This Cilantro Lime Pasta with Shrimp is what happens when two amazing food cultures collide!! The hearty, rich flavors of Italian cooking and the fresh, vibrant flavors of Thai food! Quick, easy and bursting with flavor, you can have the best of both worlds all on one plate!
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I worked in San Francisco during the early 2000’s during the dot.com era (man, those were good days….). Anyhoo, “fusion” food was popping up ALL over the SF restaurant scene and it was ABSOLUTELY the “it” thing! Especially Asian Fusion.
Well, I fell HARD and jumped on the fusion bandwagon and have not abandoned it since! I mean, why enjoy the flavors of just ONE country when you could enjoy TWO?!!! Exactly.
I developed this recipe to combine my pasta (Italian food) obsession with my Thai food obsession! It’s roughly half Italian (think: pasta, Parmesan cheese, basil) and half Thai-inspired flavors (think: lime, cilantro, peanuts).
This combination works SO WELL! Pair it with a nice Pinot Grigio (see my wine reccos here), and enjoy the best flavors of two countries!
WHY YOU’LL LOVE THIS RECIPE
- Combines flavors from two amazing cuisines: Italian and Thai!
- You can whip this up in less than 30 minutes.
- The cilantro pesto is nut free for anyone with nut allergies (you can add peanuts on top).
You’ll need the following ingredients to make this delicious Cilantro Lime Pasta with Shrimp:
Shrimp: I use 21-30 count shrimp (I like my shrimp big!), but feel free to use whatever size you like!
Pasta: I like spaghetti or linguine for this dish because I feel like the pesto adheres to it so well and gives that “Thai noodle” feel. But you can use whatever kind you have on hand.
Coconut Milk: This is totally optional and only if you need to thin out pesto a bit. You can also just use a splash of pasta water.
HOW TO MAKE CILANTRO LIME PASTA WITH SHRIMP: STEP BY STEP
Here are some quick visual instructions. Remember that full instructions with exact ingredients will be in the recipe card below!
Step 1: Boil up your pasta according to al dente package directions (for example if it says boil for 10-12 minutes, boil pasta on the lower end of the range for 10 minutes). Reserve 1/4 cup of pasta water.
Step 2: While pasta is boiling cook up your shrimp (about 1-2 minutes each side).
Step 3: Then, whip up your cilantro pesto! It’s super easy and takes less than 5 minutes! NO CHOPPING required!
Step 4: Drain pasta and return to hot pan. Over lowest heat, add in pesto and shrimp. Add a splash (a tablespoon or so) of coconut milk or pasta water if it seems too thick.
Step 5: Toss everything together. Taste, and season with salt, if necessary. Top with peanuts, red pepper flakes, Parmesan cheese and a squeeze of lime juice, if you like!
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. You can reheat it in the microwave or in pan. I like to add a little lime juice and extra pesto (if you have it) to the dish when I am reheating it.
I truly feel like this dish stands alone and you don’t need to have any sides with it! A nice Pinot Grigio is all you need! 🙂 See all my inexpensive wine reccos here.
RECIPE TIPS & TRICKS
- In my mind, you don’t have a nut allergy, the peanuts on top are A MUST! Totally gives that “Thai flair” to the dish, so don’t leave them if you don’t have to! Also a good squeeze of lime over the pasta is delish too–don’t skip it!
- Make a double batch of the cilantro pesto, if you have a big enough food processor! It will keep for up to 7 days in an airtight container in the fridge and you can use it for other pasta dishes like this Quick & Easy Tuna Pesto Pasta or this Creamy Pesto Gnocchi with Lemon!
- I like to reserve a little of the pesto to use for leftovers. When reheating leftovers, add a dollop of the reserved pesto to freshen up the dish!
- If you leave the shrimp out, this makes a great little side dish or pasta “appetizer!” I like throwing in some cherry tomatoes to replace the shrimp.
OTHER PASTA RECIPES YOU’LL LOVE
- CREAMY TAHINI PASTA WITH LEMON AND GARLIC
- EASY SHRIMP YAKI UDON
- CHICKEN PASTA WITH CHIPOTLE CREAM SAUCE
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Cilantro Lime Pasta with Shrimp
For the Cilantro Pesto
- 4 cups cilantro leaves and stems
- 1 cup basil leaves
- 2 tbsp lime juice about 2 limes
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 cup olive oil
For the pasta
- 1 lb. spaghetti or your favorite pasta
- 1 lb. shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- 1 tbsp full fat coconut milk or 1 tbsp pasta cooking liquid optional
- crushed peanuts, lime wedges, red pepper flakes (for garnish)
- Boil up your pasta according to al dente package directions (for example if it says boil for 10-12 minutes, boil pasta on the lower end of the range for 10 minutes). Reserve 1/4 cup of pasta water.
- While pasta is boiling, cook up your shrimp. Sprinkle shrimp with 1/4 tsp garlic powder, 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper. In a pan over medium high heat, cook shrimp 1-2 minutes on each side until cooked through. Transfer to a plate, cover and set aside.
- Make the pesto: In a food processor or blender, add cilantro, basil, lime juice, garlic, salt and Parmesan cheese. Blend for about 10 seconds. Then add in olive oil. Blend 10 seconds more until everything is incorporated. Taste and season with a bit more salt, if necessary.
- Drain pasta (don't forget to reserve a little pasta water) and return pasta back to the hot pot, set over LOW heat.
- Add shrimp (and all juices from the shrimp that are on the plate) and cilantro pesto to the pasta and carefully toss with tongs until all pasta is covered with the pesto. If you feel it's too thick add about a tablespoon of coconut milk or pasta water. **only add if you think the pasta needs it!
- Plate up your pasta and top with crushed peanuts, red pepper flakes, parmesan cheese and more lime juice, if you like!!