Shrimp and Penne with Walnut Pesto

By Dane Feldman

Photo by Dane Feldman.

Sometimes, I just want some pasta with pesto — even in the summer. I spend so much time eating light dinners in the hotter weather that I often forget to eat heartier, more filling meals. Throwing some shrimp into the mix keeps it light, but not too light.

Serves 4.

What you’ll need for the walnut pesto:
5 large garlic cloves
1/2 cup walnuts
2/3 cup grated pecorino romano cheese
1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
3 cups garden basil
2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

What you’ll need for the shrimp and pasta:
1 1/2 lb shrimp
3/4 lb pasta

Cook the pasta as you normally would in a pot.

Put garlic cloves in the food processor and pulse. Add in the walnuts, cheese, pepper, and basil. Then process again until pureed.

While the processor is on, pour in the olive oil very slowly. Stop the processor once you’ve finished pouring in the oil.

Cook the shrimp in a large pan for 3 minutes on each side. Then, add the pesto to the shrimp in the pan. Then spoon in some of the pasta water and stir. Add the pasta, stir again, and cook this all together for about a minute or so and stir at least one more time before serving.

I used fresh basil from our garden, but this time of year, fresh basil is available at pretty much all supermarkets, which is great if you aren’t growing your own. I also use walnuts instead of pine nuts because my mother doesn’t like pine nuts, but I find that the walnuts really do add a different dimension. It’s a great spin on an old favorite!