Shrimp & Asparagus Pasta with Vodka Sauce

Last Monday, I stepped into the adult world and started working my first full time job. The past one and a half years after graduating from college has been a gradual sequence of events that started with applying to grad school, followed by unsuccessfully getting into grad school. This then led to stress from deciding to change my career path, which unfortunately ended up with me in a carefree lull of no motivation. This lull, which I gladly took as an extended vacation, lasted a bit too long to the point where I was almost too comfortable and satisfied with only working a couple days a week while having a ridiculous amount of free time. Of course it was awesome, but it was time to get my life together and take a step towards building my future career.

This shortcut recipe post was inspired by the fact that I am now learning to appreciate my free time as I selectively spend it on important things (like The Culinary Four, of course). Okay, Gina’s Journal Time is over, let’s get cooking!

Everyone uses jarred pasta sauce because it’s fast and convenient. However, it’s a good starting base at best. In my experience with jarred pasta sauces, I found that almost all of them lack a depth of flavor or are always too “something”. Too sour, too bland…it’s your job to make things right! Please don’t be that person who just pours sauce onto pasta and calls it a day. If you want to use prepared food, the secret is balancing it out with fresh ingredients. Using my favorite jarred sauce, this easy recipe is my go-to pasta dish.

You will need:

  • 1 box penne pasta
  • 1 jar of World Market Vodka Pasta Sauce
  • 0.75 pound of raw shrimp
  • 3 cups of raw asparagus (cut into two inch pieces)
  • 1.5 cups diced raw yellow onion
  • 4 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon white sugar
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • Olive oil as needed for sauté


1. Boil the pasta to al dente, according to the instructions on the box/bag. Strain and put aside.

2. To a pan on high heat, add some olive oil, followed by the onions and a pinch of salt. Continuously stir the onions to get an even brown color. After about 5 minutes, turn the heat to medium and let the onions cook until they are translucent and brown (about 5-7 more minutes). The onions should be in a stage between being sautéed and caramelized. Set the onions aside. All cooked ingredients will eventually come together!

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3. To the same pan, add more olive oil and sauté the asparagus with 1 tablespoon of garlic powder until tender, firm (not crunchy) and slightly brown on some of the sides. Set the asparagus aside when done.

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4. If you are not a fan of doing dishes, use the same pan to cook the shrimp as well. Season the shrimp with 1 tablespoon of garlic powder and a pinch of salt. With the heat on medium-high, add olive oil and pan sear the shrimp until they are opaque, but not fully cooked to the point where they shrink in size. This should only take about a couple minutes on each side. Be sure not to overcook the shrimp because they will be mixed with everything over heat. Set the shrimp aside.

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5. In a medium-sized pot on high heat, add a thin layer of olive oil (enough to cover the bottom), the pasta, and the rest of the garlic powder. Sauté the pasta for one minute. Bring the dish together by adding the sauce, shrimp, asparagus, onions, fish sauce, oregano, red pepper flakes, and sugar. Stir well to completely mix all the ingredients. Remember to taste! Add more seasonings to your liking.

Happy cooking!

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Processed with VSCOcam with a6 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with a6 preset

P.S. This is Bonnie and Clyde (my dogs) and they are always hungry.

– Gina

*Check out more TCF stuff by following us on Instagram at @theculinaryfour!




2 responses to “Shrimp & Asparagus Pasta with Vodka Sauce

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