Penne with Shrimp in Herbed Cream Sauce

Amazingly, I was able to cook twice over the weekend. Saturday, I made the black beans and rice that I was supposed to make during the week. Peanut fell asleep in the carrier and the only think I could do while standing was cook. It was a bit of a challenge, especially washing pots and dishes afterwards, but I did it.


Not the most flattering photo, but I’m kind of beyond that right now.

Sunday, I made Giada’s Penne with Shrimp in Herbed Cream Sauce. I even took some photos, but they didn’t come out great. Still, it is a progress.


I don’t generally cook with heavy cream because 1) it isn’t exactly healthy and 2) I’m not a big fan of thick creamy sauce. When friend who’s been praising this dish for months finally brought some to work, I had to taste it. I was surprised by how light and delicious it was. I think the wine and clam juice helps to break up the heaviness of the cream.

I try to follow any new recipes to the letter. I like having a sense of the base recipe before I deviate and making my own changes. Still, I could tell right away that something wasn’t right about the written recipe which calls for 1/2 cup chopped parsley and 1/2 cup chopped basil. That’s a whole lot of herbs even for a “herbed” cream sauce.

I think the recipe should read 1/2 cup parsley, chopped and 1/2 cup basil, chopped.  I also thought the directions were a little confusing.  Sure enough, the video shows a lot less herbs being chopped and the directions were closer to how I would have made this dish.  The written recipe below reflects the changes I made.  Or go follow Giada’s video for better results.

I added 1 1/2 pounds of shrimp because my family loves shrimp and we can never have enough. If adding more shrimp, cook them in two batches to avoid over cooking. Remember, over cooked shrimp = rubbery tough shrimp.


Penne with Shrimp in Herbed Cream Sauce
*Adapted from Giada De Laurentiis of FoodNetwork

Prep time: 10 mins     Cook time:  20 mins

Serves: 4


1 pound penne pasta
3 tablespoon olive oil
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 – 1.5 pound medium shrimp, peeled, and deveined
1/4 teaspoon sea salt, plus extra for seasoning
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus extra for seasoning
1/8 teaspoon (or just a pinch) crushed pepper flakes
1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained, roughly chopped a little finer (or use petite diced tomatoes)
1 cup white wine
1/3 cup clam juice
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano


In a large pot, bring to boil salted water. Add the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain the pasta and set aside.

In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the garlic, shrimp, 1/4 teaspoon of salt, 1/4 teaspoon of pepper and a pinch of red pepper flakes. Cook until the bottom starts to turn pink and flip and cook the other side. Using a slotted spoon, remove the shrimp immediately and set aside. If needed, cook the shrimp in two batches.

Add the tomatoes and cook for 2 minutes until the tomatoes starts to soften. Add the wine, clam juice, and heavy cream. Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer 5 – 6 minutes until the sauce thickens. Add the basil and parsley, reserving about a tablespoon worth for garnish, at the last minute and stir. Season the sauce with salt and pepper to taste. Add the cooked shrimp to the sauce and stir to coat and heat through. Add the cooked pasta and grated Parmigiano and toss together until all ingredients are well coated.

Transfer the pasta to a large serving bow, sprinkle with remaining herbs and some extra grated cheese. This dish pairs well with simple steamed broccoli.


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