Shrimp with Spicy Garlic and Tomato Sauce

  • Serves

    serves 6


(Gamberoni con Salsa Vigliacca)

Vigliacca can mean scoundrel which in the case of a sauce means that it's spiced with chile peppers. This concoction has been served at Trattoria Garga since their 1979 opening.The owners like it atop everything from pasta to meat loaf.


  • 12 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 tbsp. minced garlic (2 large cloves)
  • 3 ripe medium plum tomatoes, cored and quartered
  • 3-4 Italian whole dried red chiles, crushed or 1/4-1/2 tsp. dried red pepper flakes
  • Kosher salt
  • 30 large fresh or thawed frozen heads-on shrimp (about 1 1/2 lbs.), peeled, head and tail shells intact
  • 2 tbsp. cognac
  • 2 tbsp. coarsely chopped Italian parsley
  • Cooked pasta or white rice to serve


Step 1

Heat 4 tbsp. of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, until golden, about 30 seconds. Add tomatoes and chiles, season to taste with salt, and cook, crushing pieces of tomato with the back of the spoon and stirring occasionally, until sauce thickens, 8-10 minutes. Set sauce aside.

Step 2

Heat 2 tbsp. of the oil in another large skillet over high heat. Add half the shrimp in a single layer and cook, turning once, until cooked halfway through, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer shrimp to a plate and set aside. Repeat process with the remaining 2 tbsp. oil and shrimp.

Step 3

Return same skillet to medium-high heat. Carefully add cognac to skillet and cook, gently shaking skillet over heat, until alcohol evaporates, about 30 seconds. Add the reserved tomato sauce and shrimp and cook, stirring occasionally, until shrimp are completely cooked through, 3-4 minutes.

Step 4

Sprinkle with fresh parsley and serve immediately atop cooked pasta or with steamed white rice on the side.

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