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A bowl of Lemony Pasta with Shrimp and Fried Capers.

Lemony Pasta with Shrimp and Fried Capers

This recipe for Lemony Pasta with Shrimp and Fried capers is a perfect combination of a light lemony sauce tossed with pasta and small shrimp. The fried capers add a textural element and a slight tang.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 10 mins
Total Time 20 mins
Course Fish & Seafood, Main Course, Pasta
Cuisine Italian
Servings 4 servings
Calories 519 kcal


  • For the Shrimp
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh garlic
  • ½ teaspoon or to taste red pepper flakes
  • ¾ pound small U70/90 shrimp (wild-caught preferred)
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • For the Pasta
  • 8 ounces long pasta of your choice - cooked according to package directions 1 cup pasta water reserved
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil a nice fruity one is best
  • ½ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • cup fresh lemon juice about 2 large lemons
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest about 1 large lemon, zest first, juice second
  • Coarsely ground fresh black pepper to taste (I like a lot)
  • Salt as needed
  • ⅓ to ½ cup chopped fresh basil
  • 3 tablespoons fried capers


  • Prepare the Shrimp: Small shrimp generally come shelled and deveined. Thaw if frozen. If using another size shrimp, peel and devein as needed. 
  • Heat the oil in a saute pan, add the garlic and red pepper flakes, allow to simmer over low heat to infuse the oil with flavor. Increase heat to medium and add the shrimp. Saute, stirring often, until the shrimp are just cooked through. Set-aside.
  • Prepare the Pasta and SauceSet a large pot of water to boil and add a good amount of salt. Once boiling add your pasta and cook according to package directions. Drain, reserving 1 cup of pasta water (you may not need it all, but it's nice to have if you do).
  • While your pasta is cooking, whisk together the oil, cheese, lemon juice, and zest in a large bowl. Set-aside. 
  • Fry the Capers: Rinse the capers in water then dry very well. In a small straight-sided skillet ( use my small saucepan) heat about ¼ inch of olive oil over medium-high heat. Once the oil is shimmering, add the capers (they will spit and splatter, thus the deeper pan) and stir until they have popped open and are crispy, about 1 - 2 minutes total Drain on paper towels. Set-aside.
  • Put it all together: Add the cooked pasta to the bowl with the lemony sauce and toss well. Add the shrimp along with the flavored oil, and toss. Toss in the basil, toss. Add small amounts of the extra pasta water if the pasta seems too dry. Divide between 4 heated bowls, top evenly with capers. Grind a nice grind of black pepper. Serve with additional parm cheese if desired.


Some quick and easy variations

1. Use Zucchini noodles (zoodles) in place of the pasta. 2. Toss in some fresh arugula 3. Use 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary in place of the basil. 4. If the dish seems too tart or lemony for your taste, toss with a couple of tablespoons heavy cream to mellow it out.


Serving: 1gCalories: 519kcalCarbohydrates: 41gProtein: 11gFat: 35gSaturated Fat: 6gPolyunsaturated Fat: 27gCholesterol: 13mgSodium: 512mgFiber: 3gSugar: 1g
Keyword lemony pasta, pasta, seafood pasta
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