Linguine with Spicy Shrimp

This recipe is very filling, can serve as lunch and dinner for the next day or so and is pretty cheap. It uses one of my splurge ingredients, shrimp, but it doesn’t use very much and it helps elevate the dish beyond boxed-pasta-with-sauce-from-a-jar.

It would help me meet my budget if I only bought what I needed from the fishmonger (or whatever you call the seafood version of a butcher) at the grocery, but I don’t have a tool to devein or behead the shrimp (and I’m kind of lazy), and it gives me an excuse to cook other things with shrimp.

The only other thing about this recipe is that it calls for watercress, which my neighborhood grocery doesn’t carry. I’m fortunate enough to work 10 minutes from Wegman’s, so I can grab fancy things like watercress, arborio rice, saffron – generally, any pricier or Whole Foods-esque item. My neighborhood is gentrifying and my local grocery has an “organic” aisle now, so it may only be a matter of time. Commenters on the site suggest substitutions like arugula or baby spinach, or omitting the watercress altogether.

The only substitution I’ve made is red pepper flakes instead of crushed red pepper – because that’s what I already have in my spice rack.

This recipe originally appears on the Real Simple website, contributed by Charlyne Mattox.

Hands-On Time: 20 minutes | Total Time: 20 minutes
Serves 4


3/4 pound linguine
1/4 cup olive oil
1 1/2 pounds peeled and deveined large shrimp, tails removed (raw)
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
kosher salt
2 bunches watercress, thick stems removed and torn (about 6 cups)
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest


  1. Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Reserve 3/4 cup of the cooking water; drain the pasta. Wipe out the pot.
  2. Heat the oil in the pasta pot over medium-high heat. Add the shrimp, garlic, red pepper, and ½ teaspoon salt. Cook, tossing occasionally, until cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes.
  3. Reduce heat to medium and add the pasta, watercress, lemon zest, and 1/2 cup of the reserved cooking water and cook, tossing, until the sauce coats the pasta, 1 to 2 minutes (adding more cooking water as needed to loosen the sauce).

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