Fettuccine and Shrimp with Arugula Pesto Cream Sauce. Does that sound like date night restaurant food, or what?! Here’s the thing – it’s so ridicuously easy, you can whip up this dinner in about 30 minutes, and no one has to know you didn’t slave at the stove.
Pesto is one of those condiment-foods that I love, but I can only take in very small amounts. It packs so much flavor into each spoonful, that less is definitely more. I love to brush a bit on chicken or salmon before grilling it, and pesto, fresh tomato, and buffalo mozzarella is my favorite summer grilled pizza. Too much pesto, however gets too basil-y and pine nutty too fast for me. So I decided to experiment a bit with other greens to soften the intense basil flavor, and other nuts to replace the pine nuts. AAANNNDD…
This arugula pesto is my new favorite thing. Lightly basil-y, slightly nutty, and pumped up with lotsa cruciferous greens from the arugula, and omega-3 fat from walnuts. Total hit at the dinner table, and full of good-for-you ingredients too. I was a little bit afraid the arugula would be too peppery, but it’s perfect.
I also realized as I was making this recipe, that shrimp don’t get enough love. We all know fish is good for us, but I’m guessing when most of us think of fish, we think salmon. Or maybe swordfish or tuna, but shrimp are SO easy! Get the kind that are in the shell, but say “easy peel”. They’re all cleaned and deveined, and the shell is split open for you, so all you have to do is pop it off.
Shrimp is a great source of protein, and incredibly low in calories. One large shrimp has – ready for this, 5 calories! Plus, they literally cook in seconds – remove them from the heat as soon as they turn pink, or they get tough and rubbery. Maybe that’s why they don’t get enough love…?
Here’s the other great thing about this dish – no vegetable sides are needed (unless you want them, of course, and that’s always a good thing) because they’re already in the sauce. I was kind of stressing about the lack of a side salad as I was serving this, and then I remembered the 3 cups of arugula I packed into my food processor, and the fresh basil, and the chopped tomatoes. Not quite a one-pan meal, but close, because you’ve got all your necessary food groups and you really only need one pan to make this.
If it’s still snowy and winter-like in your part of the world, make some of this arugula pesto – it smells and looks just like spring!
- 1 cup lightly packed fresh basil leaves stems removed
- 3 cups lightly packed arugula
- 4 medium cloves garlic
- 1 cup walnuts
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- salt to taste
- 16 ounces fettuccine or other pasta
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 pound large shrimp, shelled and deveined
- 1/2 cup whipping cream
- 4 Roma tomatoes, diced
Combine the basil, arugula, garlic, walnuts, olive oil, Parmesan cheese, and lemon juice in the bowl of a food processor, and process until fairly smooth. Scrape down the sides with a spatula to make sure everything is combined. Transfer the pesto to a bowl or large measuring cup. Set the pesto aside.
Fill a stockpot with water and the salt, and bring it to a boil. Add pasta, and cook until just al dente.
Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water, and drain the pasta. Set it aside in the colander. Pour about 1/2 cup of the reserved pasta water into the pesto, and stir to combine.
Return the pot to the stove, and heat the oil over medium high heat. Add the shrimp to the pan in a single layer, and flip them over in about 20 seconds. As soon as they are pink, add the cream to the pan and reduce the heat to medium.
Add about 2 tablespoons of the pesto to the shrimp and cream, and stir it in. Then stir the remainder of the pesto into the shrimp.
Add the cooked pasta to the shrimp and pesto cream sauce and stir to combine. If necessary, add additional pasta water to thin the sauce.
Mix the diced tomatoes into the pasta.
Do you like regular basil pesto? Have you ever tried adding arugula or any other leafy greens to your pesto?