I really do love a good pasta night, who doesn’t? Which is why we probably have pasta at least once a week. I love to use whatever ingredients I have on hand and create something new each and every time. Typically these random pasta creations end up turning into total home runs. Which is why I need to start documenting them! They are also simple and always easy enough for beginner cooks to handle.

This shrimp penne is a combo of fresh basil and San Marzano tomatoes. A little onion, garlic and some cream to balance out the bitterness in the tomatoes. Tons of pantry staples and some fresh herbs to lighten things up – that’s how I like my pasta. No matter what, I know I’ll always have some combinations of ingredients to make a great pasta dinner.

If you don’t already, I recommend you keep your pantry stocked with dry pasta, canned tomatoes (San Marzano are my fav), garlic, onion (or shallots), tomato paste, pesto, sun dried tomatoes, artichokes, olives, olive oil, etc. these are all really good items to keep on hand 24/7. Their shelf life is fairly long so you can always pull a few of these items out for a quick dinner! These are things I stock up on all the time and it definitely pays off on busy days I don’t feel like slaving in the kitchen. Some fridge staples I love to keep handy are heavy cream, Parmesan, mozzarella, fresh herbs (basil, parsley, thyme, rosemary, etc). As for the freezer? All the meat. Shrimp, fish, ground beef, turkey, chicken, etc. I can’t eat meat quick enough if I buy in bulk (which I always do since it’s cheaper and more convenient) so I love to keep it in the freezer and thaw it as I need it.

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Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 35 minutes

Total time: 50 minutes

Serves: 4-5 dinner portions


  • 1 lb penne pasta
  • 4 tbsp butter, salted
  • 1 lb large white shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 small yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 28 oz can San Marzano tomatoes
  • 1 cup fresh basil
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt, more or less to taste
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes, can omit or add less
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tbsp Parmesan, grated (plus more for garnishing)
  • 1 tbsp Italian parsley, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup reserved pasta water


  1. Cook pasta according to package instructions. Drain but do not rinse. Reserve 1 cup pasta water for later use. Set aside.
  2. Dry shrimp off with paper towels. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Place the San Marzano tomatoes and fresh basil into a blender and pulse a few times until tomatoes are slightly broken up. The mixture should still be slightly chunky. Set aside for now.
  4. Heat a large tall sided pot (like Le Creuset) to medium heat. Add in butter and allow to melt completely. Then add in the shrimp and cook for about 2 minutes a side until shrimp are pink and cooked through. Remove the shrimp from the pot once cooked and set aside.
  5. Do not rinse the pot. Immediately add in onion and garlic. Sauté for a few minutes until aromatic. Add in the San Marzano tomato mixture, sugar, salt to taste, red pepper flakes, heavy cream and Parmesan cheese. Bring to a soft boil and then turn the heat down to simmer.
  6. Simmer the tomato cream sauce for 20 minutes while stirring occasionally.
  7. Once simmered: add in the shrimp, pasta and parsley. Mix together. Add in small amount of pasta water to loosen up the sauce (about 1/2 cup) until it reaches the consistency you prefer.
  8. Serve hot with extra Parmesan.

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