If you’re looking for something light and fresh, that also feels comforting and indulgent, then this one pot pasta recipe is for you!
Single pot pasta is our go to recipe
We absolutely love making one pot pasta. In fact, if you stick around, you’ll see we make a new one almost every week! Over time, we have learned that cooking everything in one dish not only saves time but it significantly enhances the flavor of the recipe.
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 LOVE the concept of one pot pasta.
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! In addition to making the dish extra tasty, it also makes the dish extra easy to make AND clean up. How often do you cook and only have one dish to clean??
Treat yourself to an easy clean up! 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.
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. Although you can easily make dairy free pesto by omitting the parmesan cheese!
We personally love to make this recipe in the summer, when fresh basil is at its prime.
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!
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) is 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!
While this recipe is super simple, it is a great source of protein and an easy way to sneak in some veggies without compromising flavor. The spinach wilts into the pasta so well that you can hardly tell 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
- 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.
- Add the cherry tomatoes, and olive oil on top. Follow that by seasoning with salt, pepper, oregano and thyme.
- 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.
- 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.
- Serve immediately in your favorite pasta bowl. Top with baked shrimp (or sautéed) and shaved parmesan cheese.
How to make baked shrimp
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- In a bowl add thawed and dried shrimp. Toss with olive oil, salt, pepper, paprika, chili powder, and garlic.
- 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)
- 1 lb uncooked pasta shells (or your choice of pasta)
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes
- 2 tsp lemon olive oil (or extra virgin olive oil)
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 4 cup low sodium vegetable broth
- 1/4 cup prepared pesto
- 1/3 cup heavy cream
- 3 cups fresh baby spinach
- 1 lb large raw frozen shrimp (21-25 per pound (thawed))
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 3 cloves minced garlic
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- In a large bowl add thawed shrimp. Add olive oil, salt, pepper, paprika, chili powder, and garlic. Toss until all the shrimp is coated.
- 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.
- Add the cherry tomatoes, salt, pepper, oregano and thyme. 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.
- 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.
- Serve immediately in your favorite pasta bowl. Top with shrimp.
So easy and delicious! Thank you!
We’re so glad to hear!
AMAZING! Will be making again!
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? :<
We use store bought broth. You can always use water if you don’t have access to store bought broth!
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!
Is there a dairy free alternative to the heavy cream? Thanks in advance!
You can use coconut cream or full fat coconut milk!
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!
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
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.
You can substitute with your choice of milk, or you can leave it out all together and add some extra broth!