Lighter Shrimp Scampi from Cleo Coyle

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This is my lighter take on the traditional version of shrimp scampi, and I use the term "traditional" loosely. Why? Because you will not find "shrimp scampi" in a cookbook of authentic Italian cuisine. This dish was born in America. When you order it in a restaurant, you'll usually be served a gratin of large shrimp that have been split, brushed with an obscene amount of garlic butter and then broiled. 

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This scampi recipe is not from any particular menu, it's simply my improvised, lighter version. The meal is satisfying yet healthy. Garlic, olive oil, fresh parsley, and seafood: all good stuff. You can make it even healthier by using a spinach, whole wheat, or low glycemic index pasta or even zoodles. When Marc and I make it, we practically inhale bowls of it. We hope you enjoy it as much as we do...

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Eat with joy!

~ Cleo Coyle, author of
The Coffeehouse Mysteries

☕ Cleo Coyle's
Lighter Shrimp Scampi

Serves 4

20-24 Large Shrimp (fresh or frozen) 
16 ounces spaghetti or angel hair (see my note)*
5 tablespoons olive oil 
6-8 cloves garlic, roughly chopped 
1 tablespoon butter 
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley (or 1/4 cup dried, but fresh tastes better!) 
1/4 cup Italian seasoned breadcrumbs (optional)
1/2 teaspoon oregano

*Note: To lower calories and carbs even more, choose low-carb noodles or swap the pasta for zoodles. You can also leave out the seasoned breadcrumbs and consider adding a sprinkling of Italian dried spice mix  instead.

(Optional finishers) Freshly ground pepper; a quick squeeze of fresh lemon wedge or a bit of lemon zest grated over the top; sea salt; or freshly grated Pecorino Romano or Parmigiano-Reggiano.


(1) First clean and peel your shrimp. If you are using frozen shrimp, defrost the shrimp first. Then make your pasta according to the package directions. I like angel hair but any pasta will work. To make this dish even more healthy, try spinach, whole wheat, or a specialty pasta with a low glycemic index. Drain well and set aside.

(2) Warm olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Throw in the chopped garlic cloves and saute for a minute or two. Toss in your shrimp. In 3 to 5 minutes, when they turn pink, stop the cooking. Do not overcook or shrimp will be tough and rubbery. Leave the oil in the pan but take out the shrimp and the garlic and set aside.

(3) Add the butter to the pan. When the butter melts, add your drained pasta, rolling around to coat well with the oil and butter. Toss in the Italian seasoned breadcrumbs, parsley, and oregano, and put your shrimp back into the pan to warm again.

(4) There is no need to add the chunks of garlic back in because by now the garlic has imparted its flavor to the oil. However, if you really like garlic (as we do), then throw it back in there, baby! Toss all ingredients together and serve.

Finish: Although there is much debate about whether to serve seafood pasta dishes with cheese, Marc and I enjoy grating Pecorino Romano over the top. Freshly ground pepper is also nice on this dish and/or a squeeze of lemon.


Eat (and read) with joy!

~ Cleo Coyle

New York Times bestselling author of
The Coffeehouse Mysteries

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