This spaghetti with shrimp recipe comes courtesy of my love for Italy. I’ve been several times now, and I’ve pretty much decided that it’s my favorite place on Earth. For one thing, there are so many different destinations within that one country that you could probably take 20 trips to various areas of Italy and none of them would feel like the others. The rolling hills of Tuscany, rich history of Venice, glamorous Capri, and bustling Rome —they each have their unique aesthetic and culture, and I’m endlessly inspired by them all.
The other reason I’ve officially declared Italy as my favorite destination is that you really cannot beat the food. While I can think of little else besides views of the Amalfi coast and exploring the charming pockets of Rome, I’m mostly dreaming of pasta. And these days, this spaghetti with shrimp recipe is in frequent rotation.
Featured image by Lily Young.
When I’m there, I eat Italian food for every single meal and never get tired of it. And you know what’s funny? Even though I feel like I eat my way through Italy, freely enjoying pasta, fresh mozzarella, gelato, and wine, I come home feeling just as good (if not better) as when I left Austin. I’ve thought a lot about the reason for this secret of the Italians, and I have a couple of theories.
For one thing, I believe that when we’re fully present at our meals, enjoying the flavors of every bite the way they do in Italy, our bodies can metabolize and digest our food properly. When we slow down and truly savor our meals, those fullness signals can reach our brains to let us know we’re satisfied. We’ve taken such pleasure in the experience that we don’t need more. Their other secret? In general, Italians follow the principles of the Mediterranean Diet.
What is the Mediterranean Diet?
The 2022 U.S. News and World Report once again ranked the Mediterranean Diet as the healthiest diet in the world, citing benefits like weight loss, heart and brain health, cancer prevention, and warding off chronic disease. It includes healthy fats like extra virgin olive oil, legumes, lean proteins, vegetables, and (hallelujah!!), pasta. It’s really less of a diet than it is a lifestyle, since staying physically active and gathering with people you care about are key components of the plan.
One of my favorite aspects of the Mediterranean diet is that it doesn’t ban entire food groups. Because for a food lover like me, I’m all about staying healthy without sacrificing a single ounce of my enjoyment in life. And pasta is meant to be enjoyed! It’s perfectly OK in reasonable quantities, and it’s the ideal blank slate to get creative in the kitchen and incorporate all kinds of colorful, healthy, and seasonal ingredients.
How do you cook spaghetti perfectly?
Spaghetti is arguably the most “pasta” shaped noodle, which means it can’t be too hard to perfect, right? Right. All it takes is some salty water and dried noodles and you’re cooking! I could tell you a suggested water-to-pasta ratio (which is about four quarts per pound), but who’s really measuring? A large pot of water at a full, rolling boil and salt is all you need to cook the perfect spaghetti—and don’t even think about swirling oil in the water. Contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t prevent noodles from sticking together and will prevent your delicious sauce from sticking.
As a general rule, you should salt your water with one and a half tablespoons of salt per pound of pasta and cook spaghetti for about eight to ten minutes until it’s al dente. “Test noodles” are encouraged, so be sure to fish some out along the way if you’re feeling snacky. Boiling water + salt = the perfect spaghetti.
What makes this spaghetti with shrimp recipe perfect for summer entertaining?
I created this spaghetti with shrimp recipe with the Mediterranean Diet in mind, as it features exactly those delicious and wholesome ingredients that the diet is built on. This particular recipe is perfect for summer entertaining, too. It’s light but so satisfying, and feels a little bit elevated even though it comes together 20 minutes. It’s one of those “set it in the middle of the table and watch your friends dive in” kind of dinners, served family-style with a good bottle of crisp white wine.
Scroll on for the recipe, and I’d love to hear in the comments if y’all have hopped on the Mediterranean Diet train. For me, it’s a lifestyle that’s feeling (and tasting) really good for my body and soul these days.
This post was originally published on May 29, 2019, and has since been updated.