From the beginning of our relationship Bryan knew I was a foodie – he may have known before we even met since all I contributed to the camping gear was food. We met on a camping trip up in Ludington back in September 2011. On that trip, I brought a ton of food. On our second “meeting”, I made a delicious meal while up north skiing in Boyne. Third date, I prepared homemade pasta carbonara for him in Chicago. Needless to say, he caught on for my love for food and knew he had to step it up on his kitchen knowledge.
The first homemade meal Bryan prepared for me was this Shrimp Pasta with Cilantro Pesto. We lived together at this time and for the most part I had done most of the meal prep. However, one day he said he was going to try out a recipe and cook for me. I was very excited and came home to find him in the kitchen adorning an apron. He was slowly removing each leaf of cilantro off of the stem. It took him a really long time to pull off all those leaves and I didn’t mention that you can use a little bit of the stems., but I won’t forget him tearing all those leaves.. it was his meal, his preparation and boy was it good.
This dish has become a regular in our weeknight meal rotation. Super quick to make, minimal dishes and a delicious and satisfying result. Do you remember my Tilapia with Cilantro pesto post? This pesto is basically the same, but with a couple adaptations to the pesto. It is made a bit thinner so that it coats the pasta nicely. Also, I don’t use nuts because I want to avoid the nutty flavor in order to maximize the cilantro flavor. Over the years, we have tweaked our version of the pesto and continue to make improvements to it.
I strongly recommend this dish when entertaining guests too. It is a very pretty dish and since it is easy to make (pesto can be made ahead) you have more time to hang out with your guests instead of spending the whole evening by the stove. Use whole grain penne, wild caught shrimp and organic ingredients in the pesto for a clean & wholesome meal.
Penne + shrimp & cilantro pesto
Recipe by: Sara
Prep Time: 15 minutes ||| Cook TIme: 8-10 minutes ||| Servings: 4 ||| Difficulty: Low
half box whole grain penne pasta
1 lb wild caught shrimp, peeled & deveined
2 bushels of cilantro, leaves only
1 garlic clove
1 lemon, juiced
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 cup pasta water
1/4 cup grated fresh parmesan
1 tsp dried oregano
dash of cayenne pepper
salt and pepper
1. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil, add penna when boiling and cook according to package directions. Reserve about 1 1/2 cups of the water once the pasta is drained.
2. Meanwhile, in a food processor combine the cilantro, parmesan, oil, garlic, and seasonings. Pulse until combined then slowly add 1/4 cup of water at a time, pulsing until smooth.
3. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Season the shrimp with salt and pepper. Cook for about 4 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.
4. In the pasta pot, combine the pesto, shrimp and pasta. Stir to combine and season with salt and pepper.
5. Serve with additional parmesan cheese.