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Asparagus-Spinach Pesto Pasta with Blackened Shrimp

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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

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Asparagus-Spinach Pesto Pasta with Blackened Shrimp

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 5 from 5 reviews
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 4-6 servings 1x


This asparagus-spinach pesto pasta is fresh and full of great greens, and topped with zesty blackened shrimp.



Pasta Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. (16 oz.) dried pasta (I used DeLallo whole wheat)
  • 1 lb. raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 23 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:

  1. Cook the pasta in a large pot of generously-salted water al dente according to package instructions.
  2. 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.
  3. 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.


Adapted from Simply Recipes and 101 Cookbooks.

Asparagus Spinach Pesto Pasta 6

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79 comments on “Asparagus-Spinach Pesto Pasta with Blackened Shrimp”

  1. This was delicious!

  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!

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

    • 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!

  4. I have made this twice, once with shrimp and once with chicken. I loved it! I had never had pesto before or heard of blackening powder. The pesto and blackening powder are now two of my favorite things to use or add in when cooking, delicious!

  5. My family loved this Pesto made with Asparagus and Shrimp made pasta.  Thanks!

  6. I made this tonight and it was fantastic! The only difference I made was adding sun dried tomatoes, and kept some of the asparagus pieces whole and added them to the pasta. I also drizzled a little extra lemon juice over the finished product. One of the best dishes I’ve ever made!

  7. Could you use a blender instead of a food processor?

  8. This looks amazing! Is there something I can sub for the pinenuts in the pesto?

  9. We made this after doing a “shrimp pasta” search on Pinterest. It looked beautiful but the concept sounded a little dubious — what if asparagus-spinach pesto wasn’t anywhere near as good as it looked?? I mean, asparagus and spinach? People, it was INCREDIBLE. We doctored it up just slightly by adding chopped sundried tomatoes and didn’t wind up using all of the pesto with our 1 lb of pasta (I think we used half). But it was fantastic and so worth the risk of scary-sounding ingredients. Will definitely make this again… and even try to slip these veggies past the kids next time.

    • Nicki, we’re thrilled that you loved the asparagus spinach pesto! Thanks for giving it a chance! : ) Also, we think the addition of sundried tomatoes sounds awesome. So glad you enjoyed it!

  10. This looks delicious. Have you ever served it cold or at room temperature for a picnic or potluck?

    • Thanks Kate! We haven’t — which isn’t to say it wouldn’t be good cold or at room temperature. We hope you enjoy!

  11. This is an AMAZING recipe! Wow Ali, thank you for sharing such a FANTASTIC idea with all of us!
    What you did with the asparagus was really creative and new! Loved it!

    Greetings from Athens, Panos and Mirella

  12. What about nutritional information? Can you tell us the amount of calories per serving?

    • Hi Jo! We’re sorry but we are unsure of the nutrition facts/amount of calories in this recipe. We currently are not publishing nutrition facts on the site, as the nutrition calculators available are not 100% accurate, and we never want to publish anything that might be misleading. However, a lot of our readers love the My Fitness Pal nutrition calculator, so feel free to try that for an estimate. We hope that helps!

  13. I understand, thanks!!

  14. This dish looks fabulous! For more healthy and nutrition food recipes videos and “Weight Loss Challenge Tips “please clicks on this link….

  15. Is a fabulous dish, even with the changes I made! Hubby doesn’t do garlic, so left it out. I don’t do blackened, so just salt and pepper on the shrimp. I also did not cook the asparagus. (I got distracted) Used brown rice/quinoa fusilli. Had company for dinner everyone LOVED it! Even hubby, who also doesn’t like anything green. Will make again soon.

  16. awesome and delicious

  17. 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

  18. So, I know this defeats the purpose of a pasta salad, but for anyone else trying to cut carbs, but who wants to try this, I replaced the pasta with another bunch of asparagus, 2 zucchini and some butternut squash roasted, and tossed that in the pesto sauce and it was delicious!!

  19. So good! My pasta indifferent husband requested this be put into our dinner repertoire.