Shrimp pesto pasta is one of my favorite simple weeknight dinners! Juicy, tender shrimp, fresh herb sauce, and perfectly cooked noodles all come together for a meal with plenty of flavor in not a lot of time. And I have a few tips for you on making this the best version ever!
Ready to dive into a new simple dinner recipe?
After I made green olive pesto a few weeks ago, I knew I needed to post a recipe to go with it. And, since I LOVE classic basil shrimp pesto pasta, I thought the combination with my sauce would be amazing. Spoiler warning…it was! 🙂
However, even though this recipe is great and simple to make, I do have a few tips and tricks to help you make it even better.
What do you need?
- Pasta – Any short shape will work. You will need about 12 ounces.
- Shrimp – I go for large and try to get the ones which are already peeled. (Makes life easier!)
- Spices – Smoked paprika and cayenne along with some salt.
- Pesto – My green olive and walnut version is especially good here! (Link in the recipe.)
How to make this
To make shrimp pesto pasta, toss shrimp with spices then quickly saute. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta. Drain and reserve some water. Toss the pasta with the pesto, water, and shrimp.
1. Marinate. Start with the shrimp and toss it with some spices – smoked paprika, cayenne, salt, and olive oil. Let it marinate on the counter while you prep everything else.
2. Make Pesto. If you are going with my green olive version (and you totally should!), pull out the food processor and get that together. You’ll need green olives, parsley, basil, walnut, and olive oil along with garlic and lemon juice. I’ll leave that post to tell you all details! (If you are using store bought, take it out now to warm up a little.)
3. Cook. Now get the water going and start cooking the pasta. While that’s working, saute the shrimp and set them aside.
4. Finish Up. Toss the cooked pasta with the shrimp, pesto, and water. Extra basil leaves, toasted walnuts, and chopped green olives are nice touches to give the dish more texture.
Can you eat it cold?
Absolutely! While this recipe is great warm right after it’s made, it is also makes a great cold salad, perfect for cookouts, picnics, and dinners out on the deck.
In fact, even if you are enjoying the dish warm, once you’ve put away the leftovers, you should eat it cold and not try to reheat it. Reheating will darken the basil and encourage the sauce to separate, both of which are not things you want.
Is pesto sauce healthy?
It is healthy in moderation.
Since my green olive sauce is full of olive oil, olives, and fresh herbs, it does have lots of good fats and healthy vitamins and minerals. However, it is also high in fat and calories.
If you try my recipe for Shrimp Pesto Pasta, I would love to hear from you in the comments with your experience and rating! And I’m happy to answer any questions you might have.
– Happy Eating, Annemarie
Shrimp Pesto Pasta with Walnuts
- 1 lb large shrimp, thawed, shells and tails removed
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
- 1/4 tsp cayenne
- 1-2 tbsp olive oil
- 12 oz short pasta, such as cavatappi, gemelli, or rotini
- 1 cup green olive pesto, or purchased pesto
- Toss the shrimp with the salt, paprika, cayenne, and olive oil. Set aside.
- Heat a large pot of water for the pasta. Salt it well and cook to package directions. Scoop out 1 cup of water from the pot and drain.
- Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Add the shrimp and saute, turning once or twice, until cooked through, about 3-4 minutes.
- Transfer the pasta to a serving bowl and mix with the pesto and about 1/4 cup of the water. If it still seems dry, add some more water until you are happy.
- Add the shrimp and toss.
- Optional: Add extra toasted walnuts, basil leaves, and/or chopped green olives (all ingredients in the pesto) to the dish.
- Pasta: I used cavatappi in the recipe, also known as cellentani.
- Pesto: The green olive pesto I call for has a great flavor which pairs well with the dish. You will need about half a recipe here. You may also use a store bought, though you will likely need a little less, 1/2 cup - 3/4 cup.
- Work Flow: You can make the pesto a day or two ahead, or prepare it while the shrimp is marinating.