If you are a fan of restaurant-quality dinners but in the comfort of your own home, look no further. Shrimp Pesto Pasta has got you covered! Not to mention, it's quick and easy to whip up, yet elegant enough to serve to guests. That's a big win!
This dish is super tasty and (dare I say?) a little on the luxurious side. The shrimp is succulent, savory, and bright. The pesto sauce is creamy, rich, and herby. Toss those two together with some perfectly al dente pasta and your people will be singing your praises!
As if you needed more reasons to love Shrimp Pesto Pasta, another great thing about it is that it's plenty filling, but not at all heavy. It won't leave you feeling icky, plus it's a great way to use up any extra basil you have lying (or growing!) around.
HOW TO MAKE SHRIMP PESTO PASTA
- Cook the pasta.
- Make the pesto sauce.
- Prep and pan sear the shrimp.
- Assemble and serve!
1. READY THE PASTA
For this Shrimp Pesto Pasta, you can use either spaghetti or bucatini noodles. You will only need about 8 ounces of pasta, which is about half of a standard-sized package.
Fill a large pot with water and salt generously. From there, cook your pasta to al dente according to the package directions.
Keep in mind, that there is no need to waste any time in the kitchen! As you are waiting on your pasta water to come to a boil, you should have plenty of time to slam out a perfect basil pesto sauce, and you can plan to cook your shrimp while the pasta is cooking away!
2. MAKE THE BASIL PESTO SAUCE
Basil pesto is extremely easy to make from scratch and so much better than anything you could get out of a jar! With a food processor, this herbaceous sauce comes together with just a few ingredients in less than 10 minutes.
To make homemade pesto sauce for your Shrimp Pesto Pasta, you will need the following ingredients:
- Fresh Basil | There is no substitute for fresh basil when it comes to making basil pesto! Basil has an undeniably fresh aroma with sweet hints of mint and mild peppery notes.
- Garlic Cloves | This recipe calls for three cloves of garlic, but if you like your pesto a little less "spicy," feel free to knock that down to one clove, if desired.
- Pine Nuts | This is a sweet, soft, and buttery flavored nut that is an essential ingredient in a classic basil pesto.
- Grated Parmesan Cheese | Parmesan balances out the sweetness of the basil and pine nuts with its sharp and salty flavor.
- Lemon Juice | Lemon juice isn't necessarily a traditional pesto sauce ingredient, but it will add a beautiful brightness and a welcomed acidity to your pasta sauce!
- Oil | Lastly, you will need a good, high-quality olive oil or avocado oil. Oil turns pesto from paste to sauce by helping that parmesan cheese to better blend and evenly incorporate with the other ingredients.
The basil leaves, garlic cloves, pine nuts, Parmesan, lemon juice, salt, and pepper all go into the bowl of a food processor fitted with a blade attachment. Process the ingredients together until the mixture appears finely minced and well-mixed.
Then, you'll begin drizzling in the oil through the feed tube, processing all the while.
Note that basil pesto sauce can be prepared in advance! If you'd like to make it ahead for your Shrimp Pesto Pasta, prepare the pesto sauce, and refrigerate it for up to four days or freeze it for up to two months!
3. COOK THE SHRIMP
Next, it's onto the shrimp. This Shrimp Pesto Pasta recipe calls for jumbo shrimp, which have a shrimp count of 16/25. The shrimp count indicates how many individual shrimps you'll get in a single pound.
The shrimp should also be peeled and deveined, but as for the tails, you can leave them on or off. It is up to you! Leaving the tails on makes for a prettier display, but requires a little more knife work at the dinner table. Check out our post all about How to Peel Shrimp for more information.
The first thing you'll want to do is pat away the excess moisture from the exterior of each shrimp.
This can be easily done by laying down a double layer of paper towels, placing the shrimp on top, adding another layer of paper towels over the shrimp, and gently pressing down.
Then, transfer the shrimp to a small mixing bowl, drizzle with oil, and sprinkle with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and Italian seasoning. Grate the zest of half a lemon over the shrimp and toss until they are evenly coated with the seasoning and oil.
Next, place a large skillet over medium-high heat and drizzle in some oil. Allow the oil to come to temperature, then lay the shrimp down in the pan in a single layer. Allow the shrimp to cook for about two minutes per side.
Your shrimp is fully cooked through when it is entirely opaque and semi-firm to the touch.
4. HOW TO SERVE SHRIMP PESTO PASTA
Once your shrimp are cooked, your pasta is ready, and the basil pesto has been prepared, it's time to bring it all together!
Toss the pesto and the pasta together until the pasta is evenly coated in the sauce. At this point, you can add in the shrimp and toss once more, or plate the pasta and place the shrimp on top.
Serve with lemon wedges, shaved Parmesan, and a crusty slice of garlic bread on the side, if desired.
6 MORE PASTA RECIPES YOU’LL LOVE
- Chicken Parmesan Pasta
- Salmon Pasta
- Homemade Lasagna
- Cajun Shrimp Pasta
- Steak Pasta
- Shrimp and Pasta with Fresh Tomatoes and Capers
Shrimp Pesto Pasta is a perfect balance of creamy, herby, and bright. Not too heavy, but perfectly satisfying.
- 8 ounces (about ½ package) spaghetti or bucatini noodles
- 2 cups basil leaves
- 3 garlic cloves
- ¾ cup pine nuts
- ⅓ cup Parmesan cheese
- ¼ cup fresh-squeezed lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon Kosher salt
- Generous ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ cup avocado oil or high-quality olive oil
- 1 pound jumbo shrimp (16/25 count), peeled and deveined
- 3 tablespoons olive or avocado oil, separated
- ½ teaspoon Kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon Italian seasoning
- Zest of half a lemon
Bring a large pot of water to a roaring boil and cook pasta according to package directions. While waiting on the water to boil and the pasta to finish cooking, make the pesto and shrimp as follows.
Add the basil, garlic, pine nuts, Parmesan, lemon juice, salt, and pepper to the bowl of a food processor fitted with a blade attachment. Process until all of the ingredients are finely minced and a paste-like mixture forms.
With the food processor on, very slowly drizzle in the oil through the feed tube. Toss with warm pasta (if desired) and enjoy!
Pat the excess moisture away from the shrimp using a paper towel. Add the shrimp to a medium-sized mixing bowl, drizzle with 1 tablespoon of oil, add spices and lemon zest, and toss until evenly coated. Set aside.
Add 2 tablespoons of oil to a large sauté pan over medium-high heat and allow it to come to temperature. Then, add one single layer of shrimp, leaving a bit of space in between each one.
Cook for about 2 minutes, then flip and cook for about 2 minutes more on the other side. Repeat the cooking process with any remaining shrimp. The shrimp are ready when completely opaque and semi-firm to the touch.
Toss the pasta and pesto together until the pasta is well-coated. Add the shrimp and gently toss once more. Serve and enjoy!