Make this jerk shrimp pasta if you're in the mood for a 20 minute dinner that's spicy, blanketed in a creamy sauce, and bursting with flavor! It's similar to Jamaican Italian fusion Rasta Pasta, but can be adapted with pantry foods!
Looking for more easy pasta recipes like this jerk shrimp pasta- Lemony Carbonara, Pantry Black Bean Pasta, 15 Minute Pantry Tomato Sauce with Pasta & Sausage, Pistachio Pesto Pasta, and One Pot Chicken Bacon Mushroom Pasta.
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Rasta Pasta History
This jerk shrimp recipe is somewhat based off of rasta pasta, here's a brief history and resources for you about it:
Essentially the original rasta pasta recipe, the pasta I'm basing my jerk shrimp pasta on was developed by chef Lorraine Washington in 1985 at the Paradise Yard Restaurant in Negril, Jamaica.
She recounted placing some ackee & tomato sauce on fettuccini for a group of construction workers. One of them coined the term rasta pasta because of the colors in the dish and the fettuccini that looked like dreadlocks.
You can learn more about that story in this article.
How will this pasta make your life easier?
I decided to use pantry/kitchen ingredients to make this jerk shrimp pasta like frozen shrimp, fettuccini pasta, bell peppers, milk/cream, and green onions because a recipe never calls for the whole bunch.
Shrimp cooks up quickly- you can also pull it out of the fridge, thaw it in some water, and then toss them into the pan to make a quick dinner like jerk shrimp pasta, or Cajun Shrimp Tin Foil Packet or Steak and Shrimp Fajitas.
What makes this dish so good?
How do I make it?
*If you are making homemade Jamaican jerk seasoning, and or defrosting shrimp, start first, see expert tips for instructions.*
The first step in this jerk shrimp pasta recipe is to cook your pasta. Cook it according to the package directions, until just al dente. Save 1 tablespoon of pasta water and drain the rest.
Heat a sautee pan over medium-high heat, while it's heating, toss 4 oz shrimp with ½ teaspoon jerk seasoning in a small mixing bowl.
Once pan is hot, add 1 teaspoon olive oil and seasoned shrimp to pan. Cook 1-3 minutes on each side, until just pink. Remove and set aside.
While shrimp is cooking, slice ½ bell pepper into thin slices. Once shrimp is cooked and removed, add pepper to hot pan with ½ teaspoon jerk seasoning. Cook until pepper is softened, stirring occasionally. This should take 3-5 minutes.
Once pepper is softened, reduce heat to low, add in pasta, shrimp, and 1 tablespoon pasta water, 1-2 tablespoon heavy cream, 1 tablespoon grated parmesan cheese, a large handful of spinach, and a pinch of salt. Cook until sauce thickens and spinach wilts.
Serve your jerk shrimp pasta immediately.
- Make your own jerk seasoning for this jerk shrimp pasta, you may already have all the ingredients on hand (garlic powder, brown sugar, salt, onion powder, cayenne powder, thyme, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, black pepper, and sweet paprika. I didn't have allspice but substituted it with ½ the amount of ground cloves and ½ cinnamon. Google spice substitutions if you don't have one.
- Use your favorite pasta shape for this recipe.
- This pasta dish isn't very saucey, if you'd like more of a sauce, double or triple the pasta water + cream.
- This jerk shrimp pasta recipe was slightly spicy for me, adjust the jerk seasoning to make it as spicy as you'd like.
- Add whatever vegetables to this jerk shrimp pasta that you have in your fridge. It'd be great with mushrooms, zucchini, fresh tomatoes, or cauliflower.
- If you're making your own Jamaican jerk seasoning, definitely use scotch bonnet peppers in it if you can find them/like it hot!
- Using frozen shrimp? It defrosts really quickly when you place your frozen shrimp in a small bowl and cover them with warm water. You can replace the water if needed. It usually takes just 5 minutes for a small amount of shrimp. Make sure to pat it dry before mixing with seasonings.
- I recommend using a red, yellow, or orange bell pepper instead of a green one. These colorful peppers are sweeter than green peppers and you'll definitely want the extra sweetness in this recipe.
This jerk shrimp pasta recipe is very similar to rasta pasta recipes. Lots of modern rasta pasta recipes use penne pasta, fresh shrimp, jerk seasoning, heavy cream, spinach, garlic, and parmesan cheese. But the original rasta pasta was made with ackee and fettuccini.
Yes! You can learn more about the history of Jamaican jerk seasoning as well as what it's traditionally made with.
What can I make with leftover ingredients?
- Shrimp: Cajun Shrimp Tin Foil Packet, Steak and Shrimp Fajitas, or Sheet Pan Shrimp Dinner.
- Bell Pepper: Steak and Shrimp Fajitas, Small Batch No-Mayo Potato Salad, or Vegetarian Hash.
- Pasta Recipes
Did you make this jerk shrimp pasta? Leave me a comment & rating to share how it turned out!
Jerk Shrimp Pasta
- cutting board
- Small Pot with Lid
- Sautee pan
- rubber spatula
- Measuring cups, spoons
- Small bowl
- 2-3 oz Penne Pasta or other pasta
- 2 teaspoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil divided
- 4 oz Large Shrimp raw or frozen
- 1 teaspoon Jerk Seasoning divided
- ½ whole Bell Pepper Red, Yellow, or Orange preferably
- (1 tablespoon pasta water)
- 1-2 Tablespoon Heavy Cream
- 1 Tablespoon Grated Parmesan cheese
- handful Baby Spinach Leaves
- pinch Kosher Salt
- Cook 2-3 oz pasta according to package directions. Once pasta is al dente, reserve 1 tablespoon pasta water, and drain remaining water.
- In a small bowl, toss 4 oz shrimp in ½ teaspoon Jerk seasoning, set aside. On a cutting board, slice ½ bell pepper into about ¼ in strips, set aside.
- Heat a skillet over medium-high heat, once hot, add seasoned shrimp. Cook 1-3 minutes on each side, until each side just becomes pink. Remove and set aside.
- Return skillet to burner and add remaining 1 teaspoon olive oil, remaining ½ teaspoon Jerk seasoning, and sliced bell pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally until pepper is softened.
- Once pepper is softened, turn down heat to low. Add cooked pasta and shrimp, 1 T pasta water, 1-2 T hevy cream, 1 T grated parmesan cheese, a large handful of spinach, and a pinch of salt. Stir and cook until sauce thickens and spinach wilts. Remove and serve immediately.
- Buy Jerk seasoning or make your own, here's a link to the recipe I used.
- Use your favorite type of pasta in this dish.
- This pasta would be great with fresh tomatoes, zucchini, mushrooms, and lots of other vegetables. Clean out your fridge to make it.
- You can use milk, but it won't be as creamy. If using milk, I recommend adding some butter with it.
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