Friday, March 4, 2011

Creamy Pasta with Pesto

Recipe modified by Gretchen Wilson – January 20, 2009
For a commentary-free and printer-friendly version of it, please click here.

Recipe originally published by The Daily Recipe – Monday, February 10, 2003.

Are you wondering why I didn’t link to the original recipe?  Well there are many reasons which I’ll cover throughout today’s post.  This was one of the first recipe e-zines I ever subscribed to.  They were decent recipes for beginners, but honestly, a lot of it was buying box stuff and jazzing it up.  I progressed past that pretty quickly.  Then I realized they were running the same recipes over and over.  Maybe not every month, but when recipes look familiar and you get them 365 days a year, that’s pretty bad.  As they were less creative with their recipes, they started continually trying to sell me tchotchkes.  Now I have no problem with people selling stuff from their blogs.  I hope one day this blog can generate revenue (please pass the blog along!), but most of my recipe e-zines I get sell stuff like pots, pans, ingredients… you know, stuff I can use while cooking.  Not plastic fart machines – not that I have anything against fart machines – I just don’t want to be bombarded daily with it in my Inbox.  Oh yeah, and there was a little incident of every time I would access their website, I’d get a virus notice from my software.  It was time to say goodbye.

This was one of the recipes that I really enjoyed from their site.  It was simple, yet incredibly tasty.  Also, it exposed me to pesto – an ingredient/sauce that seems really scary when you are considering using it for the first time.  When you look at the ingredient listing it is basically pureed basil with a little olive oil and garlic.  That can absolutely terrify a novice chef as well as a picky eater.

My finished product:

© You Want Me to Cook?

Picture published with recipe:


Another issue I had with The Daily Recipe was that they never published pictures of their recipes.  Now, I am far from a professional blogger, but even I take pictures of the dishes I create.  How can you be a professional blogging company, write/publish recipes for said company, and not take pictures of what you make.  It doesn’t make sense!

Putting that aside, even though my photo is a little far away (another one of my first photos) it still manages to look delicious.  A delicate pasta with a light sauce that showcases the shrimp.

for more details about what my ratings mean, go to Gretchen’s Rating System

MessEH – other than cooking the pasta, which never really makes a mess, everything is done in one pan and there is no prep.  So why not a NADA rating?  Because of the pesky peeling and deveining of the shrimp which has the potential of making a slimy watery mess.  Of course, you can always spend a little more cash and get peeled and deveined shrimp at your grocery store’s seafood counter.

Start-to-Finish Time: WELL UNDER AN HOUR – Start the pasta water even before getting out your ingredients because the sauce takes about 15 minutes to make.  You’ll have it done before you even get your water to boil.

Prep Work: ALL FINGERS STILL HERE – technically there is some prep work, but there’s no chopping or anything like that.  You have to peel and devein your shrimp.  Messy?  Yes.  Difficult?  No.  I couldn’t in good conscience rate this any worse.

Ease of Recipe: COOK IT IN MY SLEEP – If you can cook pasta and pour and stir, you’ve got the talent for this dish.

OverallYUMMY – You’re dealing with a pound of shrimp and a pound of pasta and I still could have eaten well over half of it in one sitting.  In fact, the only reason I haven’t made this again and again is because it isn’t really the healthiest dish I’ve ever made.  But on special occasions – you bet this recipe gets busted out.

Recipe Information:
Time estimates are from the original publisher of the recipe, not the length of time it took me to create it.  Look for my comments below.  Nutritional Information is based on original recipe.  Any changes I make to reduce the caloric, fat, cholesterol or sodium content are not reflected in the Nutritional Information.

Prep/Total Time: None given
Servings: None given

Nutritional Information
None given

Do I really need to say why this information is important?  What do they consider a serving?  What is the calorie, fat, protein, sodium content?  Yes, you can put this in the “why I no longer subscribe to this e-zine” column.  Obviously there was little I could do about thinning out the recipe, but I tried my best with the wheat pasta.

Changes denoted by red text

1 pound wheat thin spaghetti
½ cup butter
2 cups heavy whipping cream
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 cup shredded parmesan cheese
1/3 cup store-bought pesto
1 pound large shrimp - peeled and de-veined

Ingredient Notes:
Wheat Thin Spaghetti
  • Originally this recipe called for angel hair pasta, but I wanted to use wheat pasta, and I couldn’t find it.  Angel hair pasta is just like spaghetti but the rods are very thin, so technically, “thin spaghetti” is probably angel hair.  Cook’s Thesaurus lists other substitutes as capellini (pronounced cah-peh-LEE-nee) or vermicelli (pronounced ver-mih-CHELL-ee).
  • Many an Italian has told me that wheat pasta is blasphemy.  Personally?  I can’t tell the difference.  However, the original recipe does call for traditional pasta, so feel free to use it in the event (a) you can’t find wheat angel hair or (b) you can’t bring yourself to eat the wheat.

Shredded Parmesan Cheese – I had shredded instead of grated on hand, so that was what I used.

Pesto – you can find Pesto in the same area as the other pasta sauces but probably on one of the top shelves.  Of course, you can also make your own. 

  • When you buy your shrimp, “Large” shrimp are considered to be 21 to 30 ct size shrimp.
  • Buy frozen, deveined shrimp that you have to peel to save time, or to save even more time, visit the seafood counter of your grocery store the day of or the day before you are planning on cooking this dish and purchase deveined and peeled shrimp.

Equipment Needed:
Large pot / Pasta pot
Wooden spoon
Large skillet / Dutch Oven
Large spoon

Equipment Notes:
Large Skillet / Dutch Oven – if you don’t have a large skillet that is deep (you’ll be cooking 2 cups of cream and a pound of shrimp with stirring it) just use your Dutch oven.

(1)  Cook and drain pasta as according to the directions.

The ingredient listing had the pasta already cooked, but anything that requires cooking, should be listed as its own step.  By the way, start the water boiling before even getting out the other ingredients.  The sauce doesn’t take very long to make.

(2)  In large skillet, melt the butter over medium heat; stir in the cream and pepper.  Cook, stirring constantly, for 6 to 8 minutes or until hot.

You really don’t want it to boil.  When you see a little steam rising off the cream, it is ready.

(3)  Add the grated parmesan cheese, stirring until thoroughly mixed.

(4)  Stir in the pesto sauce and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, until thickened.

(5)  Add the shrimp and cook until they turn pink, about 5 minutes.  Serve over the hot pasta.

This was a quick and easy pasta dish that had a great taste.  Was it the healthiest?  Not really, but indulging once in a while won’t kill anyone.  If there was anything I’d change, it would be the pasta.  Honestly, I think the sauce could really stand up to thicker/wider pasta, like a linguine or fettuccine.


  1. Looks easy ! Hubby loves shrimp.

  2. It is REALLY easy. You'll have the sauce done faster than the pasta too!