Shrimp Fra Diavolo

From by Heather Schmitt-Gonzalez
Shrimp Fra Diavolo

Shrimp Fra Diavolo Photo

Recently I was planning a Halloween party for the first time in as many years as I can remember. I like attending parties this time of year — dressing up and getting into the spirit — but the last time I actually planned something was when my oldest child was still in elementary school (he's a senior now)...and that was a kid's party. I wanted something for the adults this time.

It all started with a couple of bottles of Casillero del Diablo wine; the name translating to "the devil's cellar" in honor of the legend behind the wine. I thought creating a Devilishly Fun Halloween Party would be a blast! Plus, adults are easy. A little ambiance, a fun playlist, a few beverages, and some tasty food is all we need.

Just as all of the songs on my playlist had the word "devil" in their titles, so did each dish on my menu. I chose to make this Shrimp Fra Diavolo as the main course, sandwiched between some deviled appetizers and a devil's food dessert. Traditionally, "fra diavolo" is the Italian term for something in a spicy sauce that is usually (but not always) tomato-based.

Shrimp Fra Diavolo Picture

Since this dish comes together so quickly and with so few ingredients, it can sometimes be boring or bland. Obviously I didn't want that. So I turned to America's Test Kitchen for some tips on how to avoid a dish that was just "blah". There were two things that I really loved about their method. First, they use both dried red chile flakes and pepperoncini to add heat to their sauce. Some of the pepperoncini brine also goes in and helps to add a brighter note to the final product.

My favorite tip for making sure the sauce had plenty of flavor, though, was starting with shell-on shrimp. Just like when making a shrimp bisque or a shellfish stock, you start by browning the shrimp shells and simmering them in the liquid base. If you've never tried this before, you'll be amazed at how much flavor you can extract from those delicate little shells and tails. Don't skip this step!

File 1 Shrimp Da Frivolo

Should I say it? Of course I should — this dish was DEVILISHLY delicious. But don't save it for Halloween parties, it would be a welcome addition to your table any day of the year.

Shrimp Fra Diavolo Image

My favorite way to eat it is simply as-is with some crusty bread for mopping up the flavorful juices at the bottom of the bowl. You could buy a loaf, or try making a loaf of this simple Cuban Bread, Kate’s French Bread, or Allison’s Rustic Bread! But it’s also tasty served over your favorite pasta. If you serve it this way, scoop some of the pasta cooking water into the sauce before you drain it — this helps the sauce and the pasta become one cohesive dish.

Shrimp Fra Diavolo Pic


Shrimp Fra Diavolo Recipe



  • 2 pounds large shrimp, 26 to 30 per pound with the shell on
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, or sea salt
  • 1 28 ounce can whole peeled tomatoes
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
  • 1 cup dry white wine, i used casillero del diablo sauvignon blanc
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons dried basil
  • 1-2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 fillets anchovy, rinsed, patted dry, and minced
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pepperoncini pepper, minced, plus 1 teaspoon brine from pepperoncini jar


  1. Peel and devein the shrimp, reserving the shells and tails in a small bowl as you go. Place the cleaned shrimp in a large bowl and sprinkle with the salt; toss and set aside.
  2. Set a colander over a large bowl. Pour the tomatoes and their juices into the colander. Use the side of a rubber spatula to pierce the tomatoes; press down and stir to release the juices inside of the tomatoes. Transfer the drained tomatoes to a small bowl, reserve the juices, and set the colander aside without washing it.
  3. Heat 1 tablespoon of the vegetable oil in a 12-inch skillet over high heat. Once the oil starts to shimmer, add the shrimp shells and cook until they turn brown in spots, stirring often, 2-4 minutes. Carefully add the wine to the skillet and let it bubble until it is reduced by at least three-quarters, 2-4 minutes. Pour in the reserved tomato juice, then reduce heat and allow to simmer for 5 minutes.
  4. Set the colander back over the large bowl and pour everything in the skillet into the colander. Press down gently on the shells to drain any liquid that may be hanging out inside of them. Discard the shells and save the shrimp-tomato broth.
  5. If the skillet has any residual pieces of shell on the bottom or sides, use a paper towel to wipe it out. Set the skillet back over medium heat and add the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil. Add garlic, basil, chile flakes (use less if you’re sensitive to spicy foods), and oregano and saute, stirring occasionally, until garlic just starts to color and smells good, 1 to 2 minutes. Add anchovies and stir for another 30 seconds.
  6. Add the reserved drained tomatoes and use a potato masher to smash them until only a few large chunks remain. Stir in the reserved shrimp-tomato broth. Increase the heat to medium-high and allow everything to simmer until mixture has thickened slightly, about 5 minutes.
  7. Add the shrimp to the skillet and simmer gently, stirring and turning shrimp often, until they are just cooked through, 4 to 5 minutes.
  8. Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the parsley, pepperoncini and brine.
  9. Serve over warm pasta or with a loaf of crusty bread for mopping up the glorious juices. 


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