This Spicy Shrimp Bolognese Will Warm Up Your Winter Routine

Shrimp bolognese
 Photograph by Johnny Miller

Chances are you’ve never had a seafood pasta like the one chef Andrew Carmellini serves at his New York City restaurant, Little Park. That’s because rather than sautéing the crustaceans whole, Carmellini roughly chops them into tiny pieces before gently poaching them in a fragrant seafood broth. It arrives resembling a classic ragù—but the first bite never fails to surprise. “It’s like a shrimp Bolognese,” says the two-time James Beard Award winner. “We’re always trying to rethink the good things you already know.”

Carmellini uses homemade squid-ink lumache, a seashell-shaped noodle, but dried rigatoni subs nicely. The broth is easy—just toss shrimp shells, veggies, and herbs into a pot with water and simmer. (If possible, get head-on shrimp—the heads the broth an even deeper richness.) Pickled hot peppers—straight from the jar—ad heat and tang. To make it truly special, hunt down some bottarga, the salted, cured fish roe found in the Mediterranean (it’s available on Amazon), and grate it on top before serving, just like you’d sprinkle Parmesan on your meat sauce. Says Carmellini: “It adds an umami funk and emphasizes the sea.”


Serves 4 to 6


  • 1 lb fresh lumache, preferably squid ink lumache (or substitute 1 lb dried rigatoni)
  • l lb fresh shrimp (preferably head on)
  • 1 bulb fennel, sliced in half
  • 2 stalks celery, whole
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme
  • 1 sprig fresh tarragon
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup pickled hot Italian peppers (preferably B&G), roughly chopped
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • Juice and zest of 2 lemons
  • 1 sprig, plus 16 leaves fresh basil
  • 2 tbsp bottarga (optional)

How to Make It:

Cook the pasta. Put large pot of salted water over high heat. When the water comes to a rolling boil, add pasta and cook until it is just al dente. Drain and set aside.

Make the shellfish stock. Remove heads and shells from shrimp; refrigerate cleaned shrimp. Put shells and heads, fennel, celery, shallots, thyme, tarragon, and bay leaf in a deep pot. Cover with 2 quarts cold water, bring to a simmer, and cook uncovered 15 minutes. Remove from heat, strain, and set aside.

Poach the shrimp. Roughly chop shrimp into 1/4-inch chunks and season with salt. Bring reserved stock to a simmer over low heat, add shrimp, and cook for 3 minutes. Strain shrimp and set aside stock. 

Finish the dish. In a large saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add hot peppers and shrimp and saute for 2 minutes. Add 2 cups shellfish stock and pasta and cook for about a minute to heat through. Remove from heat. Add butter, lemon juice and zest, and basil, and gently toss. Serve in bowls, topped with grated bottarga