Asparagus-Spinach Pesto Pasta with Blackened Shrimp

April 15, 2014 by Ali

This asparagus-spinach pesto pasta is topped with simple blackened shrimp, and is my total kind of comfort food.

Asparagus-Spinach Pesto Pasta with Blackened Shrimp | #recipe

I probably should have poured a nice stiff drink recipe for you all on this loveliest of lovely tax days. Especially for my fellow small business owners who just gave half of their revenue back to the government. Good grief, I won’t even go there.

Instead though, I thought I’d offer my idea of a more comforting alternative.


When life is good, and when life gets crazy, I turn to pasta. And this pasta recipe is one of my all-time favs. I actually posted it on the blog about 4 years ago when I was a brand-spankin’ new blogger, and my photos were a lovely shade of neon. (Although the vivid green of the this pesto is arguably neon in real life!) But I’m trying to get in the habit of snapping new photos whenever I cook a really old blog recipe nowadays. And when I was feeling a little “green” after writing some ridiculously huge checks this week, I thought it only appropriate to celebrate with a wonderfully green and seasonal pasta.

And just as it has for years, this one hit the spot.

Asparagus-Spinach Pesto Pasta with Blackened Shrimp | #recipe

As the name suggests, the main ingredient in this beautiful pesto is asparagus.

Asparagus-Spinach Pesto Pasta with Blackened Shrimp | #recipe

Lots and lots of fresh, beautiful, in-season asparagus. I can’t get enough of it this year.

Asparagus-Spinach Pesto Pasta with Blackened Shrimp | #recipe

What I love about this specific asparagus pesto, though, is that it also sneaks in some spinach. Actually, quite a bit of spinach, which adds in all sorts of nutrients and also makes this pesto so vivid that it nearly glows.

Asparagus-Spinach Pesto Pasta with Blackened Shrimp | #recipe

Um, YUM.

Asparagus-Spinach Pesto Pasta with Blackened Shrimp | #recipe

So, once your pesto is ready and your pasta water is boiling, add in the pasta to start cooking while you saute up your shrimp. If you don’t want to use shrimp, you could sub in chicken or other veggies, or just eat the pesto pasta plain. But I first tried this pasta with blackened shrimp back in the day, and now I can’t imagine it any other way. Love me some blackened shrimp.

And as you can see, I douse my shrimp with blackening seasoning. The more of that stuff the merrier in my book.

Saute the shrimp up until they are cooked, then transfer them to a separate plate and give your pan a quick rinse.

Asparagus-Spinach Pesto Pasta with Blackened Shrimp | #recipe

Once the pasta is cooked to al dente, reserve a 1/2 cup of pasta water on the side. Then drain the pasta and then add it back to the saute pan. (Or you can do these next steps in the stockpot where you cooked the pasta.)

Asparagus-Spinach Pesto Pasta with Blackened Shrimp | #recipe

Add in that big glop of pesto, and stir it until it has coated the pasta evenly. If you feel that the pesto is too thick, just add in a little bit of pasta water at a time until it reaches your desired consistency.

Asparagus-Spinach Pesto Pasta with Blackened Shrimp | #recipe

Then toss those shrimp back in, along with the toasted pine nuts.

Asparagus-Spinach Pesto Pasta with Blackened Shrimp | #recipe

And sprinkle it all with a healthy helping of Parmesan cheese.

Asparagus-Spinach Pesto Pasta with Blackened Shrimp | #recipe

The serve it up!

Asparagus-Spinach Pesto Pasta with Blackened Shrimp | #recipe

Goodness, I just made this a week ago and I already want to make another batch. It is seriously that good.

Definitely the perfect comfort food for tax day…or any day that you’re craving some seriously good food. Enjoy!

Asparagus-Spinach Pesto Pasta with Blackened Shrimp | #recipe

Asparagus-Spinach Pesto Pasta with Blackened Shrimp

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes

Yield: 4-6 servings


    Pasta Ingredients:
  • 1 lb. (16 oz.) dried pasta (I used DeLallo whole wheat)
  • 1 lb. raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 2-3 Tbsp. blackening powder (use your favorite brand, or cajun seasoning, or this recipe here)
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
  • asparagus-spinach pesto (see ingredients below)
  • Asparagus-Spinach Pesto Ingredients:
  • 1 bunch asparagus spears (about 1 lb), ends trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 3 cups baby spinach leaves, loosely packed
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for topping
  • 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil


To Make The Pasta:

Cook the pasta in a large pot of salted water al dente according to package instructions.

Meanwhile, add the shrimp to a small bowl and toss with the blackening powder until covered. Heat olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add in the shrimp, and saute for 5 minutes, turning occasionally, until the shrimp are cooked through and pink and no longer translucent. Turn off the heat, and transfer shrimp to a separate plate and set aside.

When the pasta is al dente, reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water then drain the pasta. Return the pasta either to the stockpot where it was cooked, or to the saute pan (with the stove heat turned off). Add the pesto to the pasta, and toss until evenly coated, adding in a bit of the reserved pasta water if needed to thin the pasta. Then stir in the shrimp and pine nuts, and serve immediately sprinkled with some extra Parmesan cheese.

To Make The Pesto:

Fill a separate medium saucepan or stockpot with water, and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the asparagus spears and cook for 2-3 minutes, until the spears are bright green and barely tender. Remove the asparagus with a slotted spoon and transfer to a bowl filled with ice water to stop the cooking.

Add the asparagus, spinach, garlic, Parmesan, pine nuts, lemon juice and salt to the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Process until combined. Then, with the motor running, drizzle in the olive oil until it is incorporated. As mentioned above, if the pesto seems too thick, add in a bit of pasta water to thin it out.

Asparagus Spinach Pesto Pasta 6

About Ali

Ali Ebright is a freelance recipe developer and food writer/photographer, and blogs at Gimme Some Oven and Gimme Some Life. She also loves all things music, traveling near and far, actually making things from Pinterest, cozying up with a good book and her sweet pup, Henry, and spending time with a wonderful group of friends. Come say hello and follow Ali on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+ & Instagram.

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70 thoughts on “Asparagus-Spinach Pesto Pasta with Blackened Shrimp

  1. Making this for a second time tonight. First time I made it, turned out great, husband loves it. Wondering if it would freeze?

    - tawni

    • I don’t typically have great luck freezing pasta. :( But you can freeze the pesto, and cook the pasta and shrimp up when you’re ready to enjoy it. Best wishes!

      - Ali

  2. This was AMAZING! I’ve never made my own pesto before and I don’t have a food processor but I do have the little mini chopper that came with my immersion blender. This recipe looked so amazing that though I intended to use jarred pesto, I happened to have everything on hand to make this pesto and so I did … adding little by little to my mini chopper until it all came together. It was SO WORTH IT! Thanks for a delicious recipe and opening my eyes to home-made pesto!

    - Anna Davidoff

  3. This was delicious!

    - Kate

  4. Would this work successfully with basil instead of spinach?

    - Meghan

  5. Made this with blackened chicken instead of shrimp. It was wonderful!

    - Melissa

  6. Is there another nut to use instead of pine, or does that really make the recipe?

    - Hickory Nut

    • I just made this today for the first time and used sliced almonds because that’s what I had on hand. It was delicious! (I did not add additional almonds at the end though, just used it in the pesto.)

      - Anna Davidoff

    • I’m a big fan of pine nuts for this one since they are mild, but other nuts (especially walnuts) would also work well.

      - Ali

  7. I stumbled upon this recipe a few days ago and thought it looked amazing. I bought the ingredients this morning and made it for dinner tonight. It turned out sooooo great!! I loved every bite. I followed your recipe exactly, using your pesto sauce as well as the link for the blackening seasoning. Thank you so much for the recipe! I love, love, love it!

    - Stacy

  8. As an Italian, I’d suggest using fresh basil instead of spinach

    - Maria

  9. Oh my goodness. I can’t even stand how good this is looking to me right now!

    - ATasteOfMadness

  10. This is a brilliant combination of some of my favorite ingredients…delicious! I will definitely be trying this…thanks for sharing!

    - Jodee Weiland

  11. OMG, this is SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO good! Totally restaurant worthy, I am in heaven, it’s just that good! Easy to make and will totally wow anyone who tastes it!

    - Denise

  12. This sounds incredible and looks gorgeous. Love this!

    - Norma @ Allspice and Nutmeg

  13. This looks incredible! I’m totally pinning this one to make later! :)

    - Shawn @ I Wash You Dry

  14. This dish looks elegant. That is probably because shrimp was always such a luxury for the first third of my life. I love the spring green color. I discovered the goodness of pesto just a few years ago. There’s nothing like making your own.

    - Carol at Wild Goose Tea

  15. The perfect introduction into spring!

    - Nicole ~ Cooking for Keeps

  16. Oh my goodness I really want this for dinner tonight!! Mmmm!

    - Jenny Flake

  17. This recipe looks and sounds like heaven. It’s so rare that I find a recipe that I don’t almost completely tweak to my own liking, but this one…I wouldn’t change a single thing about this recipe. I’m going to have to get right on top of making this…talk about some of my favorite ingredients ever! YUM! Thank you for sharing this delightful recipe.

    That Comfort Girl

    - Kaysha Comfort

  18. I love everyone of these ingredients in this recipe! This looks and sounds amazing! Pinned!

    - Sommer @ASpicyPerspective

  19. Oh it really looks and sounds like comfort food!

    - Medeja

  20. Seriously totes amazeballs :)

    - Gerry @ foodness gracious

  21. I love the bright vivid colors! I’ve never heard of blackening seasoning, but it sounds wonderful, gotta go find some!

    - sue/the view from great island

  22. Get out of here with your beautiful food processor shot! “Hey jealousy…”

    Just kidding! This looks delicious! Love your new photos – they make me happy, which is a difficult feat today of all days ;-)

    - Lindsey @ American Heritage Cooking

  23. I have been thinking of this pasta all day!! Looks soooo good and wish it was dinner!

    - Aggie

  24. I have no words, this recipe looks absolutely incredible! I just enjoyed a big bowl of warm pasta last night, it is definitely comfort food.

    Peace & Sunshine,
    Sammi at Sammi Sunshine- A Food Blog

    - Sammi @Sammi Sunshine

  25. So much deliciousness in one pan! Goodness gracious I love everything from the asparagus spinach pesto to the blackened shrimp! Gorgeous!

    - Laurie {Simply Scratch}

  26. Well this is one way to forget about tax day! Love all of the pine nuts too!

    - Liz @ The Lemon Bowl

  27. ALI!!! I just absolutely love the photos and this recipe, I need this in my life ASAP! You also totally made me smile…I turn to pasta in good time and bad too, total comfort food favorite :)

    - Phi @ The Sweetphi Blog

  28. I love pesto with pasta! This dish looks perfect for a Spring brunch!

    - Anna @ Crunchy Creamy Sweet

  29. Gorgeous, love the pesto and blackened shrimp!

    - Laura (Tutti Dolci)

  30. Wonderful! Of course, anything with shrimp can’t be bad!

    - Arthur in the Garden!

  31. Beautiful photos! We are having dinner guests this week and I have been struggling to decide what to make. I think I just figured it out!

    - Annie @Maebells

  32. This pesto is brilliant. I’ll take a big ol’ bowl of this pasta.

    - Jennie @themessybakerblog

  33. That pesto….swoon!! Totally in love with this!

    - Lauren

  34. Can’t wait to make this again…so yummy and comforting and GREEN!

    - Ali's Mom

  35. Here let me just wipe this drool off of my keyboard….. Okay now I can tell you that this looks like a bowl of heaven! Love pasta, love pesto, love it all!

    - Tiffany@CremdelaCrumb

  36. This looks so good! I love love love pesto pastas, they are my favourite. Will definitely have to give this a try. Your photos are beautiful too.

    - Rebecca @ it's a nourishing thing

  37. I love asparagus pesto and blackened shrimp. This is beautiful!

    - Tieghan

  38. Completely agree with you: pasta can be just as good as a stiff drink when it comes to comfort. And adding asparagus to pesto? Genius

    - Mariana @The Candid Kitchen

  39. Tax day IS THE WORST.

    - Claire Gallam

  40. This is BEAUTIFUL! Want, want, want!

    - Marie @ Little Kitchie

  41. Lemme just saw WOW.
    I was looking for a good recipie since I had a bunch of shrimp I needed to use. This was so yummy and made really good leftovers too! May even experiment with chicken next time I’m short on shrimp. Also used rice pasta.
    I didn’t use all the Parmesan cheese though. I used 1/2 a cup and the pesto was still really cheesy. It was perfect and SO much better than store bought icky pesto. I was so proud of myself for making the pesto myself!
    My husband even asked me this morning, when are you going to make that shrimp pesto stuff again? LOL!

    - Hayley

  42. I think it would be delicious without the shrimp personally.

    - anyalatte

  43. This looks like it’s worth making. Hope it doesn’t take too long.

    - Catina Eplin

  44. Tasty! I made this tonight with my new food processor, and I’m excited to integrate it into my repertoire. It’s a great asparagus fix that doesn’t trigger my companion’s distaste for the vegetable. I doubled the garlic ‘cuz that’s just my way. I plan to eat it tomorrow with fresh tomato and kalamatas. And I’m thinking I’ll do a future version topped with sun-dried tomatoes. Really though, the bit I ate tonight with the pesto: sooo good.


  45. A musician that loves to cook? Please marry me! :)

    - Michael

  46. This pasta recipe looks yummy!
    Thank you for posting.

    Greetings from Germany.


  47. Just made this last night- was AMAZING!

    - Stephanie

  48. Please, how do I just get the recipe without all the commentary???? It takes five pages to print – half of which I don’t need. Duh????? I am sorry, please make it simple.

    Thank you.

    - Phoebe

    • Hey Phoebe! Sorry about that. If you look under “Ali’s Tip” and see the “Share and Enjoy” buttons, click the print button on the very left. It’ll size things down for you. And then if you’d like even more, click the “remove images” tab within that new screen that pops up. Should put it all on one page.


      - ali

  49. Seriously good. Like, seriously good. Totally worth the effort with the pesto.

    - AliWell

  50. what a great recipe! like Spring in the dead of Wintertime — I used shrimp and it was fantastic — will also use chicken with the leftover pesto (which I froze for later) — used just a little bit of lemon zest for garnish. delicious.

    also didn’t have garlic powder on hand, so I fried two additional cloves of chunked garlic in the oil that I was gonna use for the shrimp over low heat — skimmed out the fried garlic and used as garnish for finished dish, and cooked shrimp in the garlic oil. ungh! so good. THANKS.

    - Hogan

  51. Commenting usually isnt my thing, but ive spent an hour on the site, so thanks for the info

    Greetings from Tim. :)

    - electric grill

  52. I found your blog through Tasty Kitchen and I feel like I’ve found a goldmine of amazing recipes, not to mention that your food photography is beyond fantastic. This shrimp dish sounds incredible – just the type of pasta dish I love. Thanks for the recipe!

    - Melanie

  53. Yum – the asparagus-spinach pesto sounds marvelous. Paired with the shrimp, this dish sounds irresistable!

    - Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction