Food Snob Chronicles — Shrimp & Pasta w/ Fresh Tomato Basil Cream

Aside from citrus, tomatoes are my favorite fruit to grow. And, despite that I’ve propagated dozens of varieties over the years, I’ve neither popped a cherry tomato into my mouth, nor have I indulged with a fresh slice of this nightshade family member. Strange, I know. (Hey, I warned you about people like me!)

Because of construction around Casa de Holland, I’m growing a couple of new (for me) varieties in pots. First, I’m giving a go at the most popular tomato variety along the I-95 corridor — the ‘Jersey’ tomato. Except that there’s really no such variety as the ‘Jersey.’ Avid gardeners and commercial producers know it as the ‘Rutgers’ or ‘Rutgers Hybrid,’ developed in the early 20th century at Rutgers University. Many people will insist that the ‘Jersey’ is a beefsteak variety, but it’s actually an all-purpose tomato bred originally for processing and fresh market. Still, a ‘Jersey’ tomato by any other name… This variety is particularly popular along the East Coast because it flourishes in the shorter growing season. We’ll see how it performs in hot Texas summers.

Did you know?  Next time someone corrects you about the tomato’s status as a fruit, be sure to let them know that — botanically — it is (a berry, in fact). But not according to the U.S. Supreme Court or New Jersey legislators. The high court decided in 1893 to classify the tomato as a vegetable for the purpose of collecting tariffs on imports. And Garden State lawmakers just a few years ago designated the ‘Jersey’ tomato as the official state vegetable.

Meanwhile in the garden, the ‘A Grappoli D’Inverno’ (Italian ‘winter’ grape tomato) is putting out clusters right and left. This old Italian heirloom variety is akin to the ‘Roma,’ except the fruit are about one-third the size. This little gem gets its name for the fruit’s ability to stay good into the winter months. They’re excellent for snacking, drying and even fresh salsa. I tried them as the main ingredient in a fresh velvety sauce that I’ve made a time (or 12) with other tomato varieties and — delizioso! No worries if you aren’t growing this variety. Really, any tomato works with this recipe — particularly cherry or grape varieties because of their inherent sweetness.

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Shrimp & Pasta w/ Fresh Tomato Basil Cream

Shrimp & Pasta w/ Fresh Tomato Basil Cream — Succulent. Velvety. Fresh. Delicious. Quick.

Shrimp & Pasta w/ Fresh Tomato Basil Cream — Succulent. Velvety. Fresh. Delicious. Quick.

5.0 from 1 reviews
Shrimp & Pasta w/ Fresh Tomato Basil Cream
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: American
Serves: 4
  • ½ lb - Pasta, cooked al dente
  • ¾ lb - Jumbo (21-25 ct.) shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 3 cups - Chopped fresh tomatoes
  • 1 cup - Artichoke hearts (canned)
  • ⅓ cup - Heavy cream
  • 2 cloves - Garlic, minced
  • 2 TB - Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 TB - Kosher salt
  • 4-5 - Fresh Basil leaves, torn
  • 2 tsp - Freshly ground black pepper
  • Feta or Parmesan (for garnish)
  1. In a large skillet, warm olive oil to medium high and add garlic.
  2. Cook until fragrant, about 30-45 seconds, then add tomatoes.
  3. Cook garlic and tomatoes, mashing occasionally, for about 2-3 minutes.
  4. Add shrimp; cook until pink on all sides, about 4-5 minutes.
  5. Add artichoke hearts, cream, salt, basil, pepper and cooked pasta; Cook until warmed through, about 2-3 minutes, stirring regularly to combine ingredients.
  6. Top with Feta (pictured) or Parmesan and more basil, if desired.




  1. Mmm this looks heavenly! I love tomato cream sauce because I absolutely love tomatoes. Fresh out of the garden, roasted, baked, sautéed…whatever way, I love ’em. I love how simple but flavorful this recipe is…good tomatoes, fresh basil, and some garlic can go a long way 🙂 Also so neat to know that tomatoes are a type of berry. I knew they were fruit, but berries? So cool!!

    • adamjholland says:

      Thank you Beeta. You’re right. Ingredients that are simple and few often make for wonderful eating.

  2. Look tantalizing! Tomato Cream Sauce is one of my favorites and of course the addition of shrimp only makes the dish more appetizing. I was just doing to research on Olives as a berry – didn’t know that tomatoes were as well – good to know!

    • adamjholland says:

      Thank you, Kelli. Olives do have traits similar to berries, but botanically they are considered to be drupes. You should consider growing an olive tree. I grew the Arbequina variety here in east Texas. Easy peasy. And delicious.

  3. Ohhhhh I can’t WAIT to make this once I have working stove burners!!!

  4. Do I understand correctly that you haven’t eaten any of the tomatoes you’ve grown fresh and raw? That’s just wacky and strangely admirable. GREG

    • adamjholland says:

      True that, Greg. “My grandmother once even told me ‘You ain’t a real Holland I’d you won’t eat a mater from the vine.'” Can you say family outcast?

  5. I think you made this recipe just for me! Shrimp, artichoke hearts, cream and garlic! you make me swoon!

    • adamjholland says:

      In fact I did, Abbe. And I’m somewhat disappointed that you didn’t show up for dinner. Lucky for you, the tomatoes are producing like crazy, and you’ll have a chance to redeem yourself. Shalom, my friend. 😉

  6. So many tomato varieties and so little space. They’re all delicious in my book. And you’ve never eaten a fresh tomato? Not even a slice on the best sandwich in the world? BLT??????? Adam!!!!!

  7. Guys are funny about tomatoes. My husband loves anything in a tomato based sauce but put one little tomato slice on his plate…
    I didn’t know that the Supreme Court got involved in tomatoes. I remember something about congress designating ketchup as a vegetable so they could get away with saying they put a vegetable on the school lunch menu.
    Now that is a very fine looking shrimp dish and I’ve put the shrimp on the grocery list – thank you!

    • adamjholland says:

      I think it’s just me and your husband, Diane. In fact, we might be the only two people in the free world who feel the way we do about tomatoes. Take it easy on us. We might be tough on the outside, but we’re a sensitive people. 😉

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