This spinach pesto pasta with shrimp includes perfectly cooked shrimp that is coated in delicious spinach pesto and tossed with bright cherry tomatoes.
This simple pasta dish doesn't require a lot of ingredients and comes together quickly.
Spinach pesto is one of my favorite sauces. Pair it with some pasta, shrimp, and veggies and you have a deliciously easy dinner.
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Why You Will Love This Recipe
- Shrimp is the perfect protein for a quick weeknight dinner. It is perfectly cooked in just six minutes which makes it great for a quick meal.
- Have some extra vegetables languishing in the refrigerator? Toss them in with the tomatoes.
- This simple meal tastes like you spent hours cooking.
Pasta: I chose rotini pasta for this dish. But you could easily use another short pasta like penne or bowtie. You could also substitute spaghetti noodles. Use whatever happens to be in your pantry.
Olive Oil: I recommend using extra virgin olive oil because of its milder flavor. Save the regular olive oil for dishes that are cooked.
Parmesan Cheese: If you don't have Parmesan you could substitute another hard dry cheese like Romano. If you can buy block cheese and grate it yourself. The flavor will be fresher. Avoid the powdered parmesan cheese that comes in a green can.
Garlic: I prefer fresh garlic especially because it can go into the blender whole and I don't have to chop it but you could also use jarred minced garlic.
Nuts: Traditionally pesto is made with pine nuts. But they can be expensive and are not something I keep in my pantry. Pretty much any nut will work, use whatever you have in your pantry. You make this pesto with walnuts, pecans, peanuts, or my favorite cashews. If you have a nut allergy try substituting sunflower seeds for the nuts.
Lemon Juice and Zest: Lemon juice's acid helps to brighten the pesto's flavor. You could also try substituting three tablespoons of balsamic or apple cider vinegar.
Spinach: Fresh spinach works best. I wouldn't recommend using frozen spinach. To change the pesto's flavor try adding other leafy greens like fresh herbs, tender kale, or arugula.
Shrimp: I hate peeling shrimp so I typically use jumbo shrimp so there is few shrimp to peel in a pound of shrimp.
Seasoning: Garlic powder, onion powder, and red pepper flakes are used to season the shrimp.
Cherry Tomatoes: Don't have cherry tomatoes? You could also substitute grape tomatoes or chopped Roma tomatoes.
Salad Spinner: Salad spinners make quick work of washing a drying a variety of leafy vegetables and herbs.
Rubber spatula: For folding batters together and scraping the sides of bowls, I prefer a stiffer spatula like this one from OXO. It fits comfortably in my hand, is dishwasher safe, and is heat-resistant up to 600 degrees Fahrenheit. Both the handle and head are silicone coated which makes it easy to clean and safe to use with my non-stick cookware and bakeware.
In a small bowl, toss shrimp with 1 tablespoon olive oil, garlic powder, onion powder, baking soda, salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes. Set aside.
Rinse the spinach really well under cold water. Pat dry or use a salad spinner to spin the spinach dry.
Add the oil, Parmesan cheese, garlic, nuts, lemon juice, lemon zest, kosher salt, and pepper to a food processor or blender, puree until a paste is formed. Scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula if necessary.
Add the spinach and blend for as short a time as possible to maintain its color.
Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Set aside.
Cook pasta in a large pot of salted water according to the package directions until it is al dente.
Heat butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet. Add the cherry tomatoes. Saute, stirring constantly, until they soften.
Add the shrimp and cook for 2-3 minutes per side until the shrimp turn an opaque pinkish-orange color.
Add the cooked drained pasta and the fresh pesto sauce to the sauteed shrimp and vegetables. Toss to combine.
Serve topped with additional shredded parmesan.
Serve this pesto shrimp pasta recipe with a great piece of crusty bread to soak up all of the delicious pesto sauce. I also like to include a fresh green salad and a glass of white wine.
Refrigerate in an airtight container for 3 to 4 days. I don't typically freeze cooked pasta dishes because the pasta tends to get mushy.
Reheat: Reheat shrimp pesto pasta in a skillet over low-medium heat adding a splash of water to loosen the sauce.
Frequently Asked Questions
Depending on where you live frozen shrimp is cheaper and even fresher than fresh shrimp. Here are two ways to thaw frozen shrimp depending upon how much time you have.
If you have 24 hours: Place the frozen shrimp in the refrigerator overnight.
If you have less than 30 minutes: Place the frozen shrimp into a large bowl with very cold water. The shrimp should be completely thawed in about 15 minutes.
The salt in the brine ensures the shrimp stays juicy as they cook. The alkaline baking soda increases the pH of the shrimp giving them a firm crisp texture. Just a short 15 minutes in a salt and baking soda brine ensures your shrimp will be juicy and succulent.
Yes, but fresh lemon is ideal because you can use some of the zest as well.
If you mean the powdered Parmesan found in those green shakers on a pantry shelf, no. Your pesto won't taste as good plus there are a bunch of additives in powdered Parmesan.
If you mean the tubs of freshly grated Parmesan cheese in the refrigerated section of the grocery store yes.
- Toasting the nuts before adding them to the homemade pesto brings out their nutty flavor but isn't necessary.
- Add more or less olive oil based on your personal texture preference. If you prefer a more paste-like consistency add less olive oil. If you prefer a looser more sauce like pesto add olive oil.
- Pesto freezes really well. Pour any unused pesto into an ice cube tray and freeze. Once the pesto has frozen place the pesto cube in a zip-top bag labeled with the date and contents. Pesto can be frozen for up to three months. I really like these silicon ice cube trays. They are flexible which makes removing the cubes easier.
- Be careful to not overcook the pasta otherwise you will end up with a mushy mess.
- Don't like shrimp? Substitute scallops or chicken. For a vegetarian option try using mushrooms.
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Thanks for Reading!
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