If you love pesto, then you’ll love this high-protein, keto shrimp and asparagus made with fresh pesto. It's an all-in-one dish that takes just 25 minutes to make!
Pesto and shrimp are such a tasty pairing, and when you add asparagus and sun-dried tomatoes, you got one heck of a meal!
Although you can use store-bought pesto, the homemade pesto is the shining star in this dish. Plus, the homemade pesto takes just 5 minutes to make!
It's an all-in-one dish that comes together quickly on weeknights. Plus, it's a healthy meal that's high in protein, low in carbs, and keto-friendly. And since it's high in protein, It'll likely keep you full and satisfied for the night.
Just a few notes on key ingredients.
- Homemade pesto: We prefer to make homemade pesto for this recipe, but you can use a favorite store-bought pesto if you like. That said, it can be hard to find a decent store-bought pesto due to taste or subpar ingredients. Many store-bought pesto sauces are typically made with sunflower oil (instead of olive oil), glucose syrup, potato flakes, or basil flavoring. Our homemade pesto is simply made with fresh basil, extra-virgin olive oil, parmesan, pine nuts and garlic.
- Shrimp: You can use fresh or frozen shrimp in this dish. We use peeled, deveined and tail-on or -off shrimp. It's easier to eat with tail-off, but looks nice with tail-on. If frozen, thaw shrimp according to bag instructions.
- Asparagus: We recommend buying thinner asparagus stalks (as opposed to thick stalks) since they work better in this recipe. Be sure to purchase firm, straight stalks (not limp) with just a small amount of whitish color at the base. After rinsing and trimming, you'll chop into 2-inch chunks for easier eating in this recipe.
- Sun-dried tomatoes: We love the flavor the sun-dried tomatoes add to this dish; however, you can skip if you like. We buy jarred sun-dried tomatoes, which you can typically find in the spice or pasta aisle. This recipe uses two tablespoons of sun-dried tomatoes, which is about 2 grams net carbs. You can replace the sun-dried tomatoes with chopped grape tomatoes if preferred.
How to Make This Recipe
With only 8 ingredients, this weeknight dish is simple and quick to make.
STEP 1: In a food processor, add the basil, garlic, parmesan, pine nuts and olive oil. Pulse to a somewhat smooth consistency. Season with salt. Taste the pesto and increase ingredients as desired (or leave as is). If you prefer more garlic, add a clove more. If you want a more salty flavor, add more salt or parmesan. Or, add more pine nuts for a more nutty flavor. Adding more basil will give you a more herby flavor. If sauce is thick, you can thin with more olive oil. For a little acidity, add a squeeze or two of lemon juice.
STEP 2: After cleaning and trimming the asparagus, you'll sauté the asparagus over medium-high heat until just tender, about 4 minutes.
STEP 3: Then, you'll add sun-dried tomatoes and shrimp and cook until the shrimp turns opaque, about 3 or 4 minutes.
STEP 4: After, you'll remove the skillet from the heat and add the pesto. Toss well to combine and serve immediately.
About Store-Bought Pesto
As mentioned, you can use store-bought peso in this recipe if you prefer. That said, it can be hard to find a decent store-bought pesto, which is why we prefer to make it at home. In our experience, most store-bought pesto tastes mediocre (at best) since it can be too salty, or the flavor is off, or it may not even taste like real pesto.
But that’s not all — most store-bought pesto is made with subpar ingredients like sunflower oil, glucose syrup, potato flakes, or basil flavoring. Sunflower oil typically replaces olive oil (as it’s much cheaper) and is usually one of the first ingredients in store-bought pesto. Sunflower oil is a highly-processed oil that can have higher levels of trans fat. And, when processed, the oil becomes stripped of its nutrients. Therefore, it’s best to minimize or avoid the consumption of sunflower oil when possible.
Because of this, we recommend checking the ingredients before purchasing pesto at the store. A good store-bought pesto should be made with basil, extra-virgin olive oil, cheese, garlic, pine nuts and salt. Be aware that high-quality pesto will be more expensive, but it’s definitely worth it!
Homemade basil pesto is low in carbs and keto-friendly since it's just made with olive oil, basil, garlic, pine nuts and parmesan. Most store-bought pesto is usually low in carbs, but it's best to check the net carbs and the ingredients before purchasing. As mentioned above, some pesto sauces include subpar ingredients like glucose syrup, corn starch and sunflower oil.
Sundried tomatoes are higher in carbs than raw tomatoes. However, you can eat sun-dried tomatoes in smaller amounts while on a low-carb or keto diet. One tablespoon of sun-dried tomatoes is 1 net carb.
If you have any leftover homemade pesto, you can either store in in a closed container in the refrigerator for a week or in the freezer for up to 6 months. Whatever you do, don't throw it away!
If you try this recipe, we would love to hear your feedback! Leave a comment, rate it, and tag @lowcarbsimplified on your photo of this recipe on Instagram or Facebook. We hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we do!
Keto Shrimp and Asparagus with Pesto
- 1 ½ cups fresh basil loosely packed
- 1 to 2 cloves garlic as desired
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil for pesto
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil for sautéing
- ⅛ cup parmesan grated
- 1 ½ tablespoons pine nuts
- 8 ounces asparagus trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
- ⅛ cup sun-dried tomatoes chopped
- 1 pound medium-size raw shrimp peeled, deveined and tail-on or off, thawed
- Make the pesto: In a food processor, pulse basil, garlic, parmesan, pine nuts and olive oil until smooth. Season with salt as needed.
- Sauté asparagus and shrimp: In a large skillet, heat one tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add asparagus and sauté until just tender, about 4 minutes. Add sun-dried tomatoes and shrimp and cook until shrimp turns opaque, about 3 or 4 minutes.
- Finish and serve: Remove skillet from heat and add ⅓ cup (or slightly more or less) pesto to mixture and toss well to combine. Serve immediately.