Are busy weeknights leaving you with a bland rotation of easy dishes? Let this simple spicy garlic shrimp with kale and pasta recipe mix things up.
Buttery garlic, shrimp, kale, and red pepper flakes come together with lemon juice and tomato sauce to make the perfect, flavorful pasta topper. But the best part? It takes less time to prepare and cook this sauce than it does to boil and cook the noodles.
For a weeknight dinner that takes less than 30 minutes to make and tastes nothing like your typical hurry-up meals, this is the recipe you want. Serve with tear-and-share bread, our favorite chopped salad, and a glass of white wine for a classy three-course meal with none of the effort.
Why You’ll Love It
- Isn’t your Typical Weeknight Meal. When was the last time you indulged in a shrimp dish on a school night? After you see how easy this one is to make, you’ll wonder why you don’t do it more often.
- Healthy. Shrimp brings tons of protein while a hefty dose of kale and garlic supplies plenty of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
- Super Fast and Easy. You can cook the sauce while waiting for your noodles to cook. And when you’re done, you’ll only have two pans to clean.
- Easy to Tweak. Use whole wheat pasta for more fiber, add veggies to taste, and top with your favorite herbs, cheese, and spices.
How to Make Spicy Garlic Shrimp with Kale & Pasta
There is a good amount of ingredients in this recipe, but they come together really quickly. You can find the full printable recipe card at the bottom of this post. For now, let’s look at what it takes to make this delicious dish.
- Shrimp. Make sure to find sustainably caught, wild shrimp. Prepared with the tails removed is the best option for super-quick prep.
- Garlic. Sautéing garlic in butter sets this dish up right. If you really love your garlic, feel free to use more than two cloves.
- Red Pepper Flakes. This is where the “spicy” comes from. Adjust based on your own preferences.
- Kale. Curly kale, which is nice and thin, works well for this recipe. You can also use lacinato kale if you want a chewier texture.
- Pasta. I prefer spaghetti or angel hair, but this is also very good with linguine.
1. Cook the Pasta. While the water is heating, get started on the sauce.
2. Saute Garlic in Butter and Olive Oil. Use a cast iron pan for best results.
3. Add Shrimp and Kale. Stir occasionally.
4. Create the Sauce. Add the tomato sauce and the remaining ingredients. Stir well.
5. Serve over Pasta. Add fresh parmesan, if desired.
Recipe Tips, Variations, and Substitutions
- Cook the pasta to your preference. This tastes best with al dente pasta, especially if using a thin variety like angel hair. But if using thicker pasta or if you prefer a little softer texture, be sure to cook it longer.
- Cut the shrimp if desired. If cooking for small mouths, you may want to cut the shrimp into bite-sized pieces before serving. It is recommended to do this after cooking, for the best texture.
- Reduce the carbs. If you’re trying to cut back on carbs, double the sauce ingredients and half the amount of pasta. You can also try this sauce with quinoa for extra protein and more fiber.
- Make it gluten-free. Feel free to use gluten-free pasta if needed.
- Add your favorite fresh herbs. Fresh basil, oregano, and thyme all make great garnishes. You can also add a dash of lemon zest.
- Make it creamy. For an extra creamy sauce, add a little cream or coconut cream to the sauce along with the tomatoes.
Make Ahead and Storage Recommendations
Since this recipe takes almost no time at all to make, there is no need to make it ahead of time. But if you want it done super fast, it’s easy enough to pre-cook the pasta and store it in the fridge with a little olive oil mixed in.
You can also prepare all the sauce ingredients ahead of time. Once you’re ready, cook up the sauce according to the instructions. This should only take about ten minutes, tops.
For leftovers, store them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to five days. If possible, keep the pasta and sauce separate so the noodles don’t soak up all the liquid.
Reheat in a double broiler for best results.
Try These Other Pasta Dishes
Pasta often makes a good candidate for weeknight cooking. Here are some pasta recipes worth trying.
- Lemon Arugula Pasta Salad – Bright and vibrant and the perfect easy lunch.
- Creamy Dairy-Free Pasta Sauce – Cauliflower is the key to this deliciously creamy vegan pasta dish.
- Rice Pasta with Peas, Prosciutto, and Lemon Balm – Salty, crunchy, and satisfying with a flavor twist that hits the spot.
- One-Pot Spaghetti with Kale, Mushroom, and Garlic – Simple yet so satisfying.
- Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Pasta Sauce – An easy pasta sauce full of fresh flavors.
- Pasta with Roasted Cauliflower and Lemon-Parmesan – You’ve never had pasta like this! And it doesn’t disappoint.
Spicy Garlic Shrimp with Kale & Pasta
- cast-iron skillet
- Large pot
- 3 oz. angel hair pasta uncooked, or spaghetti pasta
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 tbsp. butter
- 2 cloves garlic peeled and minced
- 1/2 lbs. shrimp medium, peeled, deveined, and tail removed
- 2 cups kale chopped fine
- 1/2 cup tomato sauce
- 1/2 lemon freshly squeezed juice
- pinch red pepper flakes
- coarse sea salt to taste
- fresh parmesan cheese for serving, optional
- Cook pasta according to package instructions.
- In a large cast-iron skillet or other heavy-bottomed pan, heat the butter and olive oil. Add the garlic and sauté for 1 minute, being careful not to burn it.
- Add the shrimp and kale and cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes until the shrimp has turned pink and the kale is cooked through.
- Add tomato sauce and cook for another minute or so. Remove from the heat and add the lemon juice, red pepper flakes, and salt. Taste and adjust seasonings, if necessary.
- Serve over pasta and sprinkle with fresh parmesan, if desired.