Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Healthier Shrimp Scampi and a Fun Florida Film Festival by Cleo Coyle

You will not find "shrimp scampi" in a cookbook of authentic Italian dishes. This dish was born in America, and when you order it, you'll usually be served a gratin of large shrimp that have been split, brushed with an obscene amount of garlic butter and then broiled. 

Cleo Coyle, pasta eater,
is author of
Coffeehouse  Mysteries
Some restaurants like to serve it over pasta or rice. A famous chain of American seafood restaurants has long been known for its scampi. You can even get Red Lobster's copycat scampi recipe by clicking here.

My scampi recipe for you this week is not from any particular menu, it's simply my improvised, lighter version. The meal is satisfying yet healthy. Garlic, olive oil, fresh parsley, and seafood--all good stuff. You can make it even healthier by using a spinach, whole wheat, or low glycemic index pasta. When I make it, my husband inhales bowls of it, and I hope you enjoy it, too.

If you live in or near Sarasota, Florida, you may also enjoy this bit of news. The annual Sarasota Film Festival is underway this week and from now through Sunday, April 22nd, you can catch a wonderful presentation of films, many with the filmmakers and actors in attendance and ready to answer questions after the screenings.

A good buddy of mine, Scott Ciencin, is on the Festival staff and answered questions in the video below. Just click on the arrow to learn more, and if you see Scott at the festival, tell him Cleo Coyle says Hey! No kidding, don't be shy. Scott is one of the nicest guys in the whole wide world.



Sarasota Film Festival official website - Click Here for more information, including the film schedule and tips from "The Insider," my friend Scott Ciencin.

Cleo Coyle's (Healthier)
Shrimp Scampi
with Angel Hair

To download a PDF of this recipe that you can print, save, or share, click here.

Servings: about 4

20-24 Large Shrimp (fresh or frozen) 
16 ounces pasta (1 box is usually 16 oz or 1 pound) 
5 tablespoons olive oil 
6-8 cloves garlic, roughly chopped 
1 tablespoon butter 
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley (or 1/4 cup dried, but fresh tastes better!) 
1/4 cup Italian seasoned breadcrumbs 
1/2 teaspoon oregano

(Optional finishers) Freshly ground pepper; a quick squeeze of fresh lemon wedge or a bit of lemon zest grated over the top; sea salt; or freshly grated pecorino (read the comments after this post for the cheese on seafood question). 


(1) First clean and peel your shrimp. If you are using frozen shrimp, defrost the shrimp first. Then make your pasta according to the package directions. I like angel hair but any pasta will work. To make this dish even more healthy, try spinach, whole wheat, or a specialty pasta with a low glycemic index. Drain well and set aside.

(2) Warm olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Throw in the chopped garlic cloves and saute for a minute or two. Toss in your shrimp. In 3 to 5 minutes, when they turn pink, stop the cooking. Do not overcook or shrimp will be tough and rubbery. Leave the oil in the pan but take out the shrimp and the garlic and set aside.

(3) Add the butter to the pan. When the butter melts, add your drained pasta, rolling around to coat well with the oil and butter. Toss in the Italian seasoned breadcrumbs, parsley, and oregano, and put your shrimp back into the pan to warm again.

(4) There is no need to add the chunks of garlic back in because by now the garlic has imparted its flavor to the oil. However, if you really like garlic (as we do), then throw it back in there, baby! Toss all ingredients together and serve.

Finish: Although there is much debate about whether to serve seafood pasta dishes with cheese (see the comments :)), I do enjoy grating pecorino over the top. Freshly ground pepper is also nice on this dish and/or a squeeze of lemon.

Eat with joy!

~ Cleo Coyle, author of

To get more of my recipes, enter to win
free coffee, or learn about my books, including
my bestselling 
Haunted Bookshop series, visit my online coffeehouse: CoffeehouseMystery.com

The Coffeehouse Mysteries are national bestselling
culinary mysteries set in a landmark Greenwich Village 
coffeehouse, and each of the ten titles includes the 
added bonus of recipes. 

The Ghost and
Mrs. McClure

Book #1 of 

The Haunted Bookshop
, which Cleo writes
under the name Alice Kimberly
To learn more, click here.


  1. I always go for the cheese with my scampi, but I know it's a sin! Loved seeing you at Murder 203. Thanks for coming, Cleo!

    1. Cindy - Thank YOU so much for dropping by the Kitchen today. Marc and I really enjoyed ourselves at MURDER 203. It was a wonderful conference. I'm glad to hear you enjoyed it, too!

      Warmest java wishes,
      ~ Cleo Coffeehouse Mystery.com
      Cleo Coyle on Twitter

  2. Yum! This is one of my favorite dinners. I make it almost the same way, but without the breadcrumbs. I'll have to try adding them.

    ~ Krista

    1. Krista - It's a great dinner, isn't it? Easy, light, and tasty. I'm smiling over your mention of the breadcrumbs. Some Italians call breadcrumbs "the peasant's cheese" and cheese is the issue with this dish, more below! :)

      ~ Cleo Coffeehouse Mystery.com
      Cleo Coyle on Twitter

  3. Cleo, this is one of my favorite meals, except I make mine with gluten-free pasta. I adore shrimp! An Italian friend of mine says that fish and cheese are taboo together in Italy. Isn't that interesting? I love the flavors together.


    1. Avery - Good tip on the gluten-free pasta for anyone with celiac disease.

      On the cheese and seafood issue - there's a joke about Italians. They like to make up rules--and hate to follow them. The issue with cheese on seafood is grounded in the idea that the cheese will blot out the delicate flavor of the fish, but I'm siding with the chefs (including the chef at Esca here in NYC) who argue that a sprinkle of cheese at the end is not going to cancel out the flavor.

      And for anyone who doesn't agree, no worries. Use my option of lemon zest and black pepper and--

      Eat with joy...
      ~ Cleo Coffeehouse Mystery.com
      Cleo Coyle on Twitter

  4. ooh, I like this light version. Adding it to my collections

    1. Dru - Glad to hear it. Thanks so much for dropping by the Kitchen today!

      Have a delicious week,
      ~ Cleo Coffeehouse Mystery.com
      Cleo Coyle on Twitter

  5. This brings to mind another delicious,but killer pasta dish--Penne a la Vodka. Instead of the cream, I use evaporated milk. (NOT CONDENSED MILK.) With the seasonings you don't really miss it and the evap. milk has a mouth feel rather like cream.

    1. Great tip, Libby. I'm with you. Evaporated milk is a wonderful ingredient for making fast, pantry cream sauces. For years, I've used it to make a quickie mushroom sauce (note to self, blog that one soon!). I really like your idea for the vodka sauce, never tried it that way, and will give it a go soon.

      Thanks for the tip *and* for dropping by our Kitchen.

      Cook with joy,
      ~ Cleo Coffeehouse Mystery.com
      Cleo Coyle on Twitter