Entertaining/ Main Course

Shrimp Pasta with Tomatoes, Feta, and Olives

May 30, 2019
shrimp pasta with tomatoes, feta, and olives

I don’t know about you, but I love the combination of tomatoes, olives, and feta. And sometimes I just can’t wait for summer tomatoes to indulge. This Shrimp Pasta with Tomatoes, Feta, and Olives is perfect for almost any time of year because it calls for cherry tomatoes—which you can find almost year-round, and which cook up almost as tasty as their summer cousins in this sauce. Bonus, this is a perfect weeknight recipe because you can have it on the table in under a half an hour, even if you take the shrimp directly out of the freezer before starting!

Full recipe below, but here are the basics: boil pasta and while pasta is boiling, heat olive oil in a skillet and cook cherry tomatoes until softened and slightly browned. Then add shrimp, olives, garlic, and herbs, and cook until shrimp turn pink. Toss with the cooked pasta and feta cheese, and eat!

ingredients for shrimp pasta: shrimp, tomatoes, garlic, olives, feta

Ingredient Tips:

  • Herbs: My shrimp pasta recipe calls for Penzey’s Sunny Paris Seasoning, which I adore, but you can substitute other dried herbs that you have around the house, such as basil, oregano, or herbes de provence. But if you’re curious, Sunny Paris includes dried purple shallots, chives, green peppercorn, French basil, French tarragon, chervil, bay leaf, and dill weed. It is delicious on fried or scrambled eggs, and it’s wonderful in salad dressing, like in my Meyer Lemon Dijon Vinaigrette.  
  • Feta Cheese: This recipe benefits from the best feta you can find. You want to look for feta packed in brine, and not pre-crumbled. Pre-crumbled feta is nearly always too dry, and you will taste the difference if you use the good stuff in this recipe.
  • Shrimp: You can use any size shrimp for this recipe, but I prefer to use ones on the smaller side. That way, you don’t have to cut them when you are eating your pasta. And, they’re cheaper! I always keep a bag of frozen shrimp in my freezer for dinner emergencies. If you buy the peeled and deveined ones, you can defrost them quickly and throw them in. See below:

How to Defrost Shrimp:

  • My favorite method for defrosting shrimp is to put the shrimp into a colander in your sink and turn on the faucet. Usually I set mine to the spray setting since the water will then hit more of the shrimp at once. Use cool water, not hot. Let it run for about 5 minutes, tossing the shrimp around every now and then to make sure the water is hitting all the shrimp evenly. When they are all thawed, turn the water off and shake the colander well to drain any remaining water. Then use paper towels to pat the shrimp as dry as possible.

Recipe Tips:

  • You might wonder why I cook the tomatoes first in this shrimp pasta recipe. The reason is that if you added them at the same time as the shrimp, the tomatoes would be barely cooked by the time the shrimp were done. And as tomatoes cook, they release some of their liquid, which then evaporates as you continue to cook—you’re left with a more concentrated tomato flavor, which helps if you don’t have perfectly ripe summer tomatoes!
cooked down cherry tomatoes
  • On the other hand, I add the feta cheese at the very end of this recipe. The reason for that is so the feta cheese is interspersed throughout the dish, but not fully melted. Of course there is nothing wrong with having the feta melt completely into the sauce, but I prefer the pops of salty cheese goodness that you get when you bite into a small chunk of intact feta. 
  • Reserving pasta water: you may wonder why my recipe calls for you to reserve pasta water before you drain your pasta. Well, this one trick will up your pasta game significantly. As you cook pasta, some of its starch is released into the water it is being cooked in. Reserving some of that water, and then adding it back into your pan after you have drained the pasta helps the pasta adhere to whatever sauce you are adding to it.
  • For example, when I make my daughter’s favorite buttered noodles, I reserve 1/4 c pasta water and then drain the noodles. Then I put the noodles back into the pan along with a couple of tablespoons of butter and some parmesan cheese. Adding just a couple of tablespoons of the reserved pasta water brings it all together into a creamy, buttery sauce. It’s the same concept here, where adding the pasta water at the end can help coat all of the pasta with the sauce. 

Hope you are ready to try this quick and easy shrimp pasta recipe—it’s delicious, and your family will definitely approve. If you’re looking for more easy weeknight meals that everyone will love, check out my Creamy Orzo Chicken recipe, my Parmesan Barley Grain Bowl recipe, or my Fresh Spring Rolls recipe.

Shrimp Pasta with Tomatoes, Feta, and Olives

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By Molly Madigan Pisula Serves: 4
Prep Time: 10 min Cooking Time: 15 min

This easy shrimp pasta recipe is a great weeknight meal and features delicious greek-inspired flavors of fresh tomatoes, feta cheese, and black olives.

Ingredients

  • 2 pints cherry tomatoes
  • 8 oz. penne pasta
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 1 lb. shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1/3 c. pitted kalamata olives, halved (about 2 oz)
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 1 t. Penzey's Sunny Paris seasoning, or dried basil, oregano, or herbes de provence
  • 1/4 t. kosher salt
  • 1/4 t. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 c. crumbled feta cheese (about 2.5 oz)
  • fresh basil leaves, for garnish (optional)

Instructions

1

Rinse tomatoes, pat dry, and cut in half.

2

Bring a large saucepan of water to boil. Add pasta when water is boiling, and cook according to package directions until al dente. Reserve 1/4 c. pasta cooking water before draining penne and set aside.

3

Meanwhile, heat oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, then add tomatoes. Cook for 10 minutes until slightly browned and softened. Turn down the heat if they begin to burn.

4

Add shrimp, olives, garlic, sunny paris seasoning, salt, and pepper. Cook for about 2-3 minutes, until shrimp turn pink and are opaque and cooked through.

5

Add cooked penne and toss until all is hot.

6

Add in the reserved pasta water a tablespoon or two at a time until you have a nice creamy sauce.

7

Add feta at the very end, take off the heat, and toss gently. Taste and add more salt and pepper if necessary, and garnish with torn or chopped basil leaves if you’d like.

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