This bowl of Cajun Garlic Butter Shrimp with Creamy Pesto Pasta is THE best any night of the week winter pasta. Taking a classic pesto pasta recipe and updating it with a no-cream, creamy pesto sauce, spicy garlic shrimp, and fresh greens. Every twirl of pasta has delicious and comforting fresh flavors that melt in your mouth. This is such a cozy, creamy bowl of shrimp and pasta.
I was going to share another recipe today, but I’m so excited about this pasta that I just had to share it. Sometimes recipes take a long time to think up. Sometimes they take a long time to fully develop, but this was quick and easy. I got the idea to make a spicy, cajun-style shrimp pasta. But instead of making it super creamy and heavy, I wanted to make it with some more wholesome ingredients.
I made a few simple and easy swaps. The I added in so much color, plus some crispy, spicy shrimp, and my favorite homemade pesto pasta.
This dish comes together in minutes and it really is so delicious.
The details on the pasta
I like to start with the pasta since the shrimp cooks up so quickly. I made my favorite basil pesto. The secret is to use a little jalapeño for an unexpected but delicious spicy kick. I know it sounds odd with all these Italian flavors, but if you love a Greek goddess style dressing, you’ll love this pesto. It’s very similar.
I like to toss in some arugula in addition to the basil. This adds vibrant color, flavor, and some much needed healthy greens!
When the pesto is made, boil up your favorite cut of pasta. I really like using a longer cut…fettuccini or bucatini are my usual go-to’s. But something short-cut, like bow ties, is great with the shrimp too. You really can’t go wrong.
Add the hot pasta right back to that pot you boiled it in, then add all the pesto, and a splash of creamy coconut milk. The coconut milk helps to create a luscious sauce without adding in any cream. You don’t taste even the slightest hint of coconut!
That spicy shrimp
I usually cook the shrimp while the pasta is boiling. It takes just a few minutes, so the timing is perfect.
The shrimp is pan seared in olive oil with cajun seasonings until both sides are browned. I love to make my own homemade cajun spice mix, but if you’re in a pinch, store-bought works too. Add a small pat of butter and a squeeze of lemon. They go a long way flavor-wise, especially with all the spices and garlic. Everything pairs so well together.
To serve, I usually plate the pasta, then spoon the shrimp and any sauce left in the skillet over the noodles. This gives a nice, pretty presentation! Or, you can do it like my dad and simply toss everything together. Keep it simple.
Either way, is so good. Both the shrimp and pasta have so much flavor on their own. But put them together and you create a wonderfully delicious pasta plate.
Looking for other fresh takes on pasta? Here are my favorites:
Lastly, if you make this Cajun Garlic Butter Shrimp with Creamy Pesto Pasta, be sure to leave a comment and/or give this recipe a rating! Above all, I love to hear from you guys and always do my best to respond to each and every comment. And of course, if you do make this recipe, don’t forget to tag me on Instagram! Looking through the photos of recipes you all have made is my favorite!
Cajun Garlic Butter Shrimp with Creamy Pesto Pasta
Calories Per Serving: 399 kcal
Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.
- 1 1/2 cups fresh basil
- 1 cup baby arugula
- 1 jalapeño, seeded, if desired
- 4 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1/4 cup toasted nuts
- 1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese, or nutritional yeast
- 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 pound pasta
- 1 tablespoon salted butter
- 1 1/2 pounds raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 1 tablespoon cajun seasoning
- juice from 1 lemon
- 1/4-1/3 cup canned full fat coconut milk (or milk of choice)
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- 1. To make the pesto. In a food processor, combine the basil, arugula, jalapeño, 1 clove of garlic, the nuts, parmesan, and 1/4 cup olive oil. Season with salt. Pulse until a sauce forms, adding 1-2 tablespoons water if needed to thin.2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook according to package directions until al dente. Just before draining, remove 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water. Drain and add the pasta right back into the hot pot.3. Add the pesto and coconut milk, tossing to combine. Thin the pasta as desired with the reserved pasta cooking water. 4. Meanwhile, make the shrimp. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the butter, shrimp, cajun seasonings, and a big pinch of pepper. Cook on both sides until seared, about 2-3 minutes per side. Stir in the garlic, cook until fragrant. Remove from the heat, stir in the lemon juice. 5. Toss the shrimp with the pasta. Grab a fork and enjoy!