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A macro close-up shot of shrimp pesto pasta garnished with pine nuts and basil leaves.

25-Minute Shrimp Pesto Pasta

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  • Author: Jess Larson
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: serves 4
  • Category: Pasta Recipes, Main Dishes
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Italian

Description

As far as I’m concerned, shrimp and pesto are a low-effort dinner match made in heaven. This 25-minute dinner recipe brings the two together in a light-yet-satisfying pasta dinner that’s super fresh-tasting and hella fast-cooking!

Since shrimp are so easy to overcook, I like slicing each shrimp into a few bite-sized pieces and quickly sautéing them with already-softened aromatics. Everything finishes cooking at the same time, and the shrimp stay perfectly juicy and flavorful – never bland or rubbery!

Just serve over a light and herbaceous pesto pasta with lots of lemon and some fresh basil leaves for a meal that’s both simple and stunning. Nothing not to love! ♡ Happy cooking!


Ingredients

Scale

for the pesto pasta:

for the quick garlic shrimp:


Instructions

  1. Boil the pasta: Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil. Cook to al dente according to package directions, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. Once cooked, carefully dip a liquid measuring cup into the pot to reserve about 1 cup of the starchy pasta water, and set aside. Carefully drain the pasta. (Learn more! ⇢ How to Cook Pasta Perfectly Every Single Time!)An overhead shot of cooked spaghetti noodles in a colander over a white cocotte on an off-white surface.
  2. Prepare the shrimp: Meanwhile, as the pasta boils, prep the shrimp. If present, remove the tails from the shrimp. Slice each shrimp into 4-5 small bite-sized pieces.An overhead shot of raw shrimp being chopped into fine pieces on a white cutting board atop an off-white surface.
  3. Cook the shrimp: Add the olive oil to a nonstick pan over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot and shimmering, add the shallot and bell pepper. Season with ½ teaspoon kosher salt and ground black pepper as desired. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and fragrant, 4-5 minutes. Add the shrimp, garlic, and chili peppers (if using) to the skillet. Season with 1 teaspoon kosher salt and ground black pepper as desired. Stir to combine well. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the shrimp is opaque and cooked through, 2-3 minutes longer. Remove from the heat and ½ lemon juice over top. Set aside.An overhead shot of finely chopped garlic shrimp being cooked in a nonstick pan with a wooden spoon atop an off-white surface.
  4. Assemble the pesto pasta. Transfer the drained pasta back into the pot used to boil it. Add the pesto, ½ lemon juice, and toss to combine well – the pesto sauce should evenly coat the pasta. Add in some of the reserved pasta water if the sauce needs to loosen up a little. Cook 1-2 minutes longer, allowing the pasta to meld with the sauce, then remove from the heat.An overhead shot of pesto pasta being lifted with tongs from a white cocotte atop an off-white surface. An empty jar of pesto and a juiced lemon half sit alongside it.
  5. Serve: Portion the pesto pasta into individual bowls, topping with the prepared shrimp. Finish with a sprinkling of chopped fresh herbs or grated parmesan as desired. Serve immediately. Enjoy!An overhead shot of shrimp pesto pasta in a large white bowl atop a straw charger on an off-white surface. The pasta is garnished with pine nuts and basil leaves, and sits alongside a glass of white wine, a dish of pine nuts and a second bowl of pasta.

Notes

Jess’ Tips and Tricks:

  • Seafood U/Count: A seafood’s “count” number is a measure of size, indicating how many individual pieces make a pound. The smaller the “count,” the larger the shrimp and vice versa (i.e. 16-count shrimp are larger than 25-count shrimp because only 16 individual shrimp make up 1 pound vs 25 pieces). If you cannot find “extra large” or 26-30 count shrimp, feel free to swap them out with the largest shrimp available to you, noting that you will need to decrease cook time to ensure the shrimp do not overcook.
  • Thawing frozen shrimp: The best way to thaw frozen shrimp is to place them in a zip-top bag and submerge in cool water. The steady, cool temperature of the water creates a controlled environment for the frozen shrimp to come up to room temperature. Refresh the water every 10 minutes or so, until the shrimp are completely thawed – 25-30 minutes, tops!
  • 10-Minute Meal Prep: Most of the active prep required for this shrimp pesto pasta comes from chopping the shrimp and veggies. Get all the chopping out of the way ahead of time and all you have to do at dinnertime is cook the shrimp – easy!
    • Prep the shrimp as directed in Step 2, above. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
    • Chop the veggies: Dice 1 shallot and ½ medium bell pepper. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Storage and Reheating:

  • Leftover shrimp pesto pasta will keep, stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator, for 1-2 days. Reheat on the stovetop or in the microwave, adding an extra splash of water or cooking stock to loosen up the pesto sauce as needed, until warmed through.