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).

Summer Vegetable Paella

Originally posted at

This is a one-pot recipe that takes a little prep-work with the vegetables, but it’s totally worth the elbow grease. It also uses two of my splurge ingredients: saffron and arborio rice. From everything I’ve heard about saffron, the taste is absolutely worthwhile and cannot be imitated. Since I only need a few threads of it for most recipes, I’ve only had to make the investment once. The arborio rice cooks up so nicely and tenderly even though I’m the worst at making rice, so I don’t think I’m the best cook to test alternate (read: cheaper) substitutes.

That said, I make two substitutions:

  • plum tomatoes in place of heirloom tomatoes
  • whichever bell pepper is cheapest, regardless of color (why buy an orange bell pepper for $3.99/lb. when green ones are $1.99/lb.?)

One day, I’ll try making this with a different type of rice and without the saffron threads and I’ll post my findings here. In the meantime, this will always always always be a favorite recipe of mine because it’s delicious, it makes bounteous leftovers and it’s even good straight out of the fridge.

Summer Vegetable Paella
Clean out your fridge with this summer vegetable paella that allows you to use up all your crisper drawer odds and ends in a delicious one-pot meal.
Yield: 4 servings
  • 1 lb small heirloom tomatoes, seeded and cut into wedges
  • salt, to taste
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 3 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 orange bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 1 zucchini, quartered lengthwise and sliced horizontally
  • 1 lb string beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch lengths
  • pinch of saffron
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 cups arborio rice
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  1. Heat oven to 450.
  2. Put the tomato wedges in a bowl and sprinkle with salt. Let sit while the rest of the paella is prepared.
  3. In a large oven-safe pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic to the pot and saute for 30 seconds, or until fragrant.
  4. Add the bell peppers, zucchini, and string beans to the pot, along with a pinch of salt. Saute for 5-6 minutes, or until starting to become tender. Add the saffron, paprika, and rice to the pot. Saute for a minute and then add 1 tsp salt and vegetable broth to the pot, plus more water to cover, as necessary. Bring to a boil and let cook for 3 minutes.
  5. Top with the tomato slices and then place in the oven. Cook for 20 minutes. Turn the heat off on the oven and let sit in the still-hot oven for 15 more minutes.
  6. Stir to combine and season to taste with salt and black pepper. Serve warm.

Staple Ingredients

  • Garlic – Nearly every recipe calls for at least two cloves of garlic, so I just assume I’ll need to pick up a clove of garlic every trip or two to the grocery store; fortunately they usually come out to about $1
  • Olive Oil – Again, very frequently needed and I seem to go through it quicker and quicker every time I buy it. I might shift my methods and see if it’s worthwhile to buy it at BJs or Costco.
  • Pasta – Cheap and filling. Hard to mess up.
  • Bulgur – I was introduced to this in some of the vegan recipes I’ve explored. It’s about $4/lb. and goes a long way. From what I’ve read, it can be substituted for quinoa, which I have yet to cook with.
  • Cilantro – I have a windowsill plant
  • Basil – I have a windowsill plant, though some recipes call for dry. I usually substitute my fresh basil anyway.