Shrimp Pasta Salad

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Simple shrimp and pasta salad, with an oil and lemon dressing, small pink shrimp, bell pepper, red onion, garlic, and basil.

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

The heat has finally arrived in Northern California, and with it, the need for some cooling pasta salads. Here’s a simple and easy shrimp pasta salad made with those little pink shrimp that you can find in the freezer section of almost any grocery store.

While our gulf shrimp fisheries are suffering at the moment, these little shrimp come from sustainable fisheries in the cold, sub-Arctic oceans, either Atlantic or Pacific.

They’re called boreal shrimp, Maine shrimp, or just “pink shrimp” because they’re pink even when they’re raw. But you won’t buy them raw. Pink shrimp come already cleaned, processed, and cooked, ready to eat.

We’ve made this salad a couple of times already, most recently for a potluck where it was a big hit. Fresh basil, red bell peppers, red onions, and a lemon and olive oil dressing with just a sprinkle of red chili pepper flakes dance well with the shrimp and pasta. We think you’ll like it.

Shrimp Pasta Salad Recipe

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  • Cook time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4 as a main course, 8 as a side salad

Prep the ingredients while you heat the pasta water and cook the pasta.

Defrost frozen shrimp by placing them in a bowl of cold water. Keep chilled until used. You can easily double the pasta amount if you want to stretch the salad further.

The salad is best the same day it is made, otherwise the basil is a bit wilt-y, and the pasta a bit sticky.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound bow-tie (farfalle) or orecchiette pasta, or other short pasta
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 pounds small pink shrimp (also called Maine shrimp or boreal shrimp, comes already cooked)
  • 1 diced red bell pepper
  • 1 diced red onion
  • 1 minced garlic clove
  • 1 cup chopped basil leaves (loosely packed)
  • 1/3 cup high-quality olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon of lemon zest
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon red chile flakes
  • Black pepper to taste

Method

1 Cook the pasta in well salted water (1 Tbsp salt for every 2 quarts water) until al dente, a bit firmer than you would normally eat. (The pasta will absorb some of the salad dressing and soften further after cooking.) Rinse the pasta in cold water to stop the cooking. Drain well and put into a large bowl.

2 Rinse the shrimp and drain well. Add them to the bowl and mix. Add the remaining ingredients and gently mix until well combined.

Serve chilled.

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Shrimp Pasta Salad

Showing 4 of 12 Comments

  • Carol Jaros

    Just the dish I need for Sun. If I double the pasta, should I also double or at least increase the dressing?

    If you want. I didn’t, and was fine. I would adjust to your taste. If you think it needs more, add more. ~Elise

  • Laura T.

    This looks light and refreshing. I’m wondering if perhaps adding some blanched broccoli might be nice for a little extra color and texture…

  • Trish-in-MO

    Silly question: do you pack the basil (or loosely pack in this particular case) FIRST then chop? Thanks!

    Good question! Chop first. ~Elise

  • william

    Sounds delicious and we will try it this weekend in the Mediterranean. But, I assume the shrimp is either pre-cooked or one cooks it before starting the recipe? Raw shrimp is not our favorite.

    “Pink” shrimp comes already pre-cooked. I don’t think you can even buy them raw, at least not in a regular grocery store. ~Elise

  • Charles Curran

    Always have shrimp in the freezer. XLarge. Have one of those pans with holes for the grill.Olive oil,salt,pepper and garlic. Pop on the grill for a couple minutes a side. Keep in the fridge for those types of salads, or pasta last minute dishes.

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