Pesto Orzo with Shrimp

Pesto is such a fresh vibrant way to perk up a pasta dish.  I especially love the combination with seafood as well.

I adore winter, but I long for the fresh summer flavors during the drearier months.  Sometimes I look out of my kitchen window and long to have my hands in the dirt tending to my garden.  The smell of the earth, reaping the benefits of all my hard work....  I'm getting antsy.

This dish was really inspired by my love for the spring and all the freshness that is promised with it.  And even though I have a couple more weeks before I can get anything in the ground, dishes like this can transport you with one spoonful.

This pesto is so versatile and you will find yourself making it and piling it on crostinis, roasted vegetables, raviolis and so much more.  Honestly, I could eat it by the spoonful.

Transport yourself to sunny spring with the succulent shrimp and vibrant pesto.  It's pretty damn awesome.

Spinach Walnut Pesto Orzo with Shrimp & Peas

Prep Time:  15 minutes
Cook Time:  20 minutes
Serves:  4

Ingredients:

2 cups fresh baby spinach 
1 1/2 cup fresh basil, hard stems removed
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil (may not use all)
1/3 cup freshly grated parmesan
1/2 cup toasted walnuts
1 clove of garlic
salt and pepper to taste
2 TBSP butter
1 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined (I used large)
1 cup of frozen peas
1 small onion, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
3/4 box of orzo
Parmesan for garnish

Method:

FOR PESTO:

Using a food processor or blender, add 1 clove of garlic and pulse until chopped.  Add fresh spinach, basil, parmesan and toasted walnuts.  Pulse until a thick paste.  Slowly drizzle in olive oil until a creamy pesto consistency is achieved.  Taste and add salt and pepper.  Pulse to combine.  Set aside.

FOR SHIRMP/PEAS/PASTA:

Bring large pot of water to a boil.  Salt liberally and add orzo.

In a large skillet, heat 2 TBSP of butter over medium heat.  Add onion and garlic and saut√© until translucent.  Add shrimp and cook bout 2 minutes on each side.  Add peas and heat through.  

Drain pasta reserving 1/4 cup of pasta water.

Add orzo to shrimp and pea mixture and toss to combine.  Spoon in the pesto, adding a little pasta water if you need to thin the mixture.  

Taste again for salt and pepper.

Garnish with more parm and basil.

As always, get your asses in the kitchen!!


Krissi Biasiello is a native of South Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  Cooking since she was a little girl with her large Italian family, she decided to leave her paralegal job and shoot for the stars on FOX’s cooking competition show, MasterChef.  She beat out 43,000 homecooks across America and came in 4th place.  Under the scrutiny of Gordon Ramsay, Graham Elliot and Joe Bastianich, Krissi has made her mark in the culinary world.  She now shares her recipes with all of you!  Her rustic, homestyle take on everything will win you over and will definitely “get your asses in the kitchen”.
To contact Krissi for appearances, in-home demonstrations, catering and more, you can find her below. 

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