Shrimp pesto pasta is one of my favorite simple weeknight dinners! Juicy, tender shrimp, fresh pesto, and perfectly cooked pasta 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 pesto pasta ever!
Ready to dive into a new pasta recipe?
After I made green olive pesto a few weeks ago, I knew I needed to post a pasta recipe to go with it. And, since I LOVE shrimp pesto pasta with classic pesto, I thought the combination of the shrimp with my pesto 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.
How do you make shrimp pesto pasta?
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 pasta water. Toss the pasta with the pesto, pasta water, and shrimp.
1. Start with the shrimp and toss it with some spices – smoked paprika, cayenne, salt, and olive oil. Let the shrimp marinate on the counter while you prep everything else.
2. If you are going with my green olive pesto (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 pesto, take it out now to warm up a little.)
3. Now get the water going and start cooking the pasta. While that’s working, saute the shrimp and set them aside.
4. Finish up by tossing the cooked pasta with the shrimp, pesto, and pasta water. Extra basil leaves, toasted walnuts, and chopped green olives are nice touches to give the dish more texture.
Can you eat shrimp pesto pasta cold?
Absolutely! While this recipe is great warm right after it’s made, it is also makes a great cold pasta 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 pesto to separate, both of which are not things you want.
Is pesto sauce healthy?
Pesto sauce is healthy in moderation.
Since my green olive pesto 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.
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– 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 the pasta to package directions. Scoop out 1 cup of pasta water and drain the pasta.
- Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Add the shrimp and saute, turning once or twice, until the shrimp is 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 pasta water. If the pasta still seems dry, add some more pasta 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 pasta.
- Pasta: The pasta I used in the recipe is cavatappi, also known as cellentani.
- Pesto: The green olive pesto I call for has a great flavor which pairs well with the shrimp. You will need about half a recipe of green olive pesto in this pasta. You may also use a store bought pesto, 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.