I first had spaghetti alla busara not in Venice where the dish originates but across the Adriatic in Croatia, where “buzzara style” seafood ranging from mussels to scampi to prawns is a mainstay on restaurant menus along the coast.
It’s one of the most popular ways to eat fresh seafood in the region and it also happens to be one of my favourites.
Simply put, this pasta dish doesn’t differ much from the Italian-American dish “shrimp scampi,” especially considering it is often made with actual scampi. However, the main diversion is that it also includes tomatoes in the sauce, adding yet another delightful punch of acidity.
You also won’t likely find any butter added, as it’s considered nothing short of sacrilege to pair dairy and seafood in Italian cuisine.
So if you’re after a super delicious and refreshingly simple dinner option, consider this incredible pasta – also known as gamberi alla busara in Italian.
How to Make Spaghetti Busara
From start to finish, this dish only takes about 20 minutes to make. For the most part, the sauce is also assembled as the pasta cooks.
This is why it’s important to have the (very few) ingredients prepped before you get started cooking.
We’ll start by putting a good amount of sliced garlic and some chili flakes to a cold skillet. Drizzle over a bit of olive oil and set it over medium heat.
Slowly cook the garlic until it’s sizzling and tender but not yet starting to brown. This should take about five minutes.
Then, add in a finely chopped shallot along with a generous pinch of salt. Cook this until it’s softened and translucent, about two more minutes.
While your shallot is cooking is a great time to put your pasta on. Add it to a large pot of heavily salted boiling water and cook it for a couple of minutes less than the package suggests.
When the pasta is done, don’t drain off the water completely as you will need some of it when finishing the sauce.
Now’s the time to cook your shrimp. Add your peeled, deveined shrimp (I like to leave the tails on, though) to the skillet and cook them on one side until they’re beginning to turn pink.
Flip them over and cook until they’re completely pink and fully opaque. Remove the shrimp and set them aside.
To the skillet, deglaze with a bit of dry white wine – sauvignon blanc is a great option, however, malvasia would be the most regionally authentic!
Cook the wine until it has reduced a bit and the strong alcoholic smell has cooked off – about two minutes.
Then add in some canned, whole tomatoes that you’ve drained from their juices and broken up with your hands.
Season the sauce with some salt and pepper and then mix everything to combine. Let this bubble away for another minute or two. Now, add your cooked pasta and toss to combine.
Add a bit of reserved pasta water to get the desired consistency of the sauce. Then, add in a bit of fresh parsley, season again and toss to combine.
Add your shrimp and then portion into serving bowls and dig in! That’s all that it takes to make this delicious dish.
- 4-6 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
- 1/2 teaspoon chili flakes
- 1 small shallot, finely diced
- 250g (1/2 pound) spaghetti
- 150g (5oz) shrimp, peeled, deveined and tails left on (about 8-10 medium shrimp)
- 120ml (1/2 cup) dry white wine
- 1 400g (14oz) can whole peeled tomatoes, drained from its juices and crushed with hands
- 1 tablespoon flat-leaf parsley, chopped
- Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a rolling boil. Add the garlic and chili flakes to a large skillet along with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Set over medium heat and slowly cook until the garlic is tender and fragrant but not yet starting to brown, about 5 minutes.
- Add the shallot along with a generous pinch of salt. Cook until softened and translucent, about 2 minutes.
- Meanwhile, add the pasta to the pot of boiling water. Cook for about 2 minutes less than the package suggests. Reserve at least 250ml (1 cup) of the pasta water after cooking for finishing the sauce.
- Add the shrimp in one layer to the skillet. Cook on one side until lightly pink before flipping and repeating on the other side - about 30-90 seconds per side depending on the size of your shrimp. Remove the shrimp from the pan and set aside until later.
- Deglaze the pan with the white wine, scraping up any browned bits that have accumulated on the bottom of the pan. Cook until the wine has reduced by half and the strong alcoholic smell has cooked off, about 2-3 minutes.
- Add the tomatoes, a generous pinch of salt and a good grind of pepper. Stir to combine and cook for a further minute or two. Then, add the cooked pasta and, using tongs, toss to combine and coat in the sauce. Add some pasta water, a little at a time, until the sauce reaches your desired consistency.
- Add the parsley and toss to combine. Add the cooked shrimp, along with any accumulated juices. Toss to combine and taste to adjust for seasoning. Serve immediately.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 2 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 432Total Fat: 2gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 158mgSodium: 800mgCarbohydrates: 65gFiber: 4gSugar: 20gProtein: 26g
Nutritional information is automatically generated and provided as guidance only. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
Making prawns alla busarra is super simple and it’s such a rewarding dinner. Easy enough for a weeknight and impressive enough for company, this is really the perfect dinner dish.
Are you looking for a great busara recipe? Have any questions? Let me know in the comments!