Recipe: Pasta with Shrimp & Walnut Pesto

I haven’t made Shrimp with Walnut Pesto for a while but my friend Donna called me the other day asking for a summery dinner party dish and I suggested this as it’s so fresh-tasting and delicious.

The attached pic is the one she took with her I-Phone and emailed to me. Thanks Donna; I hope you don’t mind that I tweaked it.

Re the shrimp – personally I’m a bit off shrimp right now, unless I know for a fact that it wasn’t farmed in Vietnam or Thailand as their farming techniques are allegedly somewhat questionable.

But if you’re OK with that, then carry on – or look for freshwater shrimp, ‘wild caught’ or shrimp with a Gulf stamp on it – on the other hand Gulf shrimp might be interesting as well, in a BP kind of way. Oh, what the heck. This tastes great whatever shrimp you use. Just be sure they’re raw, cleaned and very fresh.

There was slightly too much garlic in the pesto for Donna’s delicate taste-buds (she used six cloves), so feel free to adjust the amount to suit and you can make the walnut pesto ahead and freeze in little ice cube trays.

Notes at the end.


(Serves 6)


4 cups of flat leaf Italian parsley leaves; washed and dried

1 ¼ cup of walnuts, lightly toasted in the oven (no more than 8-10 mins at 350F / 180C should do it) – set aside and chop ¼ cup

4-6 cloves of garlic (One set aside for the shrimp), chopped

1 ½ teaspoons of finely grated lemon zest

½ cup of extra-v olive oil

Sea salt, freshly ground black pepper to taste

2 tablespoons of butter

1 ¼ lbs / 570g of raw shrimp – peeled and deveined

¼ cup of fresh lemon juice

1 lb / 450g gemelli pasta

To serve:

1 punnet/carton of ripe cherry tomatoes, halved – and the reserved ¼ cup of chopped walnuts


In a processor, blend the first 4 ingredients and with the motor running, pour the olive oil in a slow steady stream to create a pesto. Season with salt and freshly milled black pepper – set aside.

Cook the pasta according to instructions.

Meanwhile, sauté the remaining chopped garlic in the butter for 30 seconds then add the shrimp. Cook for 2 minutes; add the fresh lemon juice then cook for another 2 minutes until the shrimp is opaque – season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Drain the pasta; toss with the pesto then add the shrimp and the halved cherry tomatoes. Check for seasoning and finally add the ¼ cup of chopped toasted walnuts and serve.


If you can’t find gemelli pasta, use shells or some other corkscrewy shaped pasta that captures the sauce.

Traditionally, Parmesan cheese isn’t served with this dish (or other seafood pasta dishes for that matter) but if you can’t live without it…go ahead, make your day! It wouldn’t make mine.

There’s no need to add olive oil to the pasta cooking water; oil prevents the sauce from sticking to the pasta and you want it to stick.

Donna left the tails on her shrimp – it a personal choice and I prefer them tail free because I don’t want to have to use my fingers when eating pasta.

I’ll be posting a recipe for peaches next; Colorado peaches are perfect right now!

About edibletcetera

I'm passionate about food; I cook, photograph, eat...then writes about it in that order. I'm also an occasional restaurant critic and caterer; a former newspaper columnist; author; social media/marketing communications; world traveler; dog lover; skier...and wit, (according to those who know me).
This entry was posted in Fish & Seafood, Pasta. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Recipe: Pasta with Shrimp & Walnut Pesto

  1. Sue Ellen Burckhart says:

    I love shrimp with pasta. I made some with just lemon, butter, little bit of garlic, white wine and capers over angel hair pasta this summer. Very easy and good too. Sooo good with bread for dipping and sparkling wine.

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