Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Recipe: Shrimp Provolone

This recipe is one of my originals. It can be described as a "Shrimp Fra Diavolo with Sausage and Cheese" but that doesn't quite get the entire feel of the dish.

Twenty or so years ago, I was reading a James Beard cookbook (American Cookery) and came across a dish that consisted of shrimp, pancetta, and tomato sauce. I didn't have pancetta, so I decided to use sweet Italian sausage instead, crumbled and browned. Then I added provolone cheese on top, and this dish was born! Sandra and I loved it the first time we made it.

Interestingly, the second, third, and fourth times I tried to make this dish, I failed miserably. I used cooked shrimp instead of raw, and apparently made a number of other mistakes until I got the hang of the dish.

With regard to the hot spices (cayenne, Tabasco, red pepper flakes), I tend to use a lot more when I'm cooking for just myself than when I'm cooking for my family (medium spice) or for company (mild spice). Keep that in mind when you make this.

Shrimp Provolone

Source:An original recipe by lar3ry
Prep Time:20 minutes
Cook Time:20 minutes
Yield:6 servings


1 pound uncooked medium shrimp, peeled and deveined

¼ to ½ pound Provolone cheese, sliced thin

1 pound pasta (linguine or spaghetti)

Butter (to taste)

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Parmesan cheese (to taste)


3 links sweet Italian sausage (frozen is best)

2 Tbs olive oil

3 cloves garlic, crushed

2 tsp dried basil flakes

1 15 oz can crushed tomatoes

½ tsp red pepper flakes (to taste)

Salt and pepper (to taste)

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Peel and devein shrimp, removing tails, set aside.

Chop Italian sausage by slicing links into ¼" slices, and then cutting each slice into six cubes about ¼" square. This works best if the sausages are frozen, and the cubes will retain their shape.

Heat olive oil in a 3-quart saucepan over medium-high heat. Add sausage and fry until they are all cooked (about five minutes). Add garlic and red pepper flakes, and cook an additional minute.

Mix in the crushed tomatoes and basil and stir to blend completely. Bring to a boil and simmer for 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat.

In a 9" x 13" oven-proof dish, spread a small layer of sauce. Assemble the shrimp in the dish, keeping the shrimp in a single layer. With a ladle, spoon more of the sauce on top of the shrimp until the shrimp is completely covered. Reserve remainder of the sauce.

Place slices of Provolone cheese on top of the shrimp. Tear some of the round cheese slices in half in order to have them cover even. You want at most three layers of cheese. Cover the oven-proof dish with aluminum foil and cook at 350°F for 40 minutes.

During the last 15-20 minutes of cooking, prepare pasta according to directions on box. Drain after it's cooked al dente, and drizzle with melted butter and extra-virgin olive oil to keep pasta from sticking together.

After the dish has baked for 40 minutes, remove the aluminum foil from the oven-proof dish, and turn oven controls to "broil." Broil for five minutes until cheese is brown and bubbly.

Serve shrimp and sauce over pasta. Add some of the reserved sauce on top, if desired. Serve with shredded Parmesan cheese.

  • Frozen sausage is best for this dish, as you can cut it into cubes easy and they will retain their shape as they cook. If using fresh sausage, don't cut it, but rather peel the casings off and cook the ground meat within it, crumbling it as it cooks.
  • DON'T USE JUMBO SHRIMP FOR THIS DISH! It will dilute the sauce too much, as the larger shrimp give off too much water as they cook! Medium to large shrimp work best.
  • If the sauce seems too thin, add 3 tbs. tomato paste to thicken.
  • Substitute 1 ½ pounds of chicken tenders if you don't like shrimp (we adapted this rule for my daughter, who doesn't really like shrimp).
  • Add ¼ pound of Prosciutto ham sliced thin and cut into tiny pieces and 2 oz. grated Parmesan cheese to sauce for additional taste.
  • Add up to 3 Tbs Tabasco Sauce and increase red pepper flakes for a much spicier dish!
  • Garnish dish with sliced pieces of fresh basil for a more professional presentation.

Bon Appetit!

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