It was just over a year ago that we featured a walnut pesto recipe for penne pasta. It was fast, easy and satisfying. Pesto is one of the simplest things you can adapt to your tastes or to what you have on hand. If you have nuts, herbs, oil and a little citrus, you can make pesto. A bit of parmesan cheese is just the icing on the cake. Over the holidays, especially when you have guests, you have to keep in mind that they want to eat the few days before the big event as well. That means you have to make other dishes besides the turkey, ham and pies. What do you pull out when you’re not in the mood to make a huge meal for every meal? Well, pasta of course. Pasta with pesto.
The first batch of pesto with walnuts, sage and parmesan was just the thing for penne pasta. A box of rotini needed its own version of a pesto too. This time walnuts, basil and parmesan came together with a helping of cream to create a sauce–a sauce that would drape hearty rotini noodles and tender, sweet shrimp. Dinner was thrown together in minutes, which is just the kind of thing you want to hear when you know you have hours of cooking on the horizon. This dish would work perfectly with chicken or without any meat at all. You could also substitute pine nuts for a more ‘traditional’ pesto. But who needs tradition? Make your own version of this pasta, and you’ll start a new tradition that works for you.
Creamy Pesto Shrimp and Pasta – Serves 8
1 pound rotini, cooked
2 pounds raw shrimp, cleaned and peeled
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted
2 cloves garlic
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 ounce fresh basil, destemmed
Juice and zest of 1/2 lemon
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 tablespoon kosher salt
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1. Put the walnuts, garlic, parmesan and basil into a food processor and blend until crumbly. Add the olive oil and lemon juice and zest and continue to blend until you have a thick paste.
2. Add the walnut paste to the shrimp, along with the heavy cream and begin to work the ingredients together. In a separate small bowl, stir together the water and cornstarch and pour it into the same pan with the vegetables. Cover, turn the heat down to low and simmer for another 2-3 minutes. Once done, remove from heat and stir in the salt.
3. Toss the shrimp and pesto sauce with the rotini until coated, then sprinkle with parsley and serve.
Click HERE for the printable recipe.