Shrimp, Spinach & Bacon Pasta

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I am so excited to share this recipe with you!! The last time I was this excited was when I shared my Skillet Sicilian Chicken. Seriously, jumping up and down excited! I’ll let you in on a little secret, there are times when my best intentions just don’t work out as I had imagined. I’m not talking about total disasters (although I’ve had a few of those too). I experiment with many recipes that fall short of my expectations for either taste, appearance, or the amount of effort/stress. My recipes go through several rounds of testing and revisions before meeting my requirements for blog-worthiness. This recipe needed nothing! It makes a beautiful presentation with bright red tomatoes, green spinach, and pink shrimp. The bacon bits, garlic, combo of parmesan and mozzarella cheeses, and the crushed red pepper’s heat ignites the taste buds with an explosion of flavors. It’s fabulous!

This is a very simple dish — only three steps! BUT, in full disclosure, it’s simple because most of your effort goes into the prep. There are quite a few ingredients, and most require advanced prep work. Trust me, it’s all worth it when you see how effortlessly this dish comes together. There are a few shortcut options that can reduce the prep time. You can opt to use canned diced tomatoes instead of fresh tomatoes. Honestly, it’s not going to noticeably change the flavor, texture, or appearance of the finished product. Garlic powder can be substituted for minced fresh garlic. You can also buy pre-minced garlic in the produce department – I’m not a fan, but that’s me and a story for another day.

Nothing compares to the flavor of fresh parmesan cheese. I keep a wedge in the freezer. Frozen parm is really easy to grate using a Microplane grater or zester. You can buy pre-grated, fresh parmesan in the refrigerated dairy section at the grocery store to save time. If it comes down to an “oops moment” (you only thought you had parmesan cheese), the dried parmesan in the can that is sprinkled on spaghetti can be used in a pinch. While it’s a reach, it will work. For the mozzarella, I buy it shredded in the bag. It requires no prep.

Bacon is the star of this recipe by adding that signature smoky bacon flavor to the entire dish. Before you start cooking, the bacon needs to be chopped. The trick to chopping raw bacon is to pop in the freezer until really firm and use a sharp knife or kitchen scissors. You can prep the bacon in advance if you are really organized! The bacon flavor shares the stage with the shrimp. The shrimp also needs a little attention before cooking. The shrimp needs to be cleaned, deveined, and tail removed. I HATE cleaning shrimp! I buy frozen shrimp that meets all the stated requirements. It does, however, need to be thawed. The best way is to thaw frozen shrimp is overnight in the fridge. It can also be thawed in cold water – read the package instructions. Make sure that the shrimp is rinsed and patted dry before use (water on the shrimp will cause spattering grease when added to the hot skillet with the bacon fat).

The sauce is a cream base. Use either heavy cream (my preference) or half & half. If all you have is milk in the fridge, don’t panic.  There’s an easy hack to turn milk into half & half or heavy cream. It’s just a matter of adding some butter. Add 1/3 cup melted butter to 2/3 cup milk to make heavy cream. Add one tablespoon melted butter to one cup of milk to make half & half. (Isn’t that a great hack!)

The last thing to be prepped is the pasta. Right before you start cooking, cook your pasta. Angel hair is the best pasta choice for this dish. However, any pasta will work. For best results, pasta should be cooked in a stock pot or pasta pot. Once it’s prepared, you can begin cooking! (Finally!) Now that everything is prepped, this dish will come together very quickly with little effort. I promise you, the results are so worth it!! For a beautiful dinner, serve with a tossed salad and some toasted garlic bread. Enjoy!

Wow, Wow, Wow! Delicious, beautiful and low stress!
Picture of all the ingredients
Fresh ingredients are always best, however, in a pinch, canned or frozen substitutions will also work.
Parmesan cheese, bowl of cheese, grater and measuring cup
Use a stainless steel grater or zester on frozen parmesan cheese for easy grating.
Cutting boards with prepped bacon, cheese, garlic, basil, and tomatoes
Mise en place: Prep ingredients (bacon, cheese, garlic, basil, and tomatoes).
bacon frying in a skillet
Cooked chopped bacon in a large skillet over medium heat, until crispy, about 8 minutes. Use a grease splatter screen for a cleaner stovetop. Remove bacon, reserving 1 tablespoon of fat
Prepare pasta as per package directions in a stock pot or pasta pot
Shrimp in skillet
Add shrimp to skillet and season with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Cook until pink, 2 minutes per side.
Three pictures: shrimp and tomatoes, added spinach, added cream and cheese
Add tomatoes, baby spinach, and garlic toss until wilted, 1 minute, then add heavy cream, mozzarella, and Parmesan and let simmer 2 minutes.
Simmering mixture
Simmer for 2 minutes
pasta and bacon added to skillet
Add angel hair pasta and bacon.
Pasta garnished with basil
Garnish with fresh basil leaves
bowl of pasta with two slices of garlic bread
Serve with freshly made garlic bread

Shrimp, Spinach & Bacon Pasta

Recipe by Jane BruceCourse: MainCuisine: AmericanDifficulty: Easy


Prep time


Cooking time



This colorful shrimp pasta dish ignites the taste buds with an explosion of flavors in a creamy sauce ranging from smoky bacon to nutty parmesan, and a touch of heat from crushed red peppers.


  • 6 slices bacon, chopped

  • 1/2 lb. medium shrimp, peeled and deveined

  • Salt – to taste

  • Ground black pepper – to taste

  • 1/2 teaspoon. crushed red pepper flakes

  • 2 cups chopped fresh tomatoes or 1 (14.5-oz.) can diced tomatoes – drained

  • 5 – 9 oz fresh baby spinach (one bag, washed and ready-to-eat))

  • 3 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 cup heavy cream or half-and-half

  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella

  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan, plus more for garnish

  • 6 oz. angel hair pasta – cooked (half box)

  • Sliced fresh basil, for garnish


  • Prep work: Cook pasta, chop bacon, chop tomatoes, grate parmesan cheese, mince garlic,
  • Cooked chopped bacon in a large skillet over medium heat, until crispy, about 8 minutes. Drain, reserving 1 tablespoon fat, and transfer to a paper towel-lined plate.
  • Add shrimp to skillet and season with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Cook until pink, 2 minutes per side. Add tomatoes, baby spinach, and garlic toss until wilted, 1 minute, then add heavy cream, mozzarella, and Parmesan and let simmer 2 minutes. Add cooked angel hair and bacon and toss until completely combined. Garnish with basil and parmesan cheese and serve


  • Tomatoes: Fresh is best, but canned diced tomatoes are fine
  • Bacon: uncooked bacon is easiest to chop when slightly frozen
  • Cream: Substitute 2/3 cup milk with 1/3 cup melted butter for heavy cream. Substitute one cup of milk and a tablespoon of butter for Half & Half.
  • Pasta: Substitute spaghetti, linguine, fettuccine, or tagliatelle (any pasta will work!)
  • Shrimp: I use frozen, deveined, and peeled shrimp. Thaw frozen shrimp in the refrigerator overnight or in cold water. Rinse well and pat dry. (Wet shrimp will cause grease spatters)
  • Parmesan Cheese: Nothing compares to the taste of freshly grated parmesan cheese (store it in the freezer), however, canned grated parmesan will work in a pinch.
  • Frozen spinach can be substituted for fresh. Thaw and squeeze out moisture.
  • Basil and garlic: Fresh is best but 1 teaspoon garlic powder can be substituted for three cloves. Dried basil can be substituted for fresh basil as the garnish – sprinkle lightly

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