Shrimp Pasta with Cilantro Pesto Recipe

This Shrimp Pasta with Cilantro Pesto Recipe will surprise you at how easy it is. Of course, it’s delicious too.

Shrimp Pasta with Cilantro Pesto

Shrimp and pasta is one of our favorite quick go-to dishes. It is so perfect for an easy last-minute weeknight meal, yet an excellent dish for a special occasion. Plus, we usually have all ingredients on hand ready to make a variety of combinations: a box of pasta, frozen shrimp, fresh basil growing outside during the summertime, fresh cilantro during cooler months, or jarred roasted red peppers stocked during winter. There is always some sort of combination that we can toss together in a pinch. Pasta is versatile that way.

One of our favorite sauces to make for pasta is pesto. We enjoy making a variety of pesto combinations. Packed with flavor and pretty nutritional ingredients, pesto is a great sidekick for pasta. And pesto can be made ahead of time, which is always a winner in my kitchen. This recipe for Shrimp Pasta with Cilantro Pesto Recipe is easy enough for a quick weeknight meal, but impressive enough for a special dinner with friends. The pesto is made with fresh cilantro, roasted peppers and pistachios. The flavors are incredible! Of course, you can always substitute a basic basil pesto in this recipe too.

Let’s get to this easy Shrimp Pasta with Cilantro Pesto Recipe. Prepare the pasta as directed on package, and don’t forget to salt the water. No oil. Just salt. Remember to reserve some of the pasta water—about a 1/2 cup.

Shrimp Pasta with Cilantro Pesto Recipe

Saute the shrimp (or chicken) in a little olive oil, salt and pepper. It only takes about 2-3 minutes for shrimp to cook. Once done, remove and set aside. Add the cilantro pesto (pesto recipe found here) and a tablespoon or so of the pasta water.

Shrimp Pasta with Cilantro Pesto Recipe

Whisk the pesto and pasta water together over low-medium heat until blended smooth. If needed add a bit more water until desired consistency is reached. Remove from heat.

Shrimp Pasta with Cilantro Pesto Recipe

Next, add the pasta and shrimp back to the pan, and gently toss the pasta with the pesto sauce and shrimp.

Shrimp Pasta with Cilantro Pesto Recipe

You’re done! That’s it. Ready to serve. Just watch it disappear right before your very eyes!

A few notes:

  • For this pasta dish, shrimp or chicken is a great combination with the cilantro pesto.
  • Sometimes I like to splurge on good quality egg pasta. It’s so worth it. If you’ve never had egg pasta before, go find some. It’s good. Like really good. Tagliolini is my favorite noodle size. It’s like linguini but thinner. Be forewarned, it’s not cheap, but for special occasions it certainly is a nice change of pace. Of course, you could always make your own too.
  • For a vegetarian version, easily substitute sautéed onions, peppers, mushrooms, or even thin fresh green beans.
  • The Roasted Pepper Pistachio Cilantro Pesto can be made ahead, covered tightly and refrigerated for a couple of days. It’s a wonderful spread for bruschetta (a fancy word for toast), or crudités, or thin out with more olive oil, a smudge of lime juice and/or vinegar to make a salad dressing to accompany the pasta dish.

Shrimp Pasta with Cilantro Pesto Recipe

A quick and tasty recipe easy enough for any night of the week yet perfect for a special occasion meal.

Ingredients:

16 ounces, weight pasta of choice
3-4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined (or chicken, cubed)
pinches salt and pepper
1 cup Roasted Pepper Pistachio Cilantro Pesto Recipe (or Basic Basil Pesto)*

Directions:

  1. Prepare the pasta as directed on package, and don’t forget to salt the water. No oil. Just salt. Remember to reserve some of the pasta water—about a 1/2 cup.
  2. Heat olive oil in skillet over medium heat. Add shrimp; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Saute shrimp for about 2-3 minutes, until done. Remove shrimp; set aside.
  3. Add pesto and 1 tablespoon or so of the pasta water. Whisk the pesto and pasta water together over low-medium heat until blended smooth. If needed add a bit more water until desired consistency is reached. Remove from heat.
  4. Add pasta and shrimp to pesto sauce, and gently, being careful not to squish the pasta, toss the pasta with the pesto sauce and sauteed shrimp (or chicken).

* The pesto can be made a 2-3 days ahead of time, then kept covered and refrigerated until ready to use.

Originally published March 5, 2010.