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Pasta and Shrimp Sauce

This is another of the recipes taught to me by our Grandma Sweetheart, Rose and is my daughter's favorite.

It is also one of those recipes where the amounts and the timing are really just guidelines because it all depends on your taste. I’ll give you what I use but understand you can change it; I did. Rose never used the shrimp shells the way I do but I find it gives a deeper flavor to the sauce.

Be careful NOT to overdo the cloves and basil as the 2 have a synergistic, similar flavor.

This is a relatively thin, smooth textured sauce.

The hardest part of the whole thing is cleaning the shrimp. I really recommend foisting this job off on someone else whenever possible.


  • 1 large yellow onions, diced
  • 28 oz Furmano's Crushed Tomatoes, 18 oz Hunt's Tomato Paste, 14.5 oz Del Monte Petite Cut diced tomatoes
  • about 1/2 cup or 4 ounces extra virgin olive oil
  • water to taste to dilute tomato paste to thickness desired and to boil shrimp shells in
  • 12 whole cloves
  • 8 whole bay leaves
  • 1 Tablespoon white sugar
  • 1 scant Tablespoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • fresh basil to taste, maybe 8 stems with, oh, 8 or so leaves each
  • 1 cup grated, dry Romano cheese (plus more for topping at table)
  • about 1 pound fresh or frozen then defrosted shrimp at least as large as #30 (30 shrimp per pound) per 4 servings. Shrimp should have shells on when purchased.
  • 16 ounces or about 450 grams pasta per 4 servings. (I like linguine with this sauce)

Cooking Method

  • dice onion
  • sauté onion in large, heavy pot with olive oil until brown and reduced; cook well but don’t burn
  • add petite diced tomato and tomato sauce, cook awhile to reduce/melt onions
  • Blend onion and tomato mix using stick blender until smooth.
  • Clean shrimp saving shells and discarding veins. Place clean shrimp in refrigerator.
  • Boil shrimp shells and whole cloves in water, then simmer for awhile to extract flavors
  • Strain out the shells and cloves and save the flavored water
  • Combine tomato paste, salt, pepper, flavored water, bay leaves, basil, and blended onion/tomato mix with enough additional water to thin to desired serving consistency or slightly thinner (sauce will thicken a little bit during cooking)
  • bring to a boil, stir well then simmer for several hours with lid on. Stir every 20 minutes or so to prevent the bottom from burning
  • about 30 minutes before serving time add cheese, and sugar
  • if possible put someone else in charge at this point and go take a shower
  • continue to cook but stir more frequently, the cheese and sugar burn easily
  • put water on to boil for pasta
  • cook pasta al dente
  • add shrimp to the sauce, they will be done at about the same time as the pasta. Be careful not to overcook shrimp.
  • bring sauce back to a quick boil then return to simmer after adding shrimp
  • correct seasonings (cheese, basil, salt, pepper, sugar) and add water if sauce is too thick
  • serve with the same grated cheese and fresh/raw small leaf basil (optional) at the table
  • Only cook as much shrimp as will be eaten that night. More can be added to leftover sauce the next time it is served. The sauce freezes and re-heats well, the shrimp do not.

In Baltimore THE PLACE for Italian Groceries is:
Trinacria Macaroni Works
open 8:30 to 4:30 Monday to Saturday
406 N Paca St
Baltimore, MD 21201-1880

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