Easy Shrimp Linguine with Pesto Cream and Oven Roasted Cherry Tomatoes
This fast and simple shrimp linguine recipe uses just 6 ingredients, and comes together in one pan! A decadent taste of Italy for you and your loved ones.
This dish is inspired by the naturally succulent flavor combination that is shrimp, garlic, basil, and tomato. In true Italian style, it is uncomplicated and pure in it's simplicity.
We are throwing this together by using our homemade pesto recipe, as well as the tart and sweet oven roasted cherry tomatoes. Just add shrimp, a little lemon and cream, toss it with the linguine, and you'll have a seafood meal everyone will love!
Shrimp - How to Purchase and Prep
You may be among the lucky few, living close to the ocean, with a connection for fresh shrimp. Unless this is your story, purchasing the best quality shrimp can be daunting. There are so many choices, both in size, variety, and description.
Fresh or frozen? Small, medium, large? Shell on, peeled, deveined, tail on? Wild, Asian, gulf? Those are the main questions, and we'll briefly answer them here.
The shrimp in the seafood case may look fresh, but look for the "previously frozen" descriptor. You're just paying for them to thaw them for you at that point.
Look for numbers describing the size as opposed to names, as in "16-20". This means that there are 16 to 20 shrimp per pound. Lower numbers are bigger.
Convenience versus flavor is the "shell game" of shrimp. Shell on tastes the best in the end, but if you don't want to peel them or de vein them, go ahead and get what is easiest for you.
Wild caught shrimp are not only typically tastier, but they are better for the environment also. Most Asian shrimp are farm raised. We prefer gulf shrimp for the sweet flavor and succulent texture that they provide.
You've bought them, now what?
How shrimp are handled makes a huge difference in the finished quality. The flavor is very delicate, and can be diminished along the way.
Thawing frozen shrimp - slow and gentle makes all the difference. Make sure to pull them from the freezer and thaw them overnight in your refrigerator. Running water over them will make them absorb it. Cooking them directly from frozen will prevent them from searing, and we're not even going to discuss the microwave, ok?
Once the shrimp are thawed, they may need additional prep. This video from Andrew Zimmern shows the basics quite well.
Finally, make sure that they are as dry as possible before cooking. Like all proteins, they won't sear in the pan if the water has to cook off first. Patting them down with a paper towel should do the trick.
- Shrimp - See the shopping and prepping guide above. We use them once completely peeled so that they are easy to eat without having to mess with the shell. Leaving the tail on does contribute some flavor though, if you don't mind pulling them off as you eat. These are 16-20 size, but just about any size will work.
- Oven roasted tomatoes - These little guys are just packed with concentrated tomato flavor. See the "variations" section for substitution suggestions, if you haven't made these. They really add a beautiful depth of flavor to so many things, and are easy to make as well!
- Pesto - Once again, of course we are using our from scratch recipe here. Freshly made pesto is the best, but store bought is ok.
- Linguine - Somewhere right between spaghetti and fettucine in size and texture, al dente cooked in a quick 12 minutes.
- Lemon - If you are still buying lemon juice, do yourself a favor and try squeezing it fresh. A lemon has a pretty long shelf life in the fridge, and the flavor difference is night and day.
- Cream - 36% milk fat content. Usually labeled as "heavy" or "whipping".
See recipe card for quantities.
Step One - Searing
Gather all of your ingredients as close to the pan as possible. This process will go quickly. For best results, begin cooking the pasta at this point.
Once the pan is good and hot, toss the shrimp in carefully. Toss or stir only briefly to ensure they aren't sticking, then let them sear.
Step Two - Flip and Add Tomatoes
Once the shrimp are seared on one side and are curling, flip them over.
Add the tomatoes.
Step Three - Add Lemon and Pesto
Squeeze the lemon directing into the pan.
Follow immediately with the pesto.
Step Four - Build the Sauce
Toss everything together to combine.
Pour in the cream and stir.
Step Five - Reduce Cream, add Pasta
Reduce the sauce briefly until just starting to thicken.
Stir in the cooked pasta.
Step Six - Combine and Serve
Stir together to combine all of those yummy flavors, and coat the linguine.
Plate the finished shrimp linguine, and garnish with a little parmesan cheese, if desired. Buon Appetito!
In order to prepare pasta properly, there are a couple of steps that make a lot of difference. Time your pasta and sauce to cook and be hot going into the pan with the sauce, so that you don't cool everything down with cold noodles. When you drain the pasta water, reserve a little of the salted water to add back in case the sauce gets too thick.
This simple and easy pasta recipe can be varied in a great many ways! Here are a few:
- Spicy - Add a few dried red chili flakes for a bit of heat.
- White Wine - Throwing in a little white wine with the lemon adds a light acidity to the pesto cream.
- Different Protein - The combination of pesto cream sauce and roasted tomatoes works with just about any type of meat, try chicken, clams, or bacon, or leave the meat out entirely for a vegetarian delight!
- Sun Dried Tomato - We wouldn't suggest fresh tomatoes in this because of the water content, but the soft variety of sun dried tomatoes will work instead of the oven dried ones.
The finished pasta leftovers will store dependably tightly sealed in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Just microwave for 2 minutes to re heat, or toss in a medium high pan with a few tablespoons of water, and cover for 5 minutes.
Freezing this dish is not recommended, as re-heating it will most likely result in over cooked and mushy pasta.
For that all-important sear in the pan, having the pan nice and hot, and patting the shrimp dry is vital. We also suggest seasoning the shrimp with salt and pepper, and coating them with a little oil before adding them to the pan. Having a little oil on the surface of the protein, and the surface of the pan, keeps them from sticking. It also helps to achieve the hard sear that will result in the sweet flavor and succulent texture that everyone loves.
If you love shrimp, and who doesn't, try these Mojo Shrimp
We love pasta! Try out our Greek Orzo Pasta Salad.
Easy Shrimp Linguine
- 1 stock pot for pasta
- 1 colander ""
- 1 sauté pan large
- 1 citrus juicer optional
- 1 tongs
- 1 lb. shrimp large, high quality, see post
- 4 oz. oven roasted cherry tomatoes see recipe post, can sub sun dried
- 1 each lemon
- 4 tbsp. pesto see recipe post, can sub store bought
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 2 tbsp. olive oil pure, or olive oil blend, not extra virgin
- 1½ tsp. salt kosher
- ¼ tsp. pepper
- ½ lb. linguine
- 4 Tbsp. cheese parmesan, grated
- Fill stock pot with enough water to submerge pasta.
- Place pot on stove over high heat.
- Add one teaspoon of salt to pasta water.
- Heat sauté pan over medium high.
- When pasta water boils, add linguine, stirring to prevent sticking.
- Set a timer for 12 minutes.
- Season shrimp with salt and pepper, and add 1 tbsp. of oil to coat.
- Add remaining oil to sauté pan, heating for a few seconds.
- Add shrimp to pan, evening out to a single layer.
- Sear one side of shrimp until curled, about 1 minute.
- Toss or flip shrimp over.
- Add roasted tomatoes.
- Squeeze lemon into pan.
- Add pesto, and stir or toss to combine and coat.
- Add heavy cream to pan and stir through to combine.
- Reduce heat to medium.
- While sauce is reducing, strain pasta from the stock pot when the timer finishes, reserve a small amount of the hot water.
- Add the pasta to the pan once the sauce is just starting to thicken, watch the bubbles, once they struggle to pop.
- Toss and stir the pasta to evenly coat with sauce. If the sauce is too thick, adjust with a little of the reserved pasta water.
- Plate and serve, topped with parmesan.