This shrimp pesto pasta recipe comes together in minutes and can be enjoyed hot or cold! Simple ingredients and perfect for a fast and fresh dinner.


As a family of pasta lovers, whenever shrimp is on sale or in season, we try to incorporate it into many of our evening meals, like seafood pasta or seafood lasagna. This pesto pasta with shrimp is one we make on busy weeknights when we need something healthy and fast on the table!

It’s perfectly balanced, kid and adult approved, and makes the best leftovers, too!

Why this recipe works

  • Quick and easy. All of the components of this pasta dish take only a few minutes to cook, and you can use any pasta you like! It also works VERY well with leftover cooked pasta.
  • Perfect for meal prep. Make a big batch of this shrimp 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. You can even use lower carb swaps like spaghetti squash.
  • Enjoy it hot or cold. While I prefer this dish hot with a sprinkle of grated parmesan cheese, cold leftovers work well, too.

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.

Ingredients needed

This recipe calls for very simple ingredients that can be found at any basic grocery store. Here is what you’ll need:

  1. Penne pasta. This is the type of pasta I prefer to use because it holds into the pesto sauce so much better. You can use spaghetti, farfalle, fusilli, or any non-wheat-based pasta of your choice.
  2. Basil pesto. The signature ingredient! Because it plays such an important role in this dish, choose a high-quality brand or make your own. It makes a huge difference.
  3. Shrimp. Fresh or frozen jumbo or large shrimp. If you use the frozen variety, ensure they are thawed before cooking. Also, remove any shells and tails.
  4. Chorizo. Optional, but I LOVE the addition of some sausage in my pasta dishes because it compliments the other ingredients so well. I like the cacique or Smallgoods brands, but use whatever you can find.
  5. Black olives. Drained and sliced.
  6. Mozzarella. I like to use mozzarella pearls for this recipe because they are easy to mix into the dish and ensure an even distribution of cheese. If you can’t find this, finely shred some mozzarella cheese.
  7. Extra virgin olive oil. For cooking.
  8. Salt & black pepper. To Taste.
  9. Basil. I like to add fresh basil to garnish and brighten the pesto flavor.

How to make shrimp pesto pasta

This recipe comes together quickly, especially once the pasta is cooked up.

Step 1 – Cook the pasta. Boil some salted water in pot and 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 skillet 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.

Step 3- Fry the chorizo. Add the chorizo into the same pan and cook for 3 minutes until golden brown. Remove the chorizo from the heat.

Step 4 – 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.

Recipe tips and variations

Here are a few extra ways to make the best pasta dish possible and some flavor variations to change things up.

  • Reserve some pasta water. If your combined dish is looking a little dry, use a small amount of your orgininal pasta water to add some moisture and assist the pesto in spreading evenly.
  • Season the shrimp. Seasoning the shrimp is particularly important if you skip the chorizo. Fresh garlic and paprika work great for this. Once you are done cooking the shrimp, you can also squeeze lemon juice over them.
  • Make it low-carb. If I’m watching my carbs or want a lighter option, I sometimes swap out the pasta for zucchini noodles or spaghetti squash. These two vegetables absorb the sauce well and taste great with shrimp.
  • Add pine nuts or tomatoes. Toasted pine nuts will add some crunch and enhance the nutty flavor of the pesto sauce. Fresh cherry tomatoes tossed through the pasta at the end will also brighten up the dish.
  • Use pre-cooked shrimp. I love to make extra blackened or air fryer shrimp and keep half to toss through the cooked pasta.

Storage instructions

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.


Frequently asked questions

What goes well with pesto pasta?

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.

What is pesto sauce made of?

Traditional pesto sauce is made up of basil, pine nuts, olive oil and often parmesan cheese.

Shrimp Pesto Pasta Recipe

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.
Servings 6 Servings
Prep Time 1 minute
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 16 minutes

Ingredients
  

  • 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

Instructions
 

  • 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.

Notes

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.
Author: Kit Food
Calories:
Course: Dinner Recipes
Cuisine: American

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