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Shrimp pesto pasta is a delicious and fresh-tasting pasta recipe made with sauteed garlicky shrimp. It’s an incredibly simple dish to pull together but it tastes absolutely amazing thanks to freshly made homemade basil pesto.
Trust me when I tell you that your pesto pasta dinner is only going to turn out as good as your pesto. If you use store-bought or jarred pesto that’s been sitting on the shelves for months, this recipe is only going to disappoint you. Fresh homemade pesto will transform this dish into an authentic-feeling Italian dinner that’s exploding with flavor and color.
Tips for Making Homemade Basil Pesto
Homemade pesto is really easy to make and is so much better than store-bought. My basil pesto consists of fresh basil, olive oil, Parmesan cheese, pine nuts, garlic, salt, and pepper. Everything is blended together to render a smooth, yet slightly granular sauce. It only takes about 10 minutes to make so let’s dive in.
- Pesto is best made in a food processor, however, I’ve been making it in a single-serve smoothie blender for a long time. The key is to pulse the blender so as to not overblend the pesto and turn it into slime. Shake the contents to help mix as needed.
- Pesto should be thick and slightly granular in appearance. If it’s too thick, add more olive oil to help thin it out a bit. Pesto can be adjusted in a bowl by simply stirring in extra olive oil.
- Always use extra virgin olive oil and FRESH ingredients. Do not substitute canola or vegetable oil.
- Do not use dried basil! Always use fresh basil leaves.
- If your pesto is too thin or runny and you’ve run out of fresh basil, you can add some baby spinach. You can also stir in a little cornstarch. This will help to thicken the sauce without adding any flavor. I would merely consider this a last resort but it works in a pinch.
- Add salt and pepper to taste. Adjust pesto with additional salt afterward. The salt helps to bring out the flavor and really makes pesto pop.
- Fresh garlic is best, but you can substitute garlic powder.
- Walnuts can be substituted for pine nuts. I prefer pine nuts, but walnuts work in a pinch. You can usually find pine nuts in the baking aisle with the other nuts.
How to Make Pesto Shrimp Pasta
This recipe process is not that far off from making shrimp scampi. Fully cook shrimp in a large saucepan with garlic, red pepper flakes, and olive oil, add cooked pasta of your choice, and stir in 3/4 to 1 cup of pesto. You may need to add a little extra olive oil if the pesto is too thick or doesn’t spread easily through the pasta.
It’s important to time everything accordingly so the pasta is done when the shrimp is done. I bring my water to a boil while I’m prepping everything else. Adding warm pasta to the skillet with the shrimp keeps the entire dish nice and hot and will also help with incorporating the pesto!
The result is a delicious seafood pasta recipe smothered in pesto and packed with tremendous fresh flavor. Super simple, very Italian, and guaranteed to not disappoint anyone. My only rule? Use plenty of pesto.
More Pesto Recipes You’ll LovePrint
Easy pesto shrimp pasta made with fresh homemade basil pesto and shrimp sauteed in garlic and olive oil.
- 8 ounces spaghetti or linguine
- 1/2 pound large shrimp, peeled, deveined, and tails removed
- ¾ – 1 cup basil pesto
- ½ lemon, squeezed
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
- 1/2 teaspoon, crushed red pepper flakes
- Grated parmesan cheese, to taste
- Extra olive oil (if pesto is too thick)
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 3 loosely packed cups of basil leaves, about 2.5 ounces
- 3 tablespoons pine nuts
- 2 garlic cloves
- 2/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 2/3 cup olive oil
- salt and pepper, to taste
For the pesto
- Combine all pesto ingredients except for the olive oil in a food processor or blender. Blend/pulse until mixed and smooth. See note below if you don’t have a food processor.
- With the motor running, add olive oil in a slow stream until combined. Pesto should not be too soupy or fine. Set aside. Can be made a day in advance and stored in the fridge in a tightly sealed container. Cover with plastic wrap seated directly on top of the surface to prevent browning/air exposure.
For the shrimp pasta
- Remove tails from the shrimp by pulling the tail off the base of the shrimp. Set aside.
- Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil. Cook spaghetti al dente, strain, and set aside.
- Meanwhile, heat oil over medium heat in a large pan or skillet. Add garlic, red pepper flakes, shrimp, and freshly squeezed lemon juice. Season shrimp all over with salt and pepper. Cook until shrimp is no longer translucent and fully cooked through, about 2 minutes per side.
- Once the shrimp are fully cooked, add the pasta to the saucepan and toss to mix in the juices. Stir in 3/4 – 1 cup of pesto until pasta is greenish and fully coated. Add more pesto as needed to cover. You may need to drizzle the pasta with extra olive oil to help spread the pesto. Serve immediately topped with freshly grated parmesan cheese if desired.
If pesto is too thick, add a ¼ cup of olive oil so it spreads more easily through the pasta.
If you don’t have a food processor, you can use a standard blender or single-serve blender instead. Just don’t blend the ingredients too aggressively or it will turn into a creamy paste. If using a single-serve blender, combine all ingredients together and pulse until smooth. Shaking the containing in between blends will help to mix the ingredients if they get “stuck.”
- Serving Size: 1
- Calories: 503
- Sugar: 4.3g
- Sodium: 545mg
- Fat: 27.8g
- Saturated Fat: 5.3g
- Carbohydrates: 48g
- Fiber: 1.3g
- Protein: 28.9g
- Cholesterol: 178mg
Keywords: pesto pasta, pesto shrimp pasta