Grilled Pesto Shrimp is such a fun & simple summer dinner. It’s really simple – made with 5 ingredients & comes together in 30 minutes or less – but you’d never guess it based on the amount of fresh flavor it has. The perfect weeknight dish!
The secret to creating a satisfying meal with a limited number of ingredients is using the most flavorful options you can find & layering them throughout the meal in a couple of different ways. Here, we use fresh basil pesto as both a marinade for the shrimp & a dressing for a Caprese-inspired couscous salad. If you have a ton of end of summer basil on hand, feel free to make homemade pesto (this recipe & this recipe are my go-tos!) but store-bought works great too (see Recipe Notes for some more guidance).
As far as serving goes, this is an all-in-one meal, but we have some more serving suggestions detailed in the blog post above if you’re looking for inspiration.
- 1 pound colossal shrimp (U/13-15), peeled & deveined
- 12 ounces cherry tomatoes
- 1/2 cup fresh pesto, divided (see Recipe Notes)
- optional: 1 lemon, juiced & divided (see Recipe Notes)
- 3/4 cup dry couscous, cooked according to package directions
- 6 ounces fresh mozzarella pearls
- kosher salt & ground black pepper, to season
- 8–12 stainless steel or bamboo skewers (soaked in water at least 20 minutes prior to assembly)
- Prep: Prepare the grill for medium-high direct heat grilling, about 450-500 degrees F. Once preheated, clean the cooking surface by firmly brushing a wire brush over the grates. (If you do not have access to an outdoor grill, you can also preheat a grill pan over medium-high heat.) Meanwhile, as the grill preheats, prep the shrimp skewers & couscous.
- Prep the pesto shrimp skewers: Meanwhile as the grill preheats, prepare the shrimp skewers. Place the shrimp & tomatoes in a large bowl with 1/4 cup of the pesto & the juice of 1/2 a lemon (if using). Season with 1 teaspoon kosher salt & ground black pepper as desired. Toss to coat well. Alternating between the two, thread the pesto shrimp & tomatoes on skewers. It is helpful to skewer each piece of shrimp in two places, once near the head & once near the tail (pictured). Place assembled skewers on a large plate or baking sheet & set aside.
- Prep the couscous Caprese: Meanwhile, as the grill preheats, prepare the Caprese-inspired couscous. Cook the couscous according to package directions – I like to place the couscous in a heat-safe bowl, pour water over top, cover with a plate, & let steam for 5 minutes. Once steamed, add the remaining 1/4 cup pesto, juice of 1/2 a lemon (if using), & fresh mozzarella pearls to the bowl. Use a fork to fluff the couscous, mixing the pesto & mozzarella throughout. Taste & season with kosher salt & ground black pepper as needed. Set aside for serving.
- Grill the pesto shrimp skewers: Transfer the shrimp skewers to the grill. Grill over direct heat for 2-3 minutes per side, just until the tomatoes begin to burst & the shrimp is pink in hue & no longer translucent. Transfer grilled pesto shrimp skewers to a clean large plate or baking sheet.
- Serve the pesto shrimp immediately. I like to remove the shrimp from the skewers, toss the burst tomatoes into the Caprese couscous, then pile the shrimp over top. Enjoy!
- Ingredient Notes:
- “Fresh” pesto & lemon: Feel free to whip up a batch of homemade pesto for this recipe (my go-to lemon basil pesto recipe is below!), or grab store-bought for extra convenience. For best results, use fresh pesto rather than jarred (i.e. if store-bought, use the kind sold in the refrigerator section, which tends to taste freshest & has a nice, saucy consistency). If your pesto is on the thicker side, squeeze some fresh lemon juice in as directed to help loosen it up.
- Go-to lemon basil pesto: To a food processor, add 1 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves & tender stems, 4 cloves garlic, zest & juice of 1/2 lemon, 1/4 cup grated parmesan, 2 tablespoons pine nuts, & 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. Pulse to combine, stopping to scrape down the sides of the food processor as needed. With the processor running, slowly stream in 3-4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil until your desired consistency is reached. Set aside, or transfer to an airtight container & store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
- Storage & Reheating: Pesto shrimp skewers are best enjoyed the day you grill them, though leftovers will keep, stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator, for up to 2 days. Leftover burst tomato couscous Caprese will keep, stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to 4 days. Enjoy leftovers chilled, or reheat on the stovetop or in the microwave just until warmed through.
Keywords: pesto shrimp recipe, grilled shrimp recipe, coucous recipe, grilled pesto shrimp recipe, easy summer dinners, quick grilling recipes