Shrimp and linguine noodles are tossed with a light artichoke pesto to give you an elegant yet easy weeknight dinner that works for date night too.
While I’m all about zoodles and cutting down on carbs, sometimes I just really, really want some pasta! Do you know what I mean?! This Shrimp Linguine with Lemon Artichoke Pesto blends veggies with whole-grain linguine to give you a relatively healthy pasta dish!
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My first test run of this dish was when two girlfriends came over for dinner one spring evening. One of them doesn’t eat meat or chicken, only seafood, so I needed a good option for the main course. It was kind of a rainy, overcast day so seemed like a good idea to do something indoors. I feel like pesto is always a good option with pasta but wanted to create something with a little more substance to it than traditional basil pesto. Enter artichokes – one of my most favorite veggies of all!
Artichokes have always been one of my favorites. I grew up eating them just steamed and dipped in sauce. I’m always looking for new ways to prepare them, so when I started thinking about pesto, combining them with lemon and a little basil just seemed like such a natural combo to me.
Fresh artichokes are fabulous when steamed or grilled but when you get into canned or frozen, they can lack flavor and need a bit of help to make them shine. Some good ways to incorporate artichokes include adding them to a salad or combining them with fresh spices and using them as a pizza topping. Making them into pesto might just be one of my new favorite things!
This recipe uses fairly simple ingredients. Here’s what you’ll need:
- Peeled and deveined shrimp: You can use frozen shrimp in this dish, just defrost the shrimp before you cook them and be sure they are not pre-cooked. For this dish, I recommend tail-off shrimp for ease of eating, though as you can see in the photos, it looks really nice if you use tail-on shrimp.
- Canned Artichokes: One 15 ounce can is what you’ll need for this recipe.
- Fresh Basil: You don’t need much so if you grow it in your garden, this is a great way to use it up.
- Walnuts: Smaller pieces are ideal, however, if you have whole walnuts you can roughly chop them before adding them to the food processor.
- Whole Wheat Linguine: You can substitute any type of linguine you like. Follow the package directions for the correct cooking time.
- Lemon zest and juice: Be sure to zest the lemon before you juice it. I recommend using freshly squeezed for both. You’ll need one large lemon.
- Parmesan: To get the best flavor, I’d recommend using freshly grated parmesan cheese for this recipe.
- Spices: Sea salt, ground pepper
- Pantry staples: Olive oil, fresh garlic
Making Pesto & Shrimp Linguine
Make the pesto. Like all pestos, this one comes together pretty easily with the use of your food processor. Just toss the ingredients in, pulse a couple of times and then slowly add the oil until you get a nice consistency.
Meal prep tip: You can make the pesto ahead of time, up to a day or two in advance, and store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
Cook the pasta. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and generously salt the water. Then cook the pasta according to the package directions. Don’t forget to reserve some of the pasta water when you are draining the pasta. You’ll need it when you go to do the final prep of this dish. The recipe only calls for about ½ cup but I typically reserve about a cup, just in case I need a little extra.
Sauté the shrimp. The shrimp get tossed with olive oil and garlic and then quickly sautéd in a hot pan.
Why Add Pasta Water?
One of the keys to a good creamy pasta dish is often adding some of the pasta water and mixing everything together in a warm pan. It helps to distribute the sauce evenly and ensure all the noodles get well coated. It only adds a few minutes of prep time and makes a big difference to the dish. Once you get the hang of doing it and see what a difference it makes, you’ll probably start adding this step to many of your pasta dishes!
Additional notes from the Kitchen
- I used half a box or 8oz of the linguine for this recipe. If you want to be exact you can weigh it using a kitchen scale, otherwise, just eyeball it. It won’t impact the recipe if you use slightly more or less.
- You can make a double batch of this pesto and use half in this recipe and save the other half for another time. It’s great tossed with any pasta, or even as a sandwich spread or chicken salad add-in.
- If you are a big artichoke fan, check out my recipe for Grilled Baby Artichokes which are drizzled with balsamic glaze.
This a nice light dish that’s great for spring or fall, however, it really works at any time of year as long as you don’t mind firing up your stove to do some cooking. And what I love about this dish is that it’s easy enough for a weeknight dinner, however, works well for entertaining or date night too!!
Since this dish contains protein and carbs, I’d pair it with a simple green salad or this chopped kale salad for some greens. You could also add a simple veggie, such as these Roasted Carrots with Ricotta and Honey, as a side dish.
A nice wine pairing with this recipe is lighter white wine like a Vermentino or Pinot Grigio.
More pasta dishes
things you may want for this recipe
Kitchen Scale – For many ingredients like butter, pasta and grated cheese I prefer to weigh them instead of measure, so a kitchen scale comes in handy. It’s also great if you are trying to work on your portion control!
Food Processor – I think a good food processor is an essential kitchen tool and an absolute must for making pesto. This basic 9-cup model will suit most needs in the average kitchen. If you cook a lot, you might want to invest in a model with a larger bowl and a wider variety of blades.
Shrimp Linguine with Lemon Artichoke Pesto
For the pesto:
- 1 can artichoke hearts, drained and rinsed
- 1 clove garlic
- ¼ cup basil leaves
- ½ tsp lemon zest
- 1 ½ tsp chopped walnuts
- 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- ⅛ tsp ground pepper
- 2 tbsp olive oil
For the shrimp & pasta:
- 8 oz whole wheat linguine
- 1 pound peeled and deveined shrimp
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tbsp grated parmesan
- Make the pesto. Fit a large food processor with a standard blade. Add artichokes and garlic, pulse several times until the artichokes are roughly chopped. Add basil, lemon zest, lemon juice and walnuts. Pulse 4-5 times. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add pepper and then, with the motor running slowly pour the olive oil down the chute and continue processing until fully blended.
- Cook the pasta. Cook according to the package directions. When the pasta is done cooking drain, reserving at least a ½ cup of the pasta water.
- Cook the shrimp. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. While the skillet is heating toss the shrimp with olive oil and garlic. Add shrimp to skillet and cook for 2 minutes. Using a pair of tongs, turn the shrimp and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes until shrimp and pink and cooked through.
- Finish the dish. Turn the heat off and add the pasta, pesto, and ¼ cup of the pasta water to the pan. Carefully toss to coat the linguine. Add additional pasta water, a small amount at a time, as needed. Serve immediately, topping with grated parmesan if desired.