This creamy shrimp pasta in a sun-dried tomato and mascarpone sauce is rich and saucy, with big flavor that comes together fast and easy.
I never tire of noodly pasta dinners which is why I have plenty of silky tendriled pasta recipes here on the site, like my spaghetti alla carbonara, 5-ingredient cacio e pepe, and my short ribs fettuccine, to name a few. But this creamy shrimp pasta with sun-dried tomatoes, mascarpone, and tarragon takes things to a whole new level of delish.
In this recipe, tender shrimp and somewhat sweet sun-dried tomatoes tangle with long fusilli pasta in a zesty mixture of tomato paste and butter that becomes deliciously saucy with starchy pasta water and mascarpone. Herbaceous tarragon ties it all together and adds a unique kiss of flavor you never knew it needed.
Bonus? This superbly creamy pasta is quick and easy to make, rich and cozy, and totally perfect for your next date night.
What’s In This Shrimp Pasta
You don’t need a ton of ingredients to make this dish, and the recipe is flexible.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- Long fusilli pasta (feel free to use any other long noodle here, such as linguini or bucatini)
- Butter and extra virgin olive oil
- Shrimp (I clean and peel them but leave the tails on for even more shrimpy flavor)
- Kosher salt
- Red pepper flakes (feel free to omit if you don’t care for any heat in this)
- Tomato paste
- Sun-dried tomatoes (I prefer to use the jarred-in-oil variety)
- Mascarpone cheese (you could also use half-and-half, heavy cream, or cream cheese here. Adjust amount to your liking.)
- Reserved pasta water (this starchy, salty goodness helps create the creamy sauce)
- Fresh tarragon (try basil if you’d rather)
How to Make This Creamy Shrimp Pasta
This pasta is a breeze to make, and it comes together quickly. Here’s how to make it:
Cook your pasta. Don’t be afraid to season generously with salt (think ocean water) — it’s crucial for giving your pasta more flavor, and since you’re saving some of that water for your pasta sauce later, you don’t want it to be bland.
Also, don’t rinse the pasta or the pasta gluten will be rinsed off and the sauce won’t stick to the noodles.
Sauté the Shrimp
Use a combination of butter and oil to cook the shrimp. I mostly use butter for the flavor here, but adding a bit of olive oil helps raise the smoke point so the butter doesn’t burn.
Shrimp needs only a quick cook on each side, just until it begins to become opaque. Cook it too long and it will be tough.
Build that Silky Sauce
Cook the tomato paste with sun-dried tomatoes to lose that raw taste. Use the same skillet used to cook the shrimp sauté your shallot and garlic in butter. Add the tomato paste and sun-dried tomatoes and cook for a few minutes so the tomato paste’s flavor deepens and adds umami to this dish.
Reserve your pasta water to thicken the sauce. Don’t toss the water once the pasta is done! Save it for thickening the sauce where it will become thick and rich.
Thicken the Sauce
Stir in the pasta water and mascarpone until melted and smooth. The sauce thickens as it cooks for a few minutes. Add more pasta water if the sauce cooks down too much.
Toss Your Noodles
Finally toss the shrimp, pasta, and tarragon in with the sauce. Taste for seasoning, add more tarragon for garnish, then lick your fingers and serve.
How to Make a Creamy Sauce for the Pasta
In this recipe, we do like the pro chefs and hang on to some of that pasta water to add back to the sauce and help thicken as it cooks.
After your pasta has cooked, the salted water is noticeably cloudier and even a touch thicker thanks to the starch and gluten that’s released. Reintroducing it to the pasta sauce later helps it thicken and adds a bit of salted flavor. I usually dunk a coffee mug into the pot to reserve before draining the pasta in a strainer.
In this recipe, I also add mascarpone cheese, a soft, mellow-flavored Italian version of cream cheese. You could use cream, half and half, cream cheese, or créme fraîche to achieve that creamy consistency instead.
What to Serve With This Creamy Shrimp Pasta
- Salad With Pears, Gorgonzola and Candied Pecans
- Caesar Salad with Garlic Croutons
- THE BEST Roasted Asparagus
- Arugula Salad with Shaved Parmesan
- The BEST Garlic Bread
More Saucy Shrimp Recipes to Try
- Shrimp Scampi Pasta
- One-Pot Mexican Shrimp with Orzo and Zucchini
- Shrimp Pasta with Roasted Red Peppers and Artichokes
- Blackened Seafood Pasta
- Shrimp in Thai Coconut Curry Sauce
- Shrimp Scampi
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