Shrimp and Pasta in Tomato-Chile Cream Sauce

This spicy little number will forever be associated with Valentine’s Day in our house. After Blake & I made this together a couple years ago for a special dine-in Valentine’s meal, it has now come to be an annual February dish.

The original recipe for Shrimp and Pasta in Tomato-Chile Cream Sauce comes from Emeril Lagasse and is full of his signature {rich + bold} flavor. The cream and shrimp provide sweet lusciousness. And then the jalapenos and Pepper Jack cheese follow up with a kick {it up a notch}.

It’s deliciously romantic.

I realize this pasta dish may not make it to your table this Valentine’s Day, given my timing in sharing it with you, but it’s a great dish to make during any winter month. And even though the past few days have been rather balmy here in the midwest, I have a feeling we haven’t seen the last of this winter’s wrath.

Also…don’t let this recipe’s length scare you off. It’s not difficult to make. But prep is key. Have everything chopped and measured before you get started, and you’ll be just fine. This is a great dish to whip up with your honey by your side. Turn on some music, pour some wine (I really like a chilled crisp Cline Viognier with this), and make an evening of it.

Shrimp and Pasta in Tomato-Chile Cream Sauce

Yield: 6


  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 lb. linguine
  • 2 T. unsalted butter
  • 2 T. olive oil, divided
  • 1 lb. large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 2 T. Essence (recipe follows)
  • 1-1/2 tsp. kosher salt, divided
  • 1 c. finely chopped yellow onion
  • 1/4 c. finely chopped jalapenos, seeds removed
  • 1 T. minced garlic
  • 1-1/2 c. heavy cream
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 c. diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 c. reserved pasta cooking water
  • 1 c. grated Pepper Jack cheese
  • 1/4 c. grated Parmesan
  • 2 T. chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • 2 T. chopped fresh basil leaves

for Emeril’s Essence Creole Seasoning:

(can be purchased at the grocery store, labeled as “Bayou Blast”)

  • 2-1/2 T. paprika
  • 2 T. salt
  • 2 T. garlic powder
  • 1 T. black pepper
  • 1 T. onion powder
  • 1 T. cayenne pepper
  • 1 T. dried oregano
  • 1 T. dried thyme


Combine all ingredients thoroughly. Store in an empty spice bottle or similar container for future use. I always have a few empty spice bottles on hand, for just this sort of thing.
yield: 2/3 cup

Set a large 1-gallon stock pot of water to a boil. Add the kosher salt and then the linguine to the pot. Return to a boil and stir the noodles to separate. Cook the pasta until al dente, about 10 to 12 minutes. Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water and set aside. Drain the pasta.

While the pasta is cooking, start preparing the shrimp and sauce. Set a large deep saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the butter and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Once the butter has melted, season the shrimp with 1 tablespoon of the Essence seasoning, plus 1/4 teaspoon of the salt. Add the shrimp to the pan and sear until nicely browned on both sides. This should take just a couple minutes. Remove the shrimp from the pan and set aside.

Turn heat down to medium and add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Once the oil is shimmering, add the onions and jalapenos to the pan and saute until the onions are softened, translucent, and slightly caramelized. This should take about 4 or 5 minutes. Add the garlic to the pan and saute for 1 minute. Add the cream, remaining 1 tablespoon of Essence seasoning, remaining 1-1/4 teaspoons of the salt, and the pepper to the pan and bring to a boil. Cook the sauce until the cream is reduced by half. This should take about 2 minutes.

Return the shrimp to the pan. Add the linguine, tomatoes, and the reserved cooking water to the pan and cook, tossing to incorporate for 3 to 5 minutes. Remove pan from the heat and add the Pepper Jack, Parmesan, parsley, and basil. Toss to blend. Serve immediately.

adapted slightly from Emeril Lagasse and Food

I’m linking up with:

Rachel at A Southern Fairytale for Mouthwatering Monday
Robyn at Add a Pinch for Mingle Monday