Well Stocked Pantry: Spicy Shrimp Puttanesca

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My husband almost never cooks. Yes, when I had my back surgery, he was there for me, cup of tea in hand in the morning, oatmeal, even an egg.  But come time for dinner, things would fall apart a bit.

His “signature” dish (as he likes to call it, or I think I made that up because it is only one of a few things he makes) is shrimp with pasta: boil pasta, while pasta is boiling open up a jar of sauce to which you add shrimp.  Cook until the shrimp are done and the pasta is cooked.  Drain pasta and toss with sauce. Done.

I thought I would teach him a thing or two about how to jazz this dish up.


Here is a secret to successful meal planning and quick cooking: if your pantry is well stocked, you can turn plain and simple into intriguing and delightful, without taking too much extra time.

I decided to turn my husband’s simple pasta with shrimp into Spicy Shrimp Puttanesca.  Sounds more interesting, doesn’t it?

Almost all of these ingredients were already in my pantry, the exceptions being the parsley and the fresh salad we ate with it.


In fact, these ingredients were prepped in under five minutes.  And the extra parsley? That will go towards making a parley and walnut pesto.  But that’s for another post.


The salty, briny flavors of the anchovies and capers, the richness of the olives, a splash of fruity balsamic and a bite of red pepper round out this sauce and make for a perfect topping for whole wheat pasta, brown rice, or just about any other whole grain.  Serve with a salad and you have a beautiful dinner in 10 minutes.  Done.


Spicy Shrimp Puttanesca

Makes 4 servings


2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined 
salt and ground black pepper
2 tablespoons capers, drained and rinsed
3/4 cup kalamata olives, pitted and roughly chopped
3 large cloves garlic, minced or pressed
3 anchovy fillets, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (more or less depending on the amount of heat you want)
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
splash of balsamic vinegar


  1. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Season the shrimp with the salt and pepper and cook until they begin to turn pink, about 2 minutes.
  2. Add the capers, olives, garlic and anchovies. Cook for 2 minutes more. Add the tomatoes and simmer until heated through and the flavors meld, about 10 minutes.
  3. Add in the parsley and balsamic and simmer for another minute.  Add more salt and pepper if desired and serve over whole grain of choice.
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