In the mood for a dish that’s both light and fresh yet feels like a comforting indulgence? Well, buckle up because this one-pot pesto pasta recipe is about to become your go-to culinary escape!

overhead image of one pot pesto pasta with oven baked shrimp

Single pot pasta is our go to recipe

We’re unabashedly passionate about whipping up one-pot pasta wonders. Stick around, and you’ll notice we’re practically rolling out a new creation every week! Through trial and error, we’ve discovered that tossing everything into one dish not only shaves off precious time but also cranks up the flavor game to a whole new level. It’s a win-win situation we just can’t get enough of!

Pasta is an incredible food, in our opinion. The fact that it is shelf stable for a long period of time makes it easy to keep handy and it’s a dish almost everyone enjoys! But in order to cook dried pasta, you need to rehydrate it.

Most often, recipes call for cooking pasta in heavily salted water. If you skip the salt, your pasta will turn out to be bland despite how flavorful your sauce might be. This is because most of the seasoning of the pasta itself happens during the rehydration process.

And that, our friends, is why we’re downright infatuated with the genius concept of one-pot pasta. It’s the kitchen hack that keeps on giving!

Cooking pasta in broth instead of water, alongside all of the ingredients and seasoning allows the uncooked pasta noodles to absorb all that flavor while it is cooking. The pasta also releases gluten during the cooking process, which helps thicken the sauce.

This flavor hack is our favorite reason one pot pasta is a part of our weekly meal rotation, but it isn’t the only reason! Not only does this method amp up the flavor, but it also cranks up the ease factor for both cooking and cleanup. Let’s be real—how often do you whip up a meal and end up with just one dish to tackle for cleanup? It’s like hitting the kitchen jackpot!

Indulge in a delicious meal and give yourself the gift of effortless cleanup. Because why settle for anything less than a tasty feast with minimal kitchen aftermath? And if you love this one pot pasta method as much as we do, be sure to check out our top 5 favorite one pot pasta recipes here.

pasta shells, tomatoes, and pesto in a large pot

What is pesto?

If you have never had pesto before, we are here to tell you it is pure magic! You can buy it already made at any grocery store, or you can follow our recipe for fresh basil pesto.

Pesto is an Italian sauce that originated in Genoa, a town in Northern Italy. The primary components are basil, pine nuts, garlic, parmesan cheese, and olive oil. However, you can easily make dairy-free pesto by omitting the parmesan cheese!

Personally, we adore whipping up this recipe during the summer, when fresh basil hits its peak perfection. It’s like capturing the essence of sunshine in every bite!

You can store fresh pesto in the fridge or in the freezer. Ideally, you will want to store it in an airtight container for 3 days in the fridge or up to 3 months in the freezer. To make defrosting easy, try freezing the pesto in silicone ice cube trays so you can pull out just what you need!

one pot pesto pasta with oven baked shrimp

What kind of pasta to use for this recipe

While you can’t go wrong with any shape of pasta for this recipe, we think that oversized shells (called Gnocca) are the best! The shape of these shells is perfect for picking up sauce and making for a truly authentic experience.

You can get the exact ones we use from TerraMar, an online grocer that sources products from around the world. The pasta we are using for this recipe is made in Italy in the Grangnano Pasta Factory and uses fresh local ingredients.

Is one pot shrimp pesto healthy?

The short answer is yes!

Despite its simplicity, this recipe pulls double duty as a protein powerhouse and a clever vehicle for sneaking in veggies without sacrificing flavor. The spinach seamlessly wilts into the pasta, playing a stealthy role—you’ll hardly even notice it’s there! And spinach is an incredible source of plant-based iron and protein!

We also like to use shrimp as the protein for this dish, which is naturally lighter than most other animal-based proteins. It carries a low fat content and calorie count. While you may not want to eat shrimp every single day, as it is higher in sodium and carbohydrates, it is a healthy way to diversify your meals.

How to make one pot shrimp pesto

  1. Pour the pasta shells (or pasta of your choice) into a deep dish pot. Ideally, you want to use a pot that has a compatible top or cover.
  2. Add the cherry tomatoes, and olive oil on top. Follow that by seasoning with salt, pepper, oregano and thyme.
  3. Pour the broth over these ingredients and bring the liquid up to a boil over medium high heat. Cook the pasta for 9-11 minutes, or until the texture of the shells reaches al dente.
  4. Next, turn off the heat and add a heaping spoonful of pesto, heavy cream and one cup of spinach. Mix everything together while the pot is still hot – this will allow the spinach to naturally wilt without getting too soggy.
  5. Serve immediately in your favorite pasta bowl. Top with baked shrimp (or sautéed) and shaved parmesan cheese.
close up image of a scoop of one pot pesto pasta with shrimp

How to make baked shrimp

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. In a bowl add thawed and dried shrimp. Toss with olive oil, salt, pepper, paprika, chili powder, and garlic. 
  3. In a large sheet pan add shrimp in a single layer. Bake for 10-13 minutes or until cooked through (pink and opaque).
one pot pesto pasta with oven baked shrimp.

One Pot Pesto Pasta (with oven baked shrimp)

5 from 7 votes
Author: Food Dolls
Servings: 8 servings
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 13 minutes
Total: 28 minutes
This one pot pesto pasta is loaded with fresh spinach, pesto, and parmesan cheese! Made with a side of baked shrimp!

Ingredients  

  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 teaspoons lemon olive oil or extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 cup low sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 pounds uncooked pasta shells or your choice of pasta
  • 1/4 cup prepared pesto
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 3 cups fresh baby spinach

Baked Shrimp

  • 1 pound large raw frozen shrimp 21-25 per pound (thawed)
  • 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 3 cloves minced garlic

Instructions 

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • In a large bowl add thawed shrimp. Add olive oil, salt, pepper, paprika, chili powder, and garlic. Toss until all the shrimp is coated.
    1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, 1 pound large raw frozen shrimp, 1 teaspoon smoked paprika, 1 teaspoon chili powder, 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, 3 cloves minced garlic
  • In a large sheet pan add shrimp in a single layer. Bake for 10-13 minutes or until cooked through (pink and opaque). Set aside.
  • Pour the pasta shells (or pasta of your choice) into a deep (4.5 qt) pot.
    1 pounds uncooked pasta shells
  • Add the cherry tomatoes, salt, pepper, oregano and thyme. Drizzle with oil. Pour the broth over these ingredients and bring the liquid up to a boil over medium high heat.
    1 cup cherry tomatoes, 1 teaspoon dried thyme, 1 teaspoon dried oregano, 4 cup low sodium vegetable broth, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, 2 teaspoons lemon olive oil
  • Cook the pasta for 9-11 minutes, or until the texture of the shells reaches al dente.
  • Next, turn off the heat and add a heaping spoonful of pesto, heavy cream and spinach. Mix everything together while the pot is still hot – this will allow the spinach to naturally wilt without getting too soggy.
    1/4 cup prepared pesto, 1/3 cup heavy cream, 3 cups fresh baby spinach
  • Serve immediately in your favorite pasta bowl. Top with shrimp.

Video

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 380kcal | Carbohydrates: 47g | Protein: 21g | Fat: 12g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Trans Fat: 0.003g | Cholesterol: 103mg | Sodium: 743mg | Potassium: 412mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 1656IU | Vitamin C: 8mg | Calcium: 92mg | Iron: 2mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Like this recipe?Please leave a comment!

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Meet Alia & Radwa

Welcome to Food Dolls! We’re so glad you found us. We are Alia and Radwa, sisters who want to share simple and easy recipes with you. We hope you find recipes here that you enjoy making as much as we do! Learn more about us!

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Recipe Rating




14 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    We absolutely love this dish. I make it for just our family and also when we have people over. I sometimes sub with chicken. It’s always a crowd pleaser and looks and tastes like you went all out when it’s actually very easy!

    1. Right?! We love that it tastes like you spent a long time putting this dish together! We are glad that it is a hit for you guys!

  2. it very looks delicious, but I thought it was called “one pot” because it’s quick and that’s the point of making it in one pot to make it easier and faster, whereas here you have to cook the broth beforehand for a much longer time than you normally cook pasta in water. so what’s the point? :<

  3. Looking forward to making this! I’m thinking I’ll have to sub diced tomatoes for the fresh, and I’ll bake salmon to serve with it!

  4. 5 stars
    This recipe is SUPER YUMMY! I was worried if the shrimp would be too spicy for my kiddos and husband, because they are sensitive to spicy dishes. They ate ALL of the shrimp and pasta! Definitely making this again!

  5. 5 stars
    I tried this recipe yesterday and I was like WOW so easy and super yummy.
    I absolutely adore your recipes ♥️
    Can’t wait for more

  6. I haven’t made this yet, but it looks great except for the heavy cream. Is it possible to leave it out or substitute something else? I don’t care if it’s not as creamy.