Whole-Grain Farfalle with Spicy Shrimp and Roasted Peppers

Confession. Our go-to supermarket had varying types of whole grain pasta, but not the farfalle. BUT, they did carry Barilla “Protein +” which is a 100% plant-based protein containing among other flours, lentil, chick pea, barley and pea protein. AND, it contains 5 grams of fiber! Seemed like a good substitution to us…

Here, the rustic whole-grain (or plant protein) pasta is enhanced with the mild sweetness of roasted peppers and shrimp, and the kick of a spicy garlic marinade. You can use jarred roasted peppers, if you like, but roasting your own will make the pasta tastier, especially if you make them a day ahead—which will save you a chunk of time.

IMG_3883I make mine right on top of a gas burner, making sure to char all over, including the tops and bottoms. Seal them in a plastic bag for 15-20 minutes which will help in removing the burnt skin. Keep in mind, if you have to char your own peppers, it will add to the total time. You can always do this a day ahead.

Our gas oven broiler is sub par (that’s about the only advantage credited to an electric stove). So instead of arranging the marinated shrimp on a greased rimmed baking sheet, we did NOT pat the shrimp dry. Instead, on a gas burner, we heated a large cast iron skillet until smoking hot (with no additional oil), and arranged the shrimp in one layer for about 90 seconds. Then with a wooden spatula, we stir-fried them another minute and a half until just done, scraping them into a bowl covered with tinfoil until ready to use.


Now about those Fresno chilis. As luck would have it, the grocery store was not carrying them the day we shopped. A good substitute? The Fresno pepper looks and tastes almost like the world’s most popular chili pepper, the jalapeño, but it can be slightly hotter. At its hottest, it reaches the heat level of a mild serrano pepper, which can be somewhat spicy for some. So we bought serrano chilis!

And, because it’s the way we roll, we added 1 teaspoon of smoked paprika—which is typically not a hot spice—in actuality, the spice itself is quite mild and sweet. Smoked paprika is a Spanish cousin to the more widely used sweet Hungarian paprika. It’s made from pimiento peppers that have been dried and smoked over an oak fire, then ground into a fine powder. You’ll sometimes see it called pimenton, smoked pimenton, sweet paprika, Spanish paprika, or any variation of those names, but you can always recognize this spice by its deep red color and powerful smoky aroma. 


Whole-Grain Farfalle with Spicy Shrimp and Roasted Peppers

  • Servings: 4-5
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 5 medium cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 2 Fresno or other small fresh red chiles, cut into a few pieces (remove seeds and ribs for less heat)
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil; more as needed
  • 2 tsp. crumbled dried oregano
  • 2 tsp. Aleppo pepper or 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes; more to taste
  • 3/4 tsp. ground cumin
  • Fine sea salt
  • 3 rred bell peppers or a mixture of red, yellow or orange, roasted, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
  • 1 lb. extra-large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 12 oz. whole-grain farfalle
  • 4 oz. (1 cup) crumbled mild feta, preferably sheep’s milk
  • 1/2 cup lightly packed chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • Finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano for garnish


  1. In a food processor, pulse the garlic and chiles until finely chopped. Transfer to a medium bowl, and add the oil, oregano, Aleppo, cumin, and 1/2 tsp. salt; stir well with a fork to combine.
  2. Transfer half of the mixture to another medium bowl stir in the roasted peppers, smoked paprika and vinegar.
  3. Add the shrimp  to taste to the remaining marinade, gently toss to coat, and set aside to marinate for 15 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, position a rack 4 inches from the broiler element, and heat the broiler on high. Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil, and cook the pasta according to package directions until al dente.
  5. While the pasta cooks, heat a cast-iron skillet (without any extra oil) until smoking hot. Place the marinated shrimp into the hot pan, flipping once, until opaque throughout, 3 minutes total. Move into a separate bowl covered with tinfoil until ready to use.
  6. Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water. Drain the pasta and transfer to a large heated serving bowl.
  7. Add the peppers with the marinade, feta, parsley, and 1/4 cup of the pasta water. Gently toss with a large serving spoon for 1 minute to warm the feta, adding a bit more pasta water as needed to loosen the sauce. Season to taste with salt.
  8. Place pasta into a large shallow heated serving bowl. Sprinkle generously with the Parmigiano, and place shrimp on top. Serve, passing more cheese at the table.


Adapted from a recipe by Maria Speck from Fine Cooking

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