Pasta Bianco with Grilled Shrimp and Charred lemon is a spaghetti dish with just the right balance of creamy and acidic. Fresh mozzarella and ricotta make a decadent cream sauce for springy pasta. Add grilled or pan-seared shrimp for a stunning presentation with plenty of light protein.
If you’re a fan of white pizza, you’re going to love this recipe. It combines everything you love about Italian pizza Bianco with lightly grilled shrimp. The flavors are simultaneously both rich and refreshing, thanks to charred lemon. You can easily make this dish on an outdoor grill or inside with a cast-iron skillet. It’s also a breeze to make gluten-free with your favorite wheat-free pasta.
How to Make Pasta Bianco With Grilled Shrimp
As with any recipe, the key to excellent flavor starts with quality ingredients. Tender grilled shrimp are the star of this dish, so be sure to choose fresh, large shrimp. I recommend using skin-on shrimp, especially if you plan to grill them. The shell provides a helpful layer of protection to the delicate seafood as it cooks. It also seals in flavor and moisture, resulting in a more robust-tasting finished product to top your pasta.
That being said, not everyone enjoys the challenge of shrimp shells. You can just as easily make this recipe with peeled and deveined shrimp, just be sure to keep a close eye on the little guys as they cook. Shrimp cooks quickly––they’re done as soon as they turn pink and curl into a “C” shape. Even a minute longer can cause the protein to turn rubbery, so stand by while your shrimp are cooking.
You also don’t need to use an outdoor grill for perfectly seared shrimp with your creamy pasta. A large cast-iron skillet works just as well. Just be sure to let the skillet get nice and hot before you add the shrimp.
Pasta Bianco with Grilled Shrimp and Charred Lemon
I love this recipe because it essentially calls for four main ingredients + pantry items like garlic and dry pasta. It tastes like pizza Bianco and shrimp scampi grew up and had a very elegant love child. And did I mention the sauce comes together in about 8 minutes? Suspiciously close to the same time as the pasta takes to cook! You can grill the shrimp and lemon ahead to save time if you know you have a busy day.
- 8 ounces (227 grams) spaghetti (any variety)
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- ¼ cup heavy cream
- 1 cup fresh ricotta cheese
- ⅔ cup grated mozzarella cheese
- ½-¾ teaspoon sea salt
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- Fresh cracked pepper to taste
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 pound shell-on shrimp (16–20 per pound), rinsed
- Olive oil
- Flaky sea salt
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook to al dente according to the package instructions. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water, drain and return the pasta to the pot. Toss with a drizzle of olive oil to prevent sticking.
- In a saucepan over medium heat, heat a splash of oil and the garlic until the garlic is toasted and aromatic. Reduce the heat to low and stir in the heavy cream. Reduce the heat to medium low for 1 minute, making sure not to boil. Add the ricotta, mozzarella and salt. Stir and warm until creamy and smooth, about 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat.
- Immediately add the lemon juice, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Stir.
- Prepare the shrimp by heating the grill to medium-high. Lightly oil the grates. Alternatively, heat a cast iron skillet over medium heat and drizzle with olive oil.
- If using shell-on shrimp, we recommend leaving the shells on until just before serving, as they help with grilling and add flavor.
- In a medium bowl, toss the shrimp in a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of sea salt to coat.
- Grill the shrimp for 2-3 minutes, turning halfway through. Remove the shrimp as soon as they turn opaque and the shells are golden brown.
- Assemble the pasta by tossing the cooked spaghetti with the ricotta sauce and shrimp. Add reserved pasta water if necessary to make a silky sauce that coats the noodles. Garnish with a sprinkle of sea salt and fresh cracked pepper. Serve with a lemon wedge. Enjoy!
If you’re able to grill the lemon, using it for the sauce adds a beautiful layer of flavor. Get as many shrimp as you like, up to you!
How to Peel Shrimp
Another reason to opt for skin-on shrimp here is that they’re easier to peel than you might think. Simply use a pair of kitchen shears to snip the shell off cooked shrimp from head to tail. The peel will fall right off.
In fact, you can even save those shrimp shells to turn into flavorful shrimp stock for chowder. Simply simmer them in water with any of your favorite aromatics (garlic, fennel, onion, carrot, etc.) for about 30 minutes, strain and you have rich and flavorful seafood broth.
I hope you enjoy this delightfully creamy and bright pasta dinner recipe as much as I do. And if so, be sure to follow along on Instagram, where I’m always sharing new tasty recipes like this one. See you there!