Creole Shrimp Pasta is a light seafood pasta dish with tender seasoned shrimp nestled in a New Orleans Creole sauce flavored with stewed tomatoes, onion and bell pepper.
Creole Shrimp Pasta is a spin-off of Shrimp Creole, a tomato-based French dish that is typically served over a bed of white rice...but I was out of rice, so I used pasta. You can use rice or pasta as the base; it doesn't really matter because the Creole sauce is what this recipe is all about!
What is the Holy Trinity?
The Holy Trinity is the Cajun and Creole version of the French mirepoix. Mirepoix is a flavor-base derived from sauteed onions, celery and carrots. The Holy Trinity substitutes green bell pepper for carrots in the same ratio as mirepoix with 2 parts onion to 1 part each celery and green bell pepper.
What's the difference between Creole and Cajun food?
The Holy Trinity is key to Creole or Cajun cooking; both versions use similar spices and seasonings, but Creole is generally more spicy than Cajun and Creole usually includes tomatoes.
These culinary characteristics are intrinsic to the culture and the people. The term "Creole" refers to those American-born Spanish, French, Portuguese, Irish, and West African people who are descendants of the original French colonists who settled in New Orleans during the 1700's. Creole's were a mixed population of race, creed and color.
Cajun refers to the population of French colonists who came to Louisiana via the Acadia region of Canada. They called themselves Acadians , or "Cadians", which eventually became "Cajuns." The Acadians (or Cajuns) were forced from Acadia by the British and dispersed throughout the country, with many eventually settling in the swampy region of Louisiana that is known today as Acadiana.
The Creole population was a bit more sophisticated and wealthy than the Cajuns. Creole's were city dwellers with access to some of the finer things in life, including food. Acadians, or Cajuns, were a more simple population, often living off the land through farming.
In Louisiana, Creole and Cajun cooking have distinct characteristics. Creole recipes incorporate tomatoes, due to the Spanish influence, whereas Cajun foods have more French influence, often using a roux as a base for recipes. The Holy Trinity is key to Creole or Cajun cooking; both versions use similar spices and seasonings, but Creole is generally more spicy than Cajun.
In the State of Louisiana, you'll find both Creole and Cajun dishes throughout. New Orleans hosts a number of high and low-end restaurants featuring both fabulous cuisines.
The first thing you'll want to do is shell and devein the shrimp.
How to devein shrimp
If you do not have a shrimp deveining tool, use a sharp paring knife. Simply score a small cut along the top of the peeled shrimp; you may see a brown or gray membrane...remove the membrane and rinse the shrimp.
- After the shrimp are clean, season them with a sprinkling of Old Bay seasoning and set aside
- Saute the Holy Trinity (celery, onion and bell pepper)
- Add tomatoes and a little water; cook the mixture until the tomatoes are tender
- Meanwhile, boil water for pasta
- After the tomato mixture has thickened, season for taste, then add the seasoned shrimp
- Cook the shrimp in the Creole sauce for 5 minutes, or until the shrimp turn pink.
- Serve over pasta
What type of canned tomatoes should I use in Creole Shrimp Pasta?
Stewed tomatoes work really well in this recipe! Consider using stewed tomatoes that have onion, celery and bell peppers already included; this doesn't mean you can exclude the Holy Trinity, it just adds a bit more flavor to the dish!
Can I make this in advance?
If you're short on time, make the Creole sauce in advance and refrigerate it until you're ready to serve the dish. When ready to serve, prep and season the shrimp, heat the Creole sauce on medium-high heat. (Due to the thickening of the Creole sauce when refrigerated, you may need to add a bit of water when re-heating the sauce.) Bring the sauce to medium-high heat, add seasoned shrimp, reduce heat, cover and allow to simmer while you prepare the pasta.
Creole Shrimp Pasta
- 1 lb. fresh gulf shrimp peeled, deveined
- 2 tablespoons Creole seasoning
- 1-2 tablespoons smoky paprika
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 2 tablespoons oil
- 1/2 large onion chopped
- 1/2 large bell pepper chopped
- 2 stalks celery chopped
- 2 14.5 oz. cans Original Stewed Tomatoes
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 bay leaves
- 1/2 lb. pasta spaghetti, linguine, angel hair
- Peel and devein shrimp; rinse and pat dry with paper towel
- Sprinkle one tablespoon of Creole seasoning over shrimp; set aside
Prepare Creole Sauce
- In a large stockpot, add oil, chopped onions, celery and bell peppers; cook for 5-8 minutes, or until onions become translucent; add garlic to mixture; combine well
- Add tomatoes, water, paprika and bay leaves to stockpot; bring to boil
- Using a potato masher, mash down the tomatoes; reduce heat to medium low, cover and allow to cook for 10-15 minutes or until tomatoes begin to thicken
- In a separate pan, bring water to boil for pasta
- Add seasoned shrimp to tomato mixture; cover;
- Continue to cook pasta according to directions; drain pasta and plate
- Spoon shrimp and Creole sauce over cooked pasta; garnish with parsley and serve
- You may want to add 1/2 teaspoon of sugar to the Creole sauce to offset the acidity of the tomatoes
- For a thicker dish, allow tomato mixture to cook down and/or add okra to the Creole sauce
- Traditional Shrimp Creole is served over white rice