Shrimp and Mussel Fra Diavolo

Shrimp Fra DiavoloShrimp Fra Diavolo is an Italian-American creation of shrimp tossed into a spicy sauce made from little more than tomatoes, garlic and red pepper flakes. This recipe throws in mussels too, because it seems like a crime to make a seafood dish without them. Namely, because mussels are delicious, but also because tucked into each blue-gray shell is a healthy serving of protein, B-vitamins, selenium, zinc, magnesium and manganese.

You could make this dish entirely with mussels and turn it into Mussels Fra Diavolo, if only shrimp didn’t play such a key role in transforming the tomatoes into a rich and flavorful sauce instead of just bland marinara. The trick? Browning shrimp shells then simmering them in broth creates a quick but really flavorful seafood stock. The stock can then be used as a base for any soup, bisque, chowder or sauce you make.

Serve this seafood Fra Diavolo over a mound of sautéed greens (like Swiss chard) or with cauliflower rice or celery root noodles.

Servings: 4

Time in the Kitchen: 50 minutes



  • 1 1/2 pound uncooked shrimp, shells on (680 g)
  • 1 pound mussels, cleaned and debearded (455 g)
  • 1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes (794 g)
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (60 ml)
  • 1 cup chicken stock (240 ml)
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (5 ml)
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil (20 g)


Remove the shells from the shrimp and set both the shrimp and shells aside in separate bowls (make sure the shrimp are de-veined).

Pour the can of tomatoes into a colander set over a large bowl to catch the juice. Gently stir and push on the tomatoes to release their juice. Set the tomato juice and whole tomatoes aside in separate bowls. Mash and break apart the tomatoes with your hands.

Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large (12-inch) skillet over high heat. Add the shrimp shells and cook, stirring frequently, for 3 to 4 minutes until both the shells and skillet are lightly browned. Add the chicken stock and reserved tomato juice and simmer 8 to 10 minutes.

Step 1

Step 2

Pour the contents of the skillet into a colander set over a bowl to separate the shrimp shells from the sauce. Discard the shrimp shells.

Turn the heat under the skillet down to medium. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil and the garlic and red pepper flakes. Sauté the garlic just until soft. Add the tomato sauce and the bowl of whole tomatoes back to the skillet. Increase the heat slightly and simmer about 5 minutes to thicken to sauce.

Add the shrimp and mussels. Put a lid on the skillet and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, shaking the pan a few times, until the shrimp are pink and the mussels have opened. Stir in the basil. Add salt to taste.

Step 3

Shrimp Fra Diavolo

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10 thoughts on “Shrimp and Mussel Fra Diavolo”

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  1. Lovely! I like doing this with squid … same sauce, pretty much; score the squid and then slice the squid up into pieces, flash through in a skillet and then drop into the sauce to take on some of the flavour for another couple of minutes before serving.

  2. This looks so good, I just wish my family liked mussels as much as I do! I like the idea of using squid instead tho!

  3. Do you know what the word” Fra” means? It’s short for “Fratello”, which means “brother” in Italian–we know it as Friar. This recipe was invented by a monk.

    1. Friar Devil? Think someone might have been using the name ironically…

  4. This looks great. Any opposition to using clams instead of mussels? I prefer clams to mussels, but don’t know how health benefits might differ. And would a tiny splash of white wine in the sauce do more harm than good? New to this, so just asking.

  5. I would skip the step of deshelling the shrimp and cook in the shell and eat the whole thing. I read here the shell is uber-nutritious, why throw it away?

  6. This looks soo yummy. I do not think I’ve ever actually eaten mussles, which is weird because I grew up in an area where they were always fresh. I do love shrimp though! Thanks for posting this awesome recipe.