This super quick and straightforward shrimp and fresh pesto pasta recipe brings together a host of delicious flavors and textures, especially the classic fresh pesto straight from the kitchens of Genoa in northern Italy. Pasta and pesto is a Genovese classic. Add in the shrimp and you have a sure-fire winner of a dish.
Better still, serve the dish hot for lunch or dinner, or leave it to go cold and you have a fantastic salad for a warm summer's day.
- 1 cup fresh basil (stalks removed)
- 1/2 garlic clove
- 4 to 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons Pecorino Romano cheese (freshly grated)
- 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese (freshly grated)
- 2 tablespoons pine nuts (pignoli)
- Kosher salt (to taste)
- 8 ounces dried tagliatelle or spaghetti
- 8 ounces shrimp (cleaned)
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes (halved)
Gather your ingredients and start by making the pesto.
Place the basil and garlic into a food processor and pulse several times.
With the motor running continuously, slowly add the olive oil through the top funnel to form a thick (but not oily) paste. You may need less olive oil than the recipe states.
Add the Pecorino and Parmesan and pulse two or three times.
Finally, add the pine nuts (pignoli) and stir. Taste and add a tiny pinch of salt if needed. Scoop the pesto into a bowl, cover with a tea cloth, and put to one side.
Cook the tagliatelle according to the packet instructions in a large volume of boiling lightly salted water (approximately 8 to 10 minutes). The pasta should be slightly firm (al dente).
While the pasta is cooking, check over the shrimp to make sure they are clean and there is no black vein remaining down the back. If there is, wipe with a paper towel.
Heat the oil in a non-stick skillet to hot, but not smoking. Add the shrimp and fry until the shrimp are pink through to the middle. Remove from the pan and keep warm.
Add the halved cherry tomatoes to the pan you cooked the shrimp in, sprinkle with a tiny pinch of salt, and cook over a medium for 3 to 4 minutes to soften the tomatoes. Keep warm.
Drain the pasta reserving a cup of the cooking water.
Toss the pasta in a large warmed bowl. Stir the pesto through one tablespoon at a time until you have the strength of taste you want; pesto is a very strong flavoured, so be careful not to drown the pasta. If the pasta feels a little dry, add a bit of the cooking water and stir through.
Add the shrimp and cherry tomatoes, stir again.
Serve immediately in warmed pasta bowls. The shrimp pesto is also good cold and served as a summer salad.
- Leftover pesto? The pesto will keep in the refrigerator for a couple of days if covered with a thin layer of olive oil. Pesto also freezes well; freeze it in small quantities (e.g., ice cube trays are very useful).
If you cannot find Pecorino Romano, do not worry; double the Parmesan instead. The Pecorino does add a different flavor to the pesto, but freshly grated Parmesan will still taste fabulous.