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Spaghetti with Shrimp and Pesto

Spaghetti with Shrimp and Pesto
Photo by Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post


I came up with this recipe one Wednesday at about 7 p.m. while staring down a hungry family and a mostly empty refrigerator, and with minimal energy in my tank for cooking after a long workday. This pasta, in a lemony basil pesto studded with plump shrimp, wound up on the table about 20 minutes later that evening. It involves three main ingredients, each of which I almost always have on hand: shrimp, basil pesto (both in the freezer) and whole-grain spaghetti.  It turned out to be so delicious, this Spaghetti with Shrimp and Pesto has been in regular rotation ever since.


Spaghetti with Shrimp and Pesto



12-ounces whole grain spaghetti
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 large cloves garlic, sliced
1 pound medium to large shrimp, (26-30 per pound) shelled and devein
¾ cup basil pesto, homemade or store bought
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
Salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
4 small sprigs of fresh basil for garnish



In a large pot of boiling water, cook the pasta until it is nearly cooked, taking it out 1 minute sooner that “al dente” according to the directions on the package. Reserve about a cup of the pasta water before draining.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large deep skillet over a medium heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until just golden, about 1 minute. Add the shrimp and cook, stirring occasionally, until pink but not all the way cooked through, about 3 minutes. Add the pesto, lemon juice and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring, until simmering, 1 minute. Add the drained pasta to the skillet and continue to cook, tossing with tongs, until the pasta is coated in the sauce and the shrimp is cooked through, 1-2 minutes more. Add a splash or two of the pasta cooking water to loosen the sauce, as needed. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve garnished with basil sprigs.

Makes 4 servings

Per serving: Calories 450; Total Fat 22g (Sat Fat 4g); Protein 26g; Carb 45g; Fiber 0g; Cholesterol 125mg; Sodium 280mg; Sugars 0g


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