“There’s nothing more romantic than Italian food” ~ Elisha Cuthbert
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I met my husband one summer afternoon in our town’s version of a soup kitchen. It’s not every day you meet a guy who makes bread pudding for 100, and then quietly makes his way to the backroom to run the dishwasher for hours afterward.
Who is this man? Where did he come from?
Luckily, he practiced his love of cooking at home too. I married him for his big heart and quick wit, sure, but his skills in the kitchen were a very close third. I smile when I think back on our first year of marriage when he wooed me with candles, wine, and some pretty incredible
It went something like this; we’d walk to the neighborhood grocery together. After far too long spent wandering the aisles, we’d make our way home. He always carried the bag, weighted down from tomatoes, some really great cheese, and a few impulse buys to carry us through
“Pasta?” I’d ask, an ask that was more a bit of nostalgia. A reminder of the many dinners of buttery parmesan noodles I made during the years my kids were little
He’d smile and agree
After a glass or two of wine, good music and conversation, dinner was usually started much later than either of us had planned. Sure enough, there were a few things we’d forgotten. So he’d put his shoes back on and head off into the night. Random texts exchanged as he walked the aisles.
“A bottle of bubbly instead of the red, please?”
“Garlic(!) I think we’re low.”
“Where again is the organic dark chocolate?”
“Never mind, I found it.”
More often than not, it was well after dark by the time the ingredients were procured. By that time I’d already eaten a few too many slices of cheese, put on my pajamas, the puppies were napping, and I was fading quickly.
Much to my surprise, we’d wake the next morning to a spotless kitchen and a pot of homemade red sauce in the fridge just waiting for dinner. In those moments I knew it was love, there’s no bigger or better word for it than
It’s rare that he cooks from a formal recipe, but when I tasted this one, I instantly knew it was similar to one of my favorite variations. Just in case you want to surprise your spouse, neighbor, or a little one. There’s no one that wouldn’t love this pasta
Most importantly? At our house, there’s no one who doesn’t love its creator
Some readers may have romantic notions around what a good tomato sauce should be. It can be a tough sell to ask you to break with some of those hearty, meaty, long-simmering sauces.
But it’s spring and what better time to lighten things up a bit.
This sauce exudes the essence of tomatoes. Add to that sophistication of the Madeira, along with shrimp, and you have a pasta dish that’s a real attention grabber.
Capers add a briny exclamation point, while fried shallot rings lend a crisp element.
A few notes about the recipe:
In the original, two shallots are used to make the rings, and honestly, we were left wishing for more. I think I’d consider using either four or five shallots, or an even onion to make the crisps instead
In the original, a shrimp broth is made by boiling the shells in water. I wasn’t quite this ambitious (although included the steps below, and instead substituted some homemade chicken broth. I’m sure vegetable broth would work great as well.
~ Adapted from Fine Cooking | April & May 2016
Pasta with Shrimp in Madeira Wine Sauce
- 8 oz. campanile pasta (or pasta of similar size)
- 4 shallots, sliced lengthwise
- 4 Tbsp olive oil + more as needed
- 1 ½ lb. extra-jumbo shrimp, 16 to 20 per lb. shelled and deveined, shells reserved
- fine grain sea salt + freshly ground black pepper
- 2 Tbsp butter, unsalted
- 3 large cloves garlic thinly sliced
- ½ cup Madeira (Marsala is a great alternative)
- 1 lb cherry or grape tomatoes
- 1 (15 oz) can diced fire-roasted tomatoes
- ¾ cup coconut milk (the original calls for heavy cream)
- ½ cup chicken broth
- 2 Tbsp capers, drained but not rinsed
- 2 Tbsp chives, thinly sliced
- good quality Parmesan cheese
- Bring a 6-quart pot of well-salted water to a boil.
- Cook the pasta according to the package directions until al dente.
- Drain the pasta and set aside to cool
- Season the shrimp with a pinch sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- In a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat, add the butter along with 2 Tbs. of the oil
- Add half of the shrimp and cook until they're just cooked through, about 30 seconds per side.
- Transfer to a plate and repeat with the remaining shrimp
- Madeira Wine Sauce
- Add the remaining 2 Tbs. oil and shallot strips to the skillet and cook, stirring, until golden brown in spots (~ 2 to 3 minutes)
- Add the garlic and cook a minute more
- Add the Madeira and cook until the wine has almost fully evaporated (~ 3 minutes)
- Add the tomatoes and cook until most have burst and their liquid is reduced by half (~ 4 to 5 minutes)
- Add the fire-roasted tomatoes, chicken broth, and coconut milk (or heavy cream if using)
- Cook until the sauce thickens (~ 4 to 5 minutes)
- Add the shrimp and cook until the dish has just heated through.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper
- Finish & Serve
- Add the pasta and capers to the sauce and toss, adding additional chicken broth to loosen the sauce, if needed
- Divide the pasta among four shallow bowls, garnish with the chives, freshly ground Parmesan cheese and serve.
i loved reading your story, i too have memories that revolve around food and when i recreate said dish – it does bring on nostalgia. this pasta is beautiful & i love that madeira sauce, i haven’t made one like it before.
If your going to make a recipe always go with the jumbo shrimp. Go big or go home. Looks really delicious.
Inspiration is in the air. I’m thinking Ali about a new diet. I’m just going to read your blog. But, your writing is sooo good enough to eat, I’d probably still gain weight!
Ah this looks amazing! My favorite foods are the ones that evoke a happy memory. Lovely recipe~
Wow look really yummy, and pasta is my favorite food, but I went vegan 5 months ago if you do do vegan recipe I would actually I appreciate it 😀 thank you for sharing
Oooooh! This looks so delicious! I love pasta and red sauce and shrimp so I’m pretty sure I’d like this dish.
This recipe looks incredible. I have been looking for some new pasta dishes will be adding the beauty to my list
This looks so delicious! Perfect for this cold windy night!
What a wonderful story, and recipe! Isn’t amazing how certain food can bring back vivid memories?
What a charming story. This man of yours seems one in a million. Lucky you. I love pasta and am definitely going to give this recipe a go. Lovely post.
You are such a lucky girl! And keep the carbs rollin’ sister! I made your birthday cake a week ago for my husband and he loved it. Now I’m officially on a mission for some really great shrimp so I can recreate this amazing looking pasta dish. I even have some homemade pasta from a friend in the freezer. Cheers!
Oh my! Sounds simply delicious. My two favorite ingredients for an instant flavor boost and protein – wine and shrimp. And for dessert? Of course, sorbet, gelato, or pannacotta. ? Thanks for the recipe!
It’s been a year since my boyfriend and I moved in together and I’ve become addicted to cooking, our most enjoyable moments are at our dinner table with our kids, who, to my deep regret do no appreciate my cooking (yet). We talk, laugh, and enjoy each other. In my searches to once again surprise my dearest, I came across your site, and have visited often ever since. I’ve loved reading your story. Your site is truly wonderful, there is such a sense of warmth and it inspires me to keep cooking and try new things … such as this lovely pasta …!
Sounds delicious! I’m leaving for Italy in early August and I’m going out of my mind with anticipation. Thanks for getting my taste buds all warmed up!
That Pasta with Shrimp in Madeira Wine Sauce looks delicious! I love how certain foods can transport us to different points in our lives and help us relive old memories. Whenever I make homemade pasta sauce (which isn’t that often) I’m instantly brought back to the 90s, cooking in my grandma’s kitchen!
I pretty much like any type of pasta, but I especially love those recipes with creamy tomato sauce. I’m trying to image it with coconut milk and it sounds very interesting. Thanks for the idea!
That is such a cute meet up story! My husband and I met through friends where I called him the cute stranger in the room, lol. I have the genes for cooking while he loves to eat my meals. win – win.
What a wonderful story you shared about you and your husband. It made me feel all warm inside. I’ve never made anything with wine before (although I know it’s common to use it with sauces) so I’m excited to try this.
A man who can cook like that — and make an enjoyable evening out of it — is a keeper! I, too, married a chef. It’s come in handy so many times throughout our 24+ years together. And now I’m hungry after looking at your photos!
You’re lucky to have found a husband who likes to cook. That’s so rare these days! Some say pasta dishes are overrated, but there are some delicious (and they don’t even have to be complicated) recipes out there. Thanks for sharing this with some beautiful pictures.
Before we had kids we cooked a lot together. Now we really feel like we rush through the process to get dinner on the table. Thank you for sharing your story. I feel like food always brings back great memories. This dish looks fantastic.
I’m always fascinated every time wine is incorporated in a recipe. I wonder how the taste would differ if it’s not added. Coconut milk is another interesting ingredient in this recipe.
This looks like a tasty meal. My hubby and I like to cook together so I’m thinking I might have to suggest this to him for our next dinner together night.
I think it is really sweet how you met your husband and he still love to cook. It is awesome when the men take over the kitchen to make you a dinner. Italian food is indeed romantic food I believe. This sauce sounds amazing and I know my family would love the recipe. Thanks for sharing your interesting evening and the recipe.
Such beautiful memories and such a lovely dish. I’d have to agree that adding more shallots is a great idea.
I am pretty sure this dish is going to be delicious and become a new favorite! We love shrimp and pasta in our house. I need to learn how to cook with wine like this! I’m going to give it a try!
It would be interesting to switch up this recipe and try it with a variety of different noodle styles. I always like being creative with shrimp dishes.
A man who can cook and does dishes is definitely a keeper. Shrimp is one of my favorites to cook with. This pasta dish is perfect for this time of the year.
I love how certain dishes can take us back to a place in time. This dish looks not only pretty but delicious as well. Thank you so much for sharing the story that goes with it.
This dish looks delicious and the beautiful love story that accompanied it warmed my heart. It’s amazing how food can bring nostalgia. Thank you for sharing!
I have not cooked a lot with wine but I guess I should start! This looks so good and like it would be filling for everyone.
He sounds like a keeper! Food isn’t the only way to a man’s heart, it’s the way to a woman’s as well!
Food is often tied to memories for me, too. I have never tried a madeira wine sauce but it sounds like something worth making for sure. I can’t wait to make this!
I love pasta and seafood, a great combo! The color of this meal is so beautiful.
Such beautiful memories and this dish looks amazing! ? Thank you for sharing!
The Madeira wine sauce sounds so good and combining it with shrimp and pasta is heaven.
Your husband sounds a lot like mine. He loves to cook and share his love with those around him. I feel so blessed to have married someone who cooks!
The first time we had pasta with shrimp I fell in love with it because it was made very spicy and I love food with lots of spice and pepper
Pasta and shrimps are always my faves! But yeah, your hubby sounds like a keeper. Anyhow, this is something I’d love to try! Maybe with some other kinds of noodles too.
I love your love story. It reads like a published romance novel. Men that cook, clean AND do dishes are so hard to find nowadays. Memories like this will forever be cherished.
My family loves pasta. I will have to add this to our try list. I’ll end up fighting my kids to cook it, however, as they love to be in the kitchen.
I don’t mean to promote anyone, just sharing the info. Please, delete comment, if it’s against your policies. But, if you ever in Santa Fe, Texas, there is an amazing winery, one out of the three in U.S. which are allowed to produce Madeira, away from actual island. I live close to them, will treat myself with making this sauce.
My fiancé loves to cook too! It was so sweet reading a little part of your love story! We’re very big on the one-bowl meal in our house as well — and I happen to have some beautiful packages of pappardelle sitting in the cupboard. So as soon as I’m able to pick up some shrimp at the market…
My daughter said “You should make this when we have company” This dish is divine. We used rotini and thought it was perfect. Stirred some freshly grated parmesan into the pasta right before serving (and then topped with a little more parm and freshly ground pepper). Mmmm.
Hi Ali! I just wanted to say I’m rediscovering your blog/writing after a long break (probably two years and a baby later), and it is so very, very lovely. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and your life so beautifully.
Squeal with delight because I almost did when I saw a brand new post here! I enjoyed the love story as I did the recipe. And this pasta? I’ll be trying it out soon. Pasta and shrimps are always the way to go! 🙂
I don’t usually leave comments on blogs, but this recipe was out of this world and we needed that this week. Take care and thanks for always being so honest and open about life. It really that takes a lot of courage.
Your love story would fit so well in a little town from Tuscany. Indeed there is a lot of love shown through cooking and when you find a man who loves to impress you with his skills, don’t let him go! 🙂 I would love to try this recipe out, especially that I am a bit of a pasta lover as well and I just did a Madeira wine tasting a couple of weeks ago. 🙂
Thanks for the recipe but I also enjoy the story very much! I would try out the Madeira Wine Sauce. I never knew wine needed to add in for making the pasta. I am sure it would taste so much after added in the special ingredient. Cant wait to check it out!
Sounds wonderful. Looking around today for a good, comforting dish to bring to a friend who’s just had a big loss. I think this will be perfect for her. Thanks for sharing it.
This story of love and food made me smile, it sounds like you have both a wonderful man and wonderful food, is there anything better?!
I just came home from the grocery with some really gorgeous shrimp knowing I’d find something special to do with them … and voila! I look forward to reading your posts every week, it inspires me to actually get into the kitchen and enjoy being there. Thanks!
I am new to your blog ? and I love it..
You have a new happy follower ?
Yummy! This recipe looks delicious. The love story behind it makes it a keeper. Yummy! This recipe looks delicious. The love story behind it makes it a keeper. ?? There’s nothing great love can’t do ❤️
I needed some comfort food today while we’re getting ready for a huge snow storm. It’s grey, windy, and they say the snow will start overnight. This was the perfect dish, but yet I’m the biggest sucker for any sauce made with wine. xx
I have loved reading this one. The story of your love and the delicious recipe, it all reminds me of the early time of being with the man that is now my husband. He made me cordon bleu for our first valentines. Great memories!
This Shrimp Pasta dish looks amazing. I don’t know what I would do with a man who cooks! Great catch. 😉
I love pasta and so does my wife and kids. This recipe will definitely make me look good and competent. Now, I just have to work on the wooing part to impress.
I have to agree with the quote saying there is nothing more romantic than Italian food! I might be a little biased since I am Italian lol Shrimp is a staple in my household so we are always looking to try new recipes that incorporate shrimp. This sauce sounds like it is to die for. I enjoyed reading this story and recipe 🙂 definitely adding it to my recipe list
What a great way to meet the hubs! Sounds like you both have a heart of gold. The recipe looks amazing and I can’t wait to see what it tastes like. I hope mine will turn out as good as yours! Thank you for the recipe
There are fewer things sexier than a man that knows his way around a kitchen. You’ve found a good one, that’s for sure! I love a good pasta as well. Your photos are great and I can imagine the scent of the food. Delicious!
Some of my fondest memories are sparked by smells of dishes. I loved reading your story and this recipe looks so yummy I will be trying it this weekend!
Reading you is soooo enjoyable! The story flows and everything seems so quiet (and I write so while my two kids are fighting and squabbling over some LEGO toys). The pictures of your pasta recipe is mouthwatering! I love pasta, I’m married to an Italian (who doesn’t cook) but I love Italian food and on our many many trips to Italy I have learnt to prepare different dishes which, like you say never fail to delight everyone!
PAsta with shrimp is my favorite combo. I love this and looks delish!
Tomatoes are my favorite vegetable. Or is it my favorite fruit. LOL. And I agree with the person who said she would substitute chicken for the shrimp. I love how smells bring back memories.
What a sweet story about you and your husband! My fiance made me pasta for the first few years we were dating. To be fair, we were still in high school. This pasta looks amazing!!
I think the tone of love behind the recipe is my favorite thing about it. 🙂 Love that you stressed high quality cheese. There really is a difference between it and bargain cheeses.
You’re so lucky to have a husband that cooks for you. I’d love for my fiance to cook for me once in a blue moon, or even want to learn to cook, I have all the time in the world to teach him. This looks like a lovely recipe and the sauce sounds fabulous!
How you met your husband is way more romantic than how I met my boyfriend ahah! This pasta looks delicious! I love shrimp and haven’t had them in a while!
Of all the food blogs that are out there, I keep coming back to you because you’re real. I can relate to you on so many levels and always look forward to new posts. The pasta looks incredible, as do all of your recipes. xo
That’s such a great memory of such a beautiful time. It’s so nice to remember the little things our loved one does for us. It helps us through all the difficult times. And it makes us remember they do think of those things about us and care about who we are and what we appreciate. As for the dish it looks and sounds amazing. Any bit of shrimp and I am in heaven anyway. I will have to try this out on my own unfortunately as my daughter isn’t into seafood much . . . except clam chowder. Go figure!
This recipe looks delish! We don’t make too many meals with shrimp, I know my family will really enjoy this meal
I am not a sea-food lover. But I am a pasta lover and I would actually not mind eating this. I can practically smell it through the screen! Thanks for the new recipe!
Such a beautiful story and boy do I like me a man that can cook. I cant wait to surprise my husband with this recipe. Thanks for sharing!
Two years ago, my best friend brought me a batch of your granola to get me through the first days of breastfeeding after my daughter was born. This winter, I finally had some extra time to dig through the archives. I have been systematically reading all of your lovely stories and making the recipes for my family. My husband declares them delicious. Thanks for sharing your kitchen and part of the world with us.
My husband takes people on culinary adventures to Italy. I know, how cool is that?! We’re heading to Roma and Apulia in April and I can’t wait to eat my favorite pasta dishes (which never taste quite as good at home)
Hi Ali! We are carb-loading at our house this winter. I don’t think we’ve gone a week in the past couple of months where we haven’t had pasta at least twice. We even had a little pasta party last week with friends. So, please, keep the pasta recipes coming ?
I felt so happy that you have a husband who loves to cook, you both seem o be a perfect match then. True so love over food is for sure a perfect essence then. This Pasta looks incredibly awesome and amazing to have it with loved ones.
I’ve been reading your beautiful blog for quite a while, although I’ve never left a comment. Your writing reminds me of everything that I love about food and also about life. You’ve inspired me so much! This pasta recipe is pure heaven and the photos are amazing. xo
Pasta is one of my favorite foods and your recipe looks delicious. I loved reading your story, my husband also cooks for me and he has often surprised me with his skills.
I’ve only begun reading your blog in the last few months and the story of you and your husband is fantastic! Perfect for a hopeless romantic like myself. Congratulations on all the success with the blog and with love! ?
Good food and amazing company is all thats required for a wonderful evening. Lucky you! And I am going to try the recipe out just that I’ll remove shrimp as I am vegetarian. Hope it comes out well 🙂
I shared this post with my colleagues last week and we all became extremely emotional, I am so happy you both found one another and in such a great way too, over love of food and supporting others.
Long-time lurker here. I’ve been meaning to write you to tell you that every recipe I’ve attempted from your site has been fabulous, and I’ve enjoyed your writing so very much! Now, I’m off to make some pasta for my new bride! xx