Chef Jamie's Penne with Spicy Shrimp, Asparagus & Basil Pistachio Pesto

May 17, 2013

A beautiful spring meal!

Chef Jamie says: Asparagus are bountiful right now, pistachios make pesto perfectly delicious and the shrimp round out this spring meal beautifully. Pour a lively Italian Pinot Grigio to cut through the pesto's richness and complement its herbal and nutty flavors.
This recipe serves 4.

Ingredients for the Pesto:
1 cup fresh basil leaves, packed
1/4 cup baby spinach leaves (the spinach keeps the pesto green!)
1 garlic clove, roasted or raw
1/4 cup pistachios, toasted
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Ingredients for the Shrimp:
16 large shrimp, peeled and deveined
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound penne rigate (the little lines hold the sauce!)
1 bunch asparagus, bottoms trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
Mascarpone cheese (optional)
Parmesan cheese
To make the pesto, combine the basil, spinach, garlic, pistachios and cheese in the food processor and process to combine well. 
Slowly drizzle in the olive oil to create a pesto. Season with salt and pepper.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Season with salt. Cook the pasta in the salted water to the desired doneness. 
Once cooked, remove the pasta with a strainer, reserving the pasta water. 
Place the pot back on the stove and blanch the asparagus until just tender. 
Remove the asparagus and discard all but 1/2 cup of the pasta water (reserving it for the sauce).

To make the shrimp, toss the shrimp with the lemon juice, lemon zest and red pepper flakes and season with salt and pepper. 
Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. 
Once hot, add the shrimp and cook for 2 to 3 minutes or until pink and just firm. Set aside.

Place the cooked pasta and asparagus back in the empty pot and add the Pesto along with enough of the reserved pasta water to coat the pasta well. Adjust the seasoning. 
Pour the pasta onto a serving platter and top with the spicy shrimp. 
Garnish each plate with a dollop of Mascarpone cheese, to mix in, if desired. 
Garnish with additional grated Parmesan cheese.
Jamie Gwen is a Celebrity Chef, Certified Sommelier, Lifestyle Expert and four-time Cookbook Author.For the past 13 years, she has brought the best to radio with her weekly Live Radio Show filled with delicious conversation, heard every Sunday from 8:00am to 10:00am on KFWB News Talk 980 in Southern California and heard worldwide on iTunes and the Internet.

Jamie can also be heard on Martha Stewart Living Radio on Sirius/XM and she can be seen stirring up something delicious on television shows and in print nationwide.
Jamie’s most recent cookbook entitled “Good Food For Good Times 2” is now available as an eBook and has been featured on Emeril Live, Martha Stewart and QVC. She is a graduate of The Culinary Institute of America and her website,, is a scrumptious resource for food lovers everywhere.

Recipe Courtesy of Jamie Gwen, 2013