If you’ve been to an Italian restaurant recently, there’s a good chance that you’ve seen shrimp alfredo on the menu. That’s because it’s a great way to get some lean protein and some light flavors into a pasta dish, taking it from a side dish into a complete meal. It’s also an excellent way to provide a meal for someone who’s having trouble keeping food down — which is the main reason it was created in the first place!
What’s The History of Shrimp Alfredo?
Shrimp alfredo dates back to the early 20th century, when a pregnant woman in Italy was having trouble keeping food down and needed to eat something. The woman was the wife of the owner of Rome’s Via della Scrofa restaurant, Alfredo di Lelio, so he fixed her a plate of pasta in white sauce, hoping that the mild flavors would allow her to keep the meal down and get past her nausea. The dish was agreeable to both her stomach and her palate, and she continued eating it throughout her pregnancy, causing Alfredo to add it to the menu.
In the United States, the dish arrived almost by complete accident. During their shoot in Italy, actors Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford stopped at Via della Scrofa and tasted Alfredo’s sauce over the pasta of the day, fettuccine. They loved the dish and asked for the recipe so they could bring it back to the United States. When they returned home, they sent Alfredo a picture of themselves in the restaurant, catching the attention of the Hollywood media and popularizing the dish in the United States.
Shrimp became a part of the dish when American restaurants, such as Olive Garden, chose to add to the dish by including proteins, such as chicken and shrimp. As shrimp pairs well with pasta because of its mild, buttery flavor, it proved a natural pairing for the dish.
What Variations Exist on Peppered Shrimp Alfredo?
The most obvious way to change the dish is to change the spices that you add to your shrimp. Basic black pepper is an excellent way to add some spice to your shrimp pasta, but Cajun spices are another popular choice. Lemon pepper is another great way to add some flavor without overpowering your cream sauce, which is the heart of the dish. The general rule of thumb is that if you could see yourself eating shrimp alone with it, it’s a reasonable addition to the dish.
How Do You Make Peppered Shrimp Alfredo?
First, you need to decide whether you’re going to make your own Alfredo sauce or use a store-bought version. In either case, you’ll want to add flavors to make sure that it’s done according to your taste. Remember, the shrimp isn’t the star of this dish — the star is the pasta and the Alfredo sauce, so the flavors you use are vital to the dish’s success.
Next, you’ll have to decide whether you want to add vegetables to the pasta or simply use spices and herbs. If you opt for vegetables, peppers and mushrooms are common choices. Either way, you’ll need to cook your shrimp until it’s opaque and cook the pasta until it reaches al dente status. Once both of those things are completed, make sure your sauce is the right flavor and consistency and combine the three for a full meal.
When it comes to Italian cooking, simple is often better, and in the case of shrimp Alfredo, it doesn’t get much more simple in terms of preparation. But that’s a good thing, because the sauce tastes so luxurious that it’ll feel like a dish that took all day to make — even though it only took about a half hour!