This shrimp pesto pasta comes together in minutes and can be enjoyed hot or cold! Simple ingredients and perfect for a fast and fresh dinner.
We love a quick and easy pasta dish.
Pasta is something we enjoy on a very regular basis. One of our favorite dishes is a pesto pasta bake, which inspired us to tweak it a little to make this shrimp pesto pasta.
Table of Contents
Why this recipe works
As a family of pasta lovers, whenever shrimp is on sale or in season, we try to incorporate it in many of our evening meals (like seafood pasta or lasagna). This pesto pasta with shrimp is one we make on busy weeknights when we need something healthy and fast on the table!
- Quick and easy. All of the components of this pasta dish take a couple of minutes to cook.
- Perfect for meal prep. Make a big batch of this shrimp pesto pasta, divide it into portions, and have a delicious lunch or dinner ready for the entire week.
- Any pasta works. From wheat pasta varieties to chickpea and lentil pasta, you have a wide range of options to choose from.
- Enjoy it hot or cold. Similar to linguine with clams sauce, while we prefer this dish hot with a sprinkle of parmesan, cold leftovers work well as a pasta salad.
What I love about this recipe is just how flavorful and fancy it takes. The combination of pesto, shrimp, and the addition of chorizo takes it to another level.
This recipe calls for very simple ingredients that can be found at any basic grocery store. Here is what you’ll need:
- Penne pasta. The type of pasta I prefer to use for this recipe. You can use spaghetti, farfalle, fusilli, and any pasta of your choice.
- Shrimp. Fresh or frozen. If you use the frozen variety, ensure that they are thawed.
- Chorizo. This smoky sausage enriches the flavor of the shrimp pasta and gives the dish an appetizing red color.
- Basil pesto. Homemade or store-bought.
- Black olives. Drained and sliced.
- Mozzarella. I like to use mozzarella pearls for this recipe. These baby mozzarellas are easy to mix into the pasta and they look great too.
- Olive oil.
How to make shrimp pesto pasta
This recipe comes together quickly, especially once the pasta is cooked up.
Step 1 – Cook the pasta
Cook the penne according to the package instructions. Once cooked al dente, rinse the pasta under cold water and drain it.
Step 2 – Pan-fry the shrimp
While the pasta cooks, pan-fry the shrimp. Heat some oil in a large frying pan and cook the shrimp on medium-high heat for around 2 minutes per side. Remove the shrimp from the pan when the prawns curl and change color.
Add the chorizo into the same pan and cook for 3 minutes until golden brown. Remove the chorizo from the heat.
Step 3 – Combine all ingredients
Return the shrimp to the pan along with the cooked pasta. Add the pesto sauce, chopped olives, and mozzarella balls.
Season with salt to taste and sprinkle with baby basil.
Tips to make the best recipe
- Don’t add pesto to the hot pasta. The heat causes the pesto to change its color. To avoid this, mix the pesto sauce with warm pasta.
- Save some pasta water. Using a small amount of pasta water is the secret of making the pesto stick to the pasta. Pasta water also comes in handy whenever the finished dish is looking a little dry.
- Squeeze a lemon over the cooked shrimp. Once you are done cooking the shrimp, squeeze a lemon over them to brighten them up and add a hint of freshness.
- Season the shrimp. Seasoning the shrimp is particularly important if you are skipping the chorizo. Garlic powder and paprika are enough to make it taste good. Don’t forget about the salt too.
The beauty of this dish is that it is super simple to customize with other flavors or additions. Here is what we’ve tried:
- Use zucchini noodles. These vegetable noodles are a healthy and low-carb alternative to pasta and pair well with the rest of the ingredients in this dish.
- Add pine nuts. Toasted pine nuts will add some crunch to the dish. They will also enhance the nutty flavor of the pesto sauce.
- Make it spicy. Use chili flakes to cook the shrimp or add some chopped red chili to the pasta mix for some heat.
- Add tomatoes. Fresh cherry tomatoes tossed through the pasta at the end will brighten up the dish and give a lovely tomato flavor.
- Use pre-cooked shrimp. I love to make extra blackened or air fryer shrimp and keep half to toss through the cooked pasta.
To store: Transfer leftover shrimp pesto pasta into an airtight container and refrigerate it for up to 4 days. Any longer and the pesto isn’t as flavorful.
To freeze: Place the cooked and cooled pasta in a shallow container and store it in the freezer for up to 6 months.
To reheat: Microwave portions of the pasta for 20-30 seconds or reheat in a non-stick skillet until hot.
More pasta recipes to try
- Low calorie pasta
- Protein pasta
- Seafood pasta
- Almond flour pasta
- Lamb ragu
- Lasagna with cottage cheese
Frequently asked questions
You have a wide range of options when it comes to dishes you can eat with pesto pasta. Roasted vegetables, garlic bread, and even some toasted ciabatta are all fantastic options.
Shrimp Pesto Pasta
- 9 ounces pasta uncooked
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 10 ounces shrimp
- 14 ounces chorizo sliced
- 4 ounces basil pesto
- 1/4 cup black olives sliced
- 6 ounces mozzarella pearls
- 1/4 cup basil
- Cook the penne in a large saucepan of boiling water following packet directions or until al dente. Refresh under cold water. Drain well.
- Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Cook the prawns for 2 minutes on each side or until the prawns curl and change color. Transfer to a plate. Add the chorizo to the pan and cook, stirring, for 3 mins or until golden brown. Remove from heat.
- Return the prawns to the pan with the penne, pesto, olive, and baby mozzarella balls. Season and toss to combine. Sprinkle with basil and serve.
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