Healthy Whole Wheat Shrimp Pesto Pasta

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Having easy recipes on hand for busy weeknights is a must in my house! One of my favorite go-to recipes is whole wheat shrimp pesto pasta. I add in extra vegetables and use whole grain pasta to create a satisfying and healthy meal. I love playing around with the ingredients based upon what I have in my fridge. My kale pesto with shrimp and whole wheat pasta is going to be your new favorite recipe, and I bet even your picky eaters will be all about this healthy one pot meal.


Image Credit: Leigh Ann Chatagnier

To cut calories, I omitted cheese from the pesto and added in kale for extra nutrients. In the past, I have also swapped the whole grain pasta for a rice pasta to make this whole meal gluten free. Feel free to make this recipe your own based upon your family's tastebuds and dietary needs!


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Things You'll Need

  • 1 pound whole wheat pasta (substitute rice pasta for a gluten free version)

  • 1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined

  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves

  • 2 cups kale, stems removed and washed thoroughly (substitute spinach, if you prefer)

  • 1 garlic clove

  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil + 2 tablespoons

  • 1/4 cup pecans (substitute almonds or pine nuts if you prefer)

  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt + extra for pasta water

  • 1 teaspoon cracked black pepper

  • 1/2 cup frozen peas

  • 1/4 cup sliced sun-dried tomatoes

Image Credit: Leigh Ann Chatagnier


A traditional pesto has Parmesan cheese, however I omitted it for a calorie saver. Feel free to add it in if you prefer. You can also substitute spinach for the kale and swap the nuts if you so desire.

Step 1: Make the pesto.

Combine 1 cup of basil, 1 cup of kale, 1 garlic clove, 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, pecans, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper in a food processor or blender and blend until smooth. Add more olive oil if needed for consistency.


Image Credit: Leigh Ann Chatagnier

Step 2: Bring water to a boil and cook pasta.

Bring a large pot of water to a rapid boil. Add a good handful of salt to flavor the pasta water and then add in the pasta. Cook according to directions on the package. Before draining your pasta, be sure to reserve 1/2 cup of pasta water to add to your sauce.


Step 3: Cook the shrimp.

While the pasta is cooking, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to a large skillet and heat over medium heat. Add the shrimp and season with the rest of the salt and pepper on both sides. Let the shrimp cook for 2 to 3 minutes per side until pink. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Image Credit: Leigh Ann Chatagnier

Step 4: Sauté remaining kale and peas.

Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the pan and add in the remaining kale. Cook for about 5 minutes until the kale is wilted and then add in the sun-dried tomatoes along with the shrimp back to the pan. Stir to combine ingredients and add in frozen peas for the last couple of minutes of cooking, just to heat through.



Step 5: Drain the pasta and add to the pan.

Drain the pasta, reserving the 1/2 cup of pasta water and add the pasta to the shrimp and kale. Add all of the pesto in at this time along with half of the reserved pasta water. Stir to combine adding more pasta water if needed to create a nice sauce.

Image Credit: Leigh Ann Chatagnier

Step 6: Serve.

After the sauce has been well combined and all ingredients are coated with the pesto, serve and enjoy!


Image Credit: Leigh Ann Chatagnier

Be prepared to get yourself a second helping of this one! This recipe is easy, delicious, and made with nothing but good for you ingredients. Enjoy!


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