If you love pesto, then you’ll love with this quick shrimp and asparagus dish that's made with fresh pesto. Pesto pairs so well with shrimp, and it tastes even better with asparagus and sun-dried tomatoes!
Of course, you may use your favorite store-bought pesto if you prefer. But we must warn you: the homemade pesto is the shining star in this dish. When you make the fresh pesto, the recipe is still only eight ingredients and comes together quickly. You just pulse together fresh basil, garlic, parmesan, pine nuts, and olive oil in a food processor until somewhat smooth — and that's it.
This healthy low-carb and keto meal takes just 25 minutes to make and is 6.8 net carbs. We hope you enjoy it as much as we do!
How to Make This Recipe
With only 8 ingredients, this weeknight dish is simple and quick to make.
- To start, you'll make the pesto. In a food processor, you'll add the basil, garlic, parmesan, pine nuts and olive oil. Then, you'll pulse to a somewhat smooth consistency. We recommend tasting the pesto and increasing ingredients as desired (or leave as is). If you prefer more garlic, add a clove more. If you want a more salty flavor, either season with salt or add more parmesan. Or, you can add more pine nuts for a more nutty flavor. And, adding more basil will give you a more herby flavor.
- Next, it's time to cook the asparagus and shrimp. After cleaning and trimming the asparagus, you'll sauté the asparagus over medium-high heat until just tender, about 4 minutes. Then, you'll add sun-dried tomatoes and shrimp and cook until the shrimp turns opaque, about 3 or 4 minutes. 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 highly processed and refined and 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!
Is basil pesto low-carb and keto-friendly? Homemade basil pesto is low carb 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.
Are sun-dried tomatoes low-carb and keto-friendly? 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.
How do I store leftover pesto? 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!
Other Low-Carb and Keto Dinner Recipes
Here are some other low-carb and keto dinner recipes you may enjoy:
Sheet Pan Smoked Paprika Chicken & Roasted Broccoli: In this easy keto sheet pan dinner, bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs are seasoned with smoked paprika, cumin and oregano for a smoky, slightly spicy flavor. When done, the chicken is deliciously tender and juicy with crisp, well-seasoned skin while the broccoli is crispy-tender and flavored by the juices and spices from the chicken.
Creamy Harissa Shrimp over Riced Cauliflower (10 minutes!): This low-carb and keto creamy harissa shrimp over riced cauliflower is another weeknight delight that takes 10 minutes to make and is deliciously spicy! We love this dinner since there is minimal preparation (just mincing garlic) and you can make the dish as spicy as you want. And when you buy riced cauliflower at the store, this recipe is a breeze to make.
Broiled Romaine and Shrimp Cesar Salad (15 Minutes!): This yummy, 15-minute low-carb and keto recipe checks all the boxes for us. It’s easy, fast, and tastes as delicious as a salad you’d order at a favorite restaurant. And since each serving includes a full head of romaine lettuce and half pound of shrimp, it hits the spot.
Pesto shrimp and asparagus
- 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, thawed
- Make the pesto: In a food processor, pulse basil, garlic, parmesan, pine nuts and olive oil until smooth. Season with salt if desired.
- 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 ½ cup pesto to mixture and toss well to combine. Serve immediately.