My recipe for Tuscan shrimp is brimming over with mouthwatering tastes and textures. Juicy, seasoned shrimp and tender, sauteed spinach get bathed in a rich, creamy sun-dried tomato sauce to create a dish that is savory, tangy, and slightly sweet.
Today’s Tuscan shrimp recipe is a lavish combination of tender shrimp with baby spinach leaves and a creamy sun-dried tomato sauce. I call it lavish because — trust me here — this is not your average tomato sauce. Smooth, heavy cream and zingy sun-dried tomatoes join tangy parmesan and earthy walnuts in one of the richest, most intensely flavored sauces you will ever encounter.
I like to whip up this Tuscan shrimp anytime I need a quick meal that is sure to please. Make it for a quick weeknight dinner or feature it at your next dinner party. It is that easy and that delicious!
Table of Contents
- Heavy Cream – Gives the sauce a rich, harmonizing creaminess. You may also find this labeled as heavy whipping cream in the dairy section.
- Walnuts – Add an earthy, nutty, and slightly bitter richness to the sauce — especially when blended into the sauce.
- Sun Dried Tomatoes – With everything tomatoes have to offer in a concentrated form, they bring the dish to life with a potent pop of sweet, tangy, and umami flavors.
- Parmesan Cheese – Offers the sauce its classic complex flavor, with salty, nutty, and even fruity tones. In a bind, you can use a cheese like asiago or romano instead.
- Shrimp – Go with medium-sized shrimp that are peeled, deveined, and have their tails removed before cooking. Frozen shrimp are fine, but be sure to thaw them overnight in the refrigerator for best results.
- Spices – In addition to the creamy tomato sauce, this dish is seasoned with a simple, yet tasty blend of garlic, red pepper flakes, kosher salt, and black pepper.
- Baby Spinach – Fresh, tender baby spinach leaves add a clean, earthy flavor, contrasting texture, and a lovely splash of green color.
- Basil – A handful of fresh basil leaves on top freshens up the dish with a blast of spicy-sweet, aromatic flavor.
If you are craving the flavor of this Tuscan shrimp recipe but can’t use shrimp for whatever reason, don’t fret. You can follow these same exact instructions while substituting chicken, salmon, or even tofu in place of shrimp.
Just make sure to follow the proper procedure for handling and cooking any alternative protein. For example, chicken pieces will need to be cooked a bit longer than shrimp, etc.
- Make the Sauce. Combine the heavy cream, walnuts, cheese, and sun-dried tomatoes in a blender or food processor and blend until it is the consistency of a thick paste. Set the mixture aside. Alternatively, you can add each ingredient separately to the skillet later. However, I’ve found the blending method to produce the best results.
- Sear the Shrimp. Place a large skillet with olive oil over medium-high heat. Use salt and pepper to season both sides of the shrimp. Wait for the oil to begin shimmering, then add the shrimp. Sear for about 2 minutes on each side until the shrimp is opaque and starting to turn a light golden brown. Remove and set aside on a plate.
- Saute the Spinach. Turn the heat down to medium and melt the butter in the same skillet. Saute the garlic and red pepper flakes for about a minute before adding in the spinach. Cook the spinach until it begins to wilt and release its water. Push the spinach to the perimeter of the pan, leaving the center of the pan clear.
- Add the Sauce. Pour the sun-dried tomato and cream mixture into the center of the pan. Reduce the heat to low as the cream melts and begins to gently bubble. Simmer for about 3 minutes.
- Stir in the Shrimp. Transfer the shrimp back to the skillet and mix well to combine all ingredients. Cook for about a minute or until all of the shrimp are thoroughly heated. Adjust seasoning to suit your taste and garnish with fresh basil on top. Combine with any pasta of your choice and enjoy!
No. Despite its fiery red color, Tuscan shrimp is not traditionally spicy. Instead, this dish is delightfully buttery, tart, savory, and sweet.
The red sauce in this shrimp recipe is made with sun-dried tomatoes, heavy cream, walnuts, and cheese — no peppers in sight! Feel free to add some crushed red pepper flakes if you like.
Tuscan shrimp is perfect for serving over any of your favorite pastas. Or for a gluten-free option, you can switch it up with some mashed potatoes or simple Basmati Rice.
To complement the heavier flavors of the dish, I recommend pairing this Tuscan shrimp recipe with a simple vegetable side dish. Steamed broccoli, grilled asparagus, or a fresh garden salad like this Lebanese Fattoush or Mediterranean Chopped Vegetable Salad are all great options.
Oh, and to make sure you don’t miss one drop of this delicious sauce, go ahead and include some buttery garlic bread or this scrumptious Cheese Bread to clean your plate.
For the best results, I recommend serving this dish as fresh as possible. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t set yourself up for success.
Up to a day in advance, you can ensure your shrimp is peeled and deveined, your cream sauce is blended, and your vegetables and spices are measured. That way, the Tuscan shrimp recipe will come together in a flash when it’s time to eat.
Store any leftovers in the refrigerator, in an airtight container, and enjoy within 3-4 days.
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Shrimp and Spinach
- 1/4 cup basil thinly sliced
- In a blender or food processor add the cream, sun dried tomatoes, walnuts and cheese. Blend until a thick paste forms. (See Note 1) Set aside.
- Season shrimp on both sides with the salt and pepper. Add olive oil to a large skillet over medium-high heat. When oil starts to shimmer add shrimp and sear both sides until golden, about 2 minutes each side (shrimp should be opaque). Remove from skillet and set aside.
- Reduce heat to medium and melt the butter. Add the garlic, red pepper flakes and sauté, about 1 minute. Add the spinach and cook until spinach begins to wilt and water is released. Spread to outside of skillet, leaving center of pan open.
- Add tomato cream paste mixture to center of skillet and bring to a simmer. The thick tomato cream will begin to melt. Reduce heat to low and simmer until sauce is bubbling, about 3 minutes.
- Return shrimp to skillet and stir to combine all ingredients. Cook until shrimp are heated through, a minute. Season to taste and garnish with basil on top before serving over pasta of choice.
- Feel free to add the cream, walnuts, sun dried tomatoes and parmesan cheese in separately instead of blending. I just find the blender makes great work of chopping the tomatoes, walnuts and cheese easier than by hand and the paste is fantastic.
The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.