Meatless Monday Challenge

30-Minute Zesty Lemon Shrimp Pasta

on April 5, 2024
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This bright and zesty Lemon Shrimp Pasta is simple to make and bursting with fresh flavor. Just 30 minutes and 9 ingredients required!
Large serving bowl with shrimp lemon pasta served with lemon wedges.

When you want something fresh and flavorful fast, this Lemon Shrimp Pasta is your bestie! Coming together in just 30 minutes and with less than 10 ingredients, this is my go-to meal when I’m feelin’ a little lazy but still want something that feels gourmet.

This zesty pasta with shrimp uses simple but impactful ingredients to give you a lot of flavor with minimal effort. Plus, it looks impressive and feeds a lot, so it’s a great gourmet seafood recipe for family dinner or for entertaining!

Shrimp Lemon Pasta in a serving bowl with a small serving on a plate.

Sustainable Shrimp

Shrimp is definitely delicious and super versatile, but depending on where you live, may be a seafood to consider enjoying in moderation.

I’m very lucky to live in a coastal community where local shrimp can be easily sourced sustainably by small shrimpers during shrimping season. However, if this option is not available to you, there are some things you can look for when sourcing shrimp.

As far as which shrimp to buy when it comes to sustainability, try to avoid imported shrimp entirely. Imported farmed shrimp is often produced in ways that are detrimental to mangrove forests and on farms that emit a high number of pollutants.

Plus, it has to travel far to get to you. Instead, seek domestic farmed shrimp.

Green tip: Shrimp is seafood we should enjoy in moderation, as it is not the most sustainable. The best way to source your shrimp is from domestic shrimp farms (avoid imported).

Lemon & Shrimp Pasta Ingredients


Here’s everything you need:

  • Pasta. Any type of pasta works here, short or long. I used Angel Hair in the dish pictured but have also made this with penne and fettucine.
  • Shrimp. Fresh or frozen, I prefer large white shrimp. If you are using frozen shrimp, make sure they are defrosted before you start cooking this meal. You can do so by transferring them to the refrigerator 24 hours ahead of time or putting them in a sealed bag and submerging the bag in a large bowl of cold water for about 45 minutes.
  • Salt & pepper.
  • Lemon.
  • Garlic.
  • Olive oil.
  • Parmesan cheese. Grated.
  • Parsley.
ingredients for lemon shrimp pasta - parmesan cheese, garlic, salt, shrimp, pasta, olive oil, pepper, lemon, parsley

Shrimp Lemon Pasta Tips and Tricks


Set Yourself Up for Success

This meal comes together very quickly if you stay organized. Start by getting 10 cups of water boiling in a large pot for your pasta.

Then, peel your shrimp. I left the tails on just because it’s more photogenic, but it’s up to you whether you would like to leave the tails or fully peel them.

Peel and mince your garlic ahead of time, too. This will just make your cooking flow much smoother.

Peeling shrimp but leaving the tails on.
Peel your defrosted shrimp.
Minced garlic on a chopping board next to a sharp knife.
Peel and mince your garlic.

Cook The Shrimp First

Pat the peeled shrimp dry with a paper towel to reduce excess moisture (try these bamboo paper towels for a more sustainable option!).

Then, season both sides generously with salt and pepper. You will not use all ½ teaspoon of salt and pepper now, we will add the rest later!

Get the olive oil hot in the pan over medium heat for about 2-3 minutes before adding the minced garlic. Add the garlic, stir a few times until fragrant.

Finally, add your shrimp. Try to do so in a single layer so that each shrimp is directly touching the pan. Cook the shrimp in the garlic and oil for about 2 minutes on each side until pink and cooked through.

The internal temperature of the shrimp should reach 145°F, but you can also tell visually when the shrimp is ready because it completely changes color.

Remove the shrimp and set it aside to add back to the pasta later. Keep the oil and garlic in the pan.

Seasoning raw shrimp with salt and pepper.
Pat dry the shrimp and season with salt and pepper.
Getting oil hot in a pan before adding the shrimp.
Get the oil hot in the pan.
Cooking garlic in hot oil over medium heat.
Stir the garlic into the hot oil.
Pan-fried shrimp cooked in a pan with garlic, salt, and pepper.
Pan-fry the shrimp in the oil and garlic then remove and set aside.

Make Your Lemon Garlic Pasta

By now, your water should be boiling. Cook the pasta al dente according to the instructions on the packaging.

Before straining the pasta, conserve about a cup of that starchy water the pasta was cooked in. I just dunk my Pyrex measuring cup in to easily collect the water.

Then, drain the rest of the water and add the cooked pasta to the pan with the garlic and oil over low heat. Add any remaining salt and pepper, the lemon zest, lemon juice, and Parmesan cheese.

Toss the pasta and slowly add the pasta water, a couple tablespoons at a time to loosen. Continue to toss, only adding as much of the pasta water as you need.

Make sure to conserve at least a cup of the water the pasta cooks in before straining your pasta.
Cook the pasta al dente and conserve some of the pasta water.
Zesting a lemon over a pan of pasta.
Add the cooked pasta to the pan with the garlic and oil. Add the lemon juice and zest, Parmesan, and loosen with pasta water.

Toss the Pasta and Shrimp Together

Add the shrimp back to the pan with the pasta, and top with chopped parsley. Toss everything together and taste to see if you need any additional salt, pepper, or lemon juice.

If you want a little kick in this shrimp recipe, you can add some crushed red pepper!

Adding cooked shrimp back to pasta tossed with lemon juice and zest, garlic, and Parmesan cheese.
Add the shrimp back to the pan with the pasta. Add chopped parsley and toss everything together.

Serving Your Lemon Pasta with Shrimp

This shrimp dinner recipe makes a lot! It makes 6 generous portions, or up to 10 modest ones. I like to serve it up with some lemon wedges. It’s filling enough to make a full meal on it’s own, but if you want some ideas for accompaniments, here are some of my fave:

Lemon shrimp pasta served on a plate with a fork, with the serving bowl in the background.

How to Properly Store and Reheat Leftover Pasta with Shrimp and Lemon

This delicious shrimp dinner dish will last for 4-5 days in an airtight container in the refrigerator. The best way to reheat it is actually in the oven!

Add the shrimp and pasta to a baking dish and cover with aluminum foil. Preheat your oven to 350°F and cook for 15-20 minutes until the pasta and shrimp is thoroughly heated. If it seems to dry, add some vegetable broth or lemon juice.

You could even add a splash of white wine. I don’t recommend adding water while reheating as it will make your pasta a little bland.

Alternatively, you can reheat the shrimp lemon pasta in a pot over medium heat with a little extra olive oil, or even in the microwave in a pinch.

Green tip: Of the billions of pounds of food wasted annually, it is estimated that 50% of it happens in our homes. Properly storing and enjoying leftovers is a great way to reduce your individual contribution to food waste.

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Why this Shrimp Lemon Pasta Will Become Your Go-to


  • It’s quick. Ready in 30 minutes (or honestly even less once you make this a few times and get the hang of it!).
  • It’s zesty. The freshness from the lemon complements the shrimp beautifully.
  • It’s simple. With just 6 simple ingredients + salt, pepper, and olive oil, and simply cooking techniques, you’ve got a hearty meal!

If you’re loving this Lemon Shrimp Pasta and want more delicious seafood pasta dishes, check out this Cajun Salmon Pasta and this Salmon Spinach Pasta with White Wine Sauce.

Large serving bowl with shrimp lemon pasta served with lemon wedges.

30-Minute Zesty Lemon Shrimp Pasta

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Marley Goldin
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This bright and zesty Lemon Shrimp Pasta is simple to make and bursting with fresh flavor. Just 30 minutes and 9 ingredients required!
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 6 servings

Ingredients
 
 

  • 1 pound large white shrimp
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 16 ounces pasta of choice (I used angel hair)
  • 1 large lemon (juice and zest)
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons parsley
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Instructions
 

  • Set yourself up by bringing a large pot with 10 cups of water to a boil, peeling the shrimp, and peeling and mincing the garlic.
  • Pat the shrimp dry with a paper towel to reduce excess moisture (try these bamboo paper towels for a more sustainable option!) and season both sides with a pinch of salt and pepper.
  • Get the oil hot in a large frying pan for about 2-3 minutes. Then, add the garlic and stir until fragrant.
  • Add your shrimp in a single layer so that each shrimp is directly touching the pan. Cook the shrimp in the garlic and oil for about 2 minutes on each side until pink and cooked through (internal temperature should reach 145°F). Remove the shrimp and set aside for later, keeping the oil and garlic in the pan.
  • Cook the pasta al dente according to the instructions on the packaging. Before draining, conserve about 1 cup of the starchy water the pasta cooked in.
  • Add the cooked pasta to the pan with the oil and garlic over low heat. Add the lemon zest, lemon juice, Parmesan cheese, and remaining salt and pepper and toss. Slowly add the pasta water, about 2 tablespoons at a time to loosen. Continue to toss, only adding as much of the pasta water as you need.
  • Add the shrimp back to the pan with the pasta and add chopped parsley. Toss again. Taste to see if you need additional salt and pepper.
  • Serve warm with some fresh lemon wedges. Enjoy!

Pro Tips

  • If you are using frozen shrimp, make sure they are defrosted before starting this recipe. You can defrost your shrimp in the refrigerator for 24 hours or by placing the frozen shrimp in a sealed storage bag and submerging it in a bowl of cold water for about 45 minutes. 

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Course Dinner
Cuisine American
Keyword 30 Minutes or Less, Easy Dinner, Pasta, Pescatarian, Shrimp
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