Evolution of Olivia’s Pasta

My kids are weird, not a terrible surprise their parents are weird too. What I’m referring to in this case is that they eat everything…really.

Several years ago we went to Disney World and stayed at Old Key West Resort, although I can’t remember their exact ages they were young, instead of ordering from the kids’ menu we allowed them to pick an entrée and split it. One evening we dined at Olivia’s which is the resort restaurant and the boys selected Penne Pasta with Asiago Cheese with shrimp. They insisted that we try it and they indeed had selected well, it was delicious. It was one of the first meals that I decided I could recreate at home. The menus were paper, I made a few notes, folded it up and brought it home where it earned a space in my cookbooks.

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I made it, it tasted exactly the same and was an immediate hit. But our tastes have changed over the years and the last time I made it, well over a year ago, it seemed bland and it fell off of the radar. On Sunday, I was doing my weekly planning and my older son mentioned that it had been a really long time since I had made Olivia’s Pasta. I consented and opened the recipe:


Today I implemented my plan, I would make it, but it wouldn’t be the same, it would be better, and with a bit of warmth. I removed the tails from my shrimp and set them in the strainer to dry. I went outside and clipped some fresh parsley and basil, then pressed 5 enormous cloves of garlic into a cold skillet. I poured some of the olive oil from my sun-dried tomatoes into the skillet and drained the rest of the oil.

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While the water for the penne came to a boil, I chopped my ingredients and seasoned the shrimp with salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes. Just as I threw in the pasta, I heated up the garlic and oil while stirring to make sure it didn’t burn, as soon as it was fragrant I threw in the shrimp. Once it was about ½-cooked, I added the sun-dried tomatoes and most of the fresh herbs and continued cooking until the shrimp was close to done. I tossed the spinach on top and covered the skillet for about a minute to start the wilting. I then stirred in the spinach. At that point the pasta was just finished and I poured it into the bowl and topped it with shrimp mixture and the remainder of the fresh herbs.


I stirred it all together with the asiago and served it with my favorite Italian white, Fazi Battaglia Verdiccio. IMG_2505IMG_2507

The boys still think it’s perfect.

The revised recipe is as follows:

Olivia’s Pasta
prep 15-20 minutes ∙ cook 10 minutes ∙ difficulty Easy ∙ source Shannon Stacey

  • 4-6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 pounds shrimp, peeled & deveined
  • salt
  • pepper
  • crushed red pepper flakes, to taste
  • 1 pound penne pasta
  • 5 ounces baby spinach, fresh
  • 1 jar sun-dried tomatoes, drained and julienned, reserve oil
  • 1 Tbsp. basil, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. parsley, chopped
  • 1½ cups asiago cheese, freshly grated, divided
  • Parmesan cheese, freshly grated


1. Cook pasta according to package directions.

While cooking pasta…
2. Season shrimp with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes to taste.
3. Heat 2-3T. of olive oil from tomatoes with minced garlic and sauté until fragrant, add shrimp and continue to sauté until turning pink (will not be completely cooked at this point.
4. Add sun-dried tomatoes and most of the basil and parsley, continue to sauté until shrimp is just cooked.
5. Add spinach, cover for about 1 minutes and then stir until it just begins to wilt.
6. In a large bowl combine pasta, shrimp mixture, and asiago cheese.
7. Serve with Parmesean.


If using dried herbs instead of fresh, add in with the shrimp.


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