There are several things we could say and then just stop and you’d of course run to the kitchen with no explanation because YUM. Like, “creamy parmesan risotto” or “tender, juicy, garlic & lemon marinated jumbo shrimp” or “pan-seared and draped in a bright lush pesto.”
But honestly, what if all of that was part of the same dish and you were already head over heels about it?
It’s true, it’s true. The risotto is tender and rich and feels so special, the subtly sweet perfection of the quick marinated shrimp is sealed in with a golden brown sear. The pesto, oh the pesto…fresh, zippy, full of warm summer basil flavor. This one’s a treat.
In This Post: Everything You Need For Pesto Shrimp
Ingredients You’ll Need For This Pesto Shrimp and Parm Risotto
Lots of simple yet strong flavors here to bring this gem together. You just know when you see a list including butter, garlic, Parmesan, and pesto that you are in for a REAL FUN JOURNEY AHEAD. Here’s what you’re grabbing for this:
fresh juicy tomatoes (Roma or beefsteak are great)
fresh herbs for topping
The white wine offers a slight acidic element to balance the richness of your risotto, enhancing the flavor. But if you’re looking to skip it, you can just replace it with more broth plus a little lemon juice.
Sometimes people will also use unsweetened white grape or apple juice with a splash of citrus, a splash of apple cider vinegar, or white/red wine vinegar in place of wine in a recipe like this.
Let’s Get Cooking
There are a few steps to this one and though it is still quite simple, we’re dealing with risotto here, so speed isn’t the name of the game.
Marinate. Place the shrimp, garlic, 1 tablespoon olive oil, salt, and lemon zest in a bowl or plastic bag. Mix it all together so the shrimp is soaking up every bit of that flavor goodness. An hour or more is ideal but if you at least get it going while you cook your risotto, you’re still golden.
Risotto. Melt the butter in a large nonstick skillet and then sauté the garlic/shallots until soft and fragrant. Add the arborio rice, and stir to coat with butter. Splash in your white wine for sizzle time and then add your broth and play the stir-simmer-repeat game for a bit until soft and creamy. Finish with Parmesan, salt, and pepp.
Pesto Shrimp: Heat your skillet and olive oil over medium-high heat (if you’re using nonstick). Toss your shrimp and cook for a couple minutes per side, depending on their size. In the last minute or so of cooking, start brushing on that beautiful DeLallo pesto to coat the shrimp (don’t do this too early – we want to preserve that peak pesto yumminess!)
Then you’ll pile those juicy seared pesto shrimp on your bed of risotto. Add some bright pops of chopped fresh tomatoes and herbs, one more lemon squeezer across the top, and you are basically royalty. SO GOOD.
Different Ways To Cook Shrimp For This Recipe
Because we love the little, like, flavor seal™️ that the direct heat creates for the shrimp & pesto situation, our preferred methods for cooking the shrimp here are:
pan-fried in a nonstick skillet: That’s what we did here and it’s very, very simple.
grilled on a skewer: Grill weather abounds now, so you could also sear these jumbo beauties that way. Maybe you want to poke some cute little cherry tomatoes on there while you’re at it? We can’t imagine that would disappoint!
Poaching is also definitely an option if that is your preferred method! We just can’t get enough of that sear over here though.
What To Look For When Buying Pesto
Have you met our truest best friend of pastas and jarred sauces, DeLallo? What dreamboats they are. Just, they never disappoint!
Sometimes jarred pestos can be kind of overly creamy and a dullish green, which can feel a little meh when you are hoping for wow. But DeLallo’s jarred pesto is much brighter, fresher, less creamy, and the flavor is definitely very wow.
It uses handpicked basil, olive oil, crunchy pine nuts & cashews, garlic, Pecorino Romano AND Parmigiano-Reggiano cheeses, so HELLO FLAVOR PARADE! Def recommend getting a few jars of this on hand for yourself.
And because pesto doesn’t require any kind of cooking/heating, it really, really is best to just use at the very end of cooking to maximize all of its fresh flavors!
Instead, just a hefty swath over that hot seared shrimp and all that olive oil, bright fresh basil, zippy garlic, creamy pine nut, and Parmesan flavor just soars into your hearts and tastebuds.
Things To Serve With This Pesto Shrimp
We really, really recommend the MEGA yummy Parmesan risotto here. We used the authentic Italian arborio rice from DeLallo and it really just makes this dish. There’s nothing like it!
Other options for serving, if you’re wanting to play a game of mix-and-match with this meal, include:
1–2roma, beefsteak, or any kind of fresh juicy tomatoes, chopped
herbs for topping
Marinate the Shrimp: Place the shrimp, garlic, 1 tablespoon olive oil, salt, and lemon zest in a bowl or plastic bag. Mix it all together so the shrimp is coated with all that flavor goodness. Stick it back in the fridge to let it marinate while you make the risotto (for about 1 hour, if you can).
Make the Risotto: In a large non-stick skillet over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the garlic or shallots and saute for a minute or two, until soft and fragrant.
Add the arborio rice, stir to coat with butter. Add the white wine and enjoy the sizzles. Add the broth, 1/2 cup at a time, and simmer/stir after each addition until the rice is soft and creamy.
When the risotto is done, add the Parmesan and stir until incorporated. Add truffle oil if you want (omg it’s so good). Salt + pepp to taste.
Make the Pesto Shrimp: Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat (I use nonstick for this). Add the shrimp and cook for 2-3 minutes on each side, depending on their size. Brush the cooked shrimp with the pesto for the last 60 seconds or so of cooking.
Serve risotto topped with those juicy pesto shrimp. Speckle some chopped fresh tomatoes around in there and top with herbs or something delicate and green (I used microgreens in the photo). Salt, pepper, a little more lemon juice and you’re in a very happy place.