Fra Diavolo is a spicy sauce for pasta and seafood. Most versions are tomato-based and use chili peppers for spice. Fra Diavolo is served over pasta with shellfish that roughly translates to “among the devil,” getting its name from the hot pepper that gives it its signature heat. It’s traditionally made with shrimp or lobster, and sometimes clams
Debate rages on whether this dish originated in Italy or in one of America’s Italian American communities. Regardless of its origins, it is popular in restaurants, but lobster Fra Diavolo is rarely found in cookbooks. I grew up with spicy shellfish pasta, especially for Christmas Eve, so here is my version. I use lobster tails because they are easier to cook with and eat with the pasta.
250g (8 1/2 oz) long pasta
4 small lobster tails, about 4 oz each, split in half down the middle lengthwise
Salt and pepper
6 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
2 (28 oz) containers chopped Italian tomatoes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 teaspoons Calabrian chili paste or 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 sprig fresh basil
1 cup seafood broth or clam juice
¼ cup chopped Italian parsley leaves
In a sauté pan that will be large enough to hold the lobster and cooked pasta, sauté the garlic in 2 tablespoons of olive oil for 30 seconds. Add the seafood broth and simmer for a minute or two. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, chili paste, basil sprig, and salt to taste, or about 1 teaspoon. Simmer until the sauce is reduced about 1 hour. Add the lobster tails cut side down, bring the sauce back to a low boil and cook the lobster for about 5 minutes or until the shells turn red and the meat turns white.
Boil a large pot filled with water. When it comes to a rolling boil, add a generous amount of salt and the pasta, and cook very al dente.
Place the lobster tails on a plate and set aside. Remove the basil sprig. Drain the pasta and add it to the tomato sauce, along with a ladleful of the pasta cooking water. Let the pasta simmer in the sauce, mixing it well, and making sure every strand is coated with the sauce. Pour the pasta on to a serving platter and top with the lobster tails. Garnish with chopped parsley and serve.
Shrimp is the most popular seafood in the United States, so it is good to know that it is a naturally renewable and sustainable resource. I live in the heart of shrimp country on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico. We are able to purchase wild-caught shrimp year round. However, not all shrimp is sustainable and there is a big taste difference in the shrimp you buy frozen from the supermarket and US wild-caught shrimp. Most likely the shrimp you bought at the supermarket or the shrimp dish you ordered at a restaurant was not from the sea.
Ninety percent of the shrimp eaten by Americans is imported from countries such as Thailand, India and Ecuador, where industrial shrimp farms are harming the environment and coastal communities, and producing unhealthy, flavorless shrimp. Unlike imported shrimp, US wild-caught shrimp, are unlikely to contain the chemicals that are used heavily on many foreign shrimp farms. The impact on the environment from shrimping in the United States is far less significant than those of many foreign shrimp farms. Most US shrimp spawn offshore in deep water from early spring through early fall and grow very quickly. Additionally, choosing shrimp from the Gulf, the Carolinas, Maine or Oregon supports the economic well-being of U.S. coastal communities.
There are four species of wild-caught shrimp commercially harvested in the Gulf of Mexico and the South Atlantic waters. Shrimp species are categorized by shell color: pink, white, brown, and royal red. The majority of the shrimp harvested in my area are the pink species.The meat is white with pink skin tones, firm texture and mild flavor.
Wild-caught white shrimp has a sweet taste and firm, almost “crunchy” meat which makes it a favorite of local chefs to use in a variety of recipes. They are harvested primarily in the fall from October through December. With a lifespan of up to 24 months, they can grow as large as eight inches.
Florida brown shrimp are harvested year round in both the Atlantic and Gulf waters with the highest yields June through August. Brown shrimp are named for their reddish brown shells and have a firmer texture than other varieties due to a higher iodine content. They can grow as large as nine inches long and have a maximum life span of 18 months.
Florida royal reds with their deep red color and soft, delicate texture have a unique taste that you won’t find in any other shrimp. Royal Reds are frozen onboard the ships and contain more salt than other shrimp so do not add salt to the water when cooking. Royal red shrimp are harvested in the deep Atlantic waters off the coast of St. Augustine with peak season in late summer through fall.
HOW MUCH TO BUY
- Raw, headless and unpeeled shrimp: 1/3 pound per serving.
- Peeled and deveined shrimp: 1/6 pound per serving
- Two pounds of raw, headless, unpeeled shrimp will yield 1 pound of cooked peeled and deveined shrimp.
- Shrimp are sized and sold by count (number of shrimp per pound) either whole or headless. For example, headless shrimp of 16-20 count means there are 16 to 20 headless shrimp per pound. Counts for headless shrimp range from under 10 (the largest shrimp) to 300-500 (the smallest.
- Store shrimp in the coldest part of your refrigerator at 32 degrees F and use within two days, or freeze at 0 degrees F for up to six months.
- Remember to purchase seafood last and keep it cold during the trip home.
Some of My Favorite Shrimp Recipes
- 1 cup Progresso Italian Panko Crumbs
- 1/3 cup very finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 4 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 lemon, zest and juice
- big pinch of crushed red pepper
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 3-4 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 1/2 pounds large shrimp, peeled and deveined
- Lemon wedges
1. Preheat the oven to 450°F. Lightly oil a large baking pan.
2. In a bowl, combine the panko crumbs, parsley, garlic, red pepper, lemon juice and zest. Add 2-3 tablespoons oil, just enough to moisten the crumbs.
3. Arrange the shrimp in the pan in a single layer, curling each one into a circle. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Spoon a little of the crumb mixture onto each shrimp. Drizzle with a little more oil.
4. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, depending on the size of the shrimp, or until the shrimp turn pink and the crumbs are lightly browned. Serve with lemon wedges.
Grilled Garlic Tomato Shrimp
- 1 1/2 pounds jumbo shrimp (16 to 20 per pound), shelled and deveined, with tails left intact
- 4 sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, drained and patted dry, chopped fine
- 3 large cloves garlic, minced
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil leaves
- 1/4 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Salsa Verde, recipe below
Mince together the tomatoes, garlic, parsley and basil. Turn into a medium bowl and stir in the hot pepper and olive oil. Toss shrimp with the tomato mixture. Keep cold in the refrigerator.
Sprinkle the shrimp with salt and pepper. Cook the shrimp on a lightly oiled, medium-hot grill, about 2 to 3 minutes per side, or until pink and just firm. Serve with Salsa Verde.
- 2/3 cup lightly packed flat-leaf parsley leaves
- 3 tablespoons drained capers
- 1 clove garlic
- 4 teaspoons lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon anchovy paste
- 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
- ¼ cup olive oil
- ¼ cup low sodium chicken broth
Put the parsley, capers, the garlic clove, the lemon juice, anchovy paste, mustard, salt, and pepper into a food processor or blender. Pulse just to chop, six to eight times. With the machine running, add the oil and chicken broth in a thin stream to make a slightly coarse puree.
How to Butterfly Shrimp for Stuffing
1. Use a sharp paring knife to cut along (but not through) the vein line, then open up the shrimp like a book
2. Using the tip of the paring knife, cut a 1-inch opening through the center of the shrimp.
3. After the shrimp have been butterflied and the opening has been cut, flip the shrimp over when placing in the baking dish, so that they will curl around the stuffing.
4. Divide the stuffing among the shrimp, firmly pressing the stuffing into the opening and to the edges of the shrimp.
Crab Stuffed Shrimp
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
• 1/2 cup egg substitute
• 1 cup Progresso Italian bread crumbs
• 2 tablespoons light or low fat mayonnaise
• 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
• 1/4 teaspoon oregano
• 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
• 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
• 1/2 pound lump crabmeat
• 1 pound large shrimp
• 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
Peel shrimp, leaving tails on; devein and butterfly shrimp according to the directions above.
Place shrimp in a baking dish coated with cooking spray with the tail pointing up and the shrimp curved into a circle. (Fan the tail out for handle)
Mix first 7 ingredients and gently fold into crab meat. Place a spoonful of crab meat mixture on top of the circle. Top with fresh parmesan and place baking dish in 350 degree F. oven for 15 minutes. Serve with lemon wedges.
Stuffed Shrimp Oreganata
- 1 pound large shrimp (16-20 per pound)
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 teaspoons garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup dry white wine
- 2 cups of fresh bread crumbs
- (made from Italian bread, crusts removed and processed into crumbs)
- 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
Preheat oven to 375°F. Peel and devein the shrimp, leaving the tail intact. To butterfly them, follow the directions above. Line a baking pan with aluminum foil or parchment paper, spray with nonstick spray and arrange the shrimp in a single layer.
Heat the butter and the olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant, soft and just beginning to turn golden – do not brown. Add the wine and cook for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat, add the breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, parsley, oregano, crushed red pepper, salt and black pepper. Mix well.
Spoon even portions of the breadcrumb mixture over each of the butterflied shrimp. Using your fingers, gently mold each portion of stuffing around the shrimp. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the shrimp turn pink and opaque. Remove from the oven, sprinkle with lemon juice and serve immediately.
You will need the following amounts for 2 servings. Recipe is easily doubled or tripled.
- 12 large shrimp (16-20 per pound), peeled and deveined
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1/4 cup egg substitute
- 1/3 cup Progresso Italian Style Panko Bread Crumbs
- Olive oil cooking spray
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 3/4 cup homemade marinara sauce, warmed, see post https://jovinacooksitalian.com/2012/04/19/hello-world/
- 3/4 cup shredded part skim mozzarella cheese
Preheat oven to 450°F. Spray a baking dish that fits the portion of shrimp you are making with cooking spray.
Place the egg substitute in a shallow bowl, and the Panko breadcrumbs in another.
Wash and dry the shrimp. Season shrimp with salt and pepper. Put shrimp in the bowl with the egg substitute to coat and then into the breadcrumbs. Place in the baking dish.
The shrimp can be prepared ahead up to this point. Cover the dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to bake.
Drizzle the top of the shrimp with the olive oil and bake on the middle oven rack for 12 minutes.
Pour sauce evenly over shrimp and then sprinkle with shredded mozzarella cheese.
Return to the oven and heat just until cheese melts about 3-4 minutes.
Shrimp Fra Diavolo with Spaghetti
In Italy the phrase “alla fra diavolo”, which means “in Brother Devil’s style,” refers to a dish in which chicken is sprinkled heavily with black pepper and then grilled. In America, lobster fra diavolo became a popular restaurant dish in the 1930s—it was unknown in Italy, where they do not have American lobsters. The reference to “brother Devil” refers both to the red color of the lobster and the tomato sauce and to the hot bite provided by the chile pepper, which suggests that this sauce might have originated with Abruzzese cooks who came to this country. Abruzzo is renowned for its hearty and spicy dishes that use hot red peppers, called diavolini (little devils) that grow well in that region of Italy. Crushed red chile peppers give this sauce a better flavor than cayenne pepper but you may need to adjust the amount based on your tolerance for hot peppers. I choose to make this dish with shrimp instead of lobster.
2 (28-ounce) containers Pomi chopped tomatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 bay leaves
4 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
2 medium onions, finely chopped
2 medium carrots, finely chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 (8-ounce) bottle clam juice
¼ teaspoon kosher or sea salt, taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons crushed red pepper
1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
8 fresh basil leaves, torn into quarters
In a Dutch oven heat the olive oil over medium heat and add the bay leaves and stir them in the oil until they begin to brown, about 10 seconds. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute, then add the onions, carrots, and oregano. Cook the vegetables until they are soft, about 10 minutes. Stir occasionally to prevent them from scorching.
Add the tomatoes, the tomato paste, salt and pepper, and clam juice. Bring to a boil. Lower the heat, and simmer, partially covered until the sauce thickens, about 1 to 1 ½ hours, stirring occasionally so it doesn’t stick. Remove bay leaves.
Cook spaghetti according to package instructions.
Stir crushed red pepper into sauce and lay the shrimp in the sauce, increase the heat to medium, and simmer until the shrimp turn pink, 4 to 6 minutes. Adjust the seasonings, add basil and serve over spaghetti.
- Shrimp Recipes: 13 Easy Ways To Cook Shrimp (huffingtonpost.com)
- Free the Shrimps (foryourowngood.org)
- Garlic Shrimp Pasta with Broccoli (thegoodcookermom.wordpress.com)
- Shrimp. Italian Style (sweetpaprika.wordpress.com)
- Stuffed Shrimp (spoonfeast.com)