be overcooked and rubbery. Also, buying fresh or frozen is usually less expensive than buying pre-cooked shrimp. I found a great article on preparing and deveining shrimp frozen or fresh shrimp after I made this mistake of trying this recipe with pre-cooked shrimp. I’ve included some highlights here, but you can find more information and photos here at recipetips.com
Check for Freshness
- Fresh shrimp should smell clean, refrain from shrimp that smells of ammonia.
- At the fish market, fresh shrimp should be stored in or on ice.
- If you purchase frozen shrimp, avoid shrimp that was peeled and deveined prior to freezing. The practice of cleaning the shrimp before freezing may cause a loss of flavor and texture.
- Be aware of leakage or frozen surface ice on frozen shrimp. These are signs that the shrimp has been defrosted and refrozen and should be avoided.
- “Refresh” frozen shrimp by soaking in salted water, 1 to 2 tbsp of salt to 1 quart of water. The best way to keep shrimp fresh while preparing them is to keep them in ice water. Return the cleaned shrimp to the ice water until you are ready to cook them. Pat the shrimp dry with a paper towel before cooking.
- The black vein that runs along the back of shrimp is the digestive tract. Typically, whether veins are in or out, seldom is there a flavor difference unless the vein is large and contains a high volume of grit and digested material. It is removed more for the appearance than taste. The decision to remove the digestive tract is based on personal preference.
- Prepping shrimp can be as simple as rinsing them in fresh water. If the recipe calls for removing the head, gently pull of the head and discard. Most often, shrimp is purchased with the head already removed.
- To remove the shell, begin by holding the shrimp firmly and pulling off the legs.
- An alternative technique is to remove the legs at the same time the shell is removed. Using your thumbs, peel back the sides of the shrimps shell. Pluck away any legs that remain after the shell has been removed.
- Peel the shell away from the body. The tail of the shrimp can be removed at the same time by simply holding the body of the shrimp and pulling away the tail. The shell will come off with the tail. Removing the tail is optional.
- To devein the shrimp with a small utility knife, make a shallow cut down the back of the shrimp to expose the vein.
- Once the vein is exposed, pull the intestine out with the knife, a toothpick, or your fingers.
We’ve had some great suggestions from some of our readers on additions they have made to this Creamy Cajun Shrimp Pasta. Here are their tips:
- Add capers.
- If you like it spicier, use a red Fresno pepper instead of a red bell pepper.
- Use fresh cherry tomatoes as a garnish.
- Use chicken instead of shrimp.
- Stir together and coat the shrimp in cajun seasoning. In a large fry pan over medium heat, melt the butter and add the seasoned shrimp and sauté until shrimp begins to turn pink. Add the red pepper and minced garlic and sauté another minute or two.
- Reduce heat to medium-low and add the cream, parmesan cheese, basil, and pepper and simmer for about 10 minutes (I like to cook the pasta while this is simmering).
- Toss in the cooked pasta and stir to coat.
Other Favorite Recipes from New Orleans
We are big fans of the delicious flavors in New Orleans and have made a bunch of yummy copycat recipes from our visits there.
- Mini Beignets
- Creamy Cajun Shrimp Pasta
- Mint Juleps
- Cajun Chicken Po’ Boys
- Pecan Pralines
- Creole Butter Shrimp
- Cajun Style Grill Foil Packets
- One Pot Jambalaya Pasta
- Red Beans and Rice
- Shrimp Po Boys with Creamy Cajun Sauce
Just for fun, I added some pics from our trip below to help you get in a “Nawlins” mood while cooking. Here are a few fun pictures from our trip to New Orleans, such a beautiful and unique city full of great culture and music.