Does grilled shrimp get your taste buds tingling? Do you have a penchant for pesto? Make this sweet, creamy shrimp, savory pesto, and tangy lemon dish tonight for a memorable meal packed with layers of flavor.
Easier Than You Think
I’ve categorized this dish as hard since there are several different processes to complete, but this tasty lemon pesto shrimp and rice recipe is still easier than you might imagine. And I’ve included a few alternative methods and variations for time-saving, so you can easily make this recipe simpler if you need to.
You can use pre-grilled shrimp from your favorite takeout or grocer, or grill them yourself. But grilling the shrimp at home will allow the meat to better soak up the flavors of the pesto marinade.
You Might Want To Double This
This recipe is intended to serve four, but I think you’re going to like it so much that you’ll want a second helping. Double the recipe to ensure that everyone gets to enjoy seconds of this zesty, indulgent lemon pesto shrimp.
Even if you don’t want seconds, you’ll probably wish you’d doubled the recipe so you’ll have leftovers for tomorrow!
Prep Time: 5-10 minutes
Cook Time: 20-30 minutes
Total Time: 25 to 40 minutes
Difficulty: Medium to Hard
Before You Begin:
If you purchased frozen or fresh shrimp that require shelling, peel and devein the shrimp before you begin the recipe.
Grilling shrimp under your oven’s broiler is very easy. Of course, you can also grill the shrimp on a pellet smoker or a traditional barbecue or use an electric grill, but this oven method is so simple you’ll have your grilled shrimp ready in no time. And if you want to make this recipe easier, you can use pre-grilled shrimp. Just make sure that you order or purchase enough to make up around one pound.
If you’re grilling the shrimp yourself, preheat your broiler to the high setting, and ensure that frozen shrimp has had adequate time to thaw. A traditional barbecue grill should reach a medium heat. If you’re using the oven, preheat your broiler to high, and make sure the oven rack is no closer than 6 inches to the element.
Gather your ingredients, measuring and cooking equipment, and a food processor or blender.
- 1 Pound peeled, deveined shrimp
- 1/4 Cup olive oil
- 2 Tbs lemon juice
- 1 Cup basil leaves
- 2 Garlic cloves, peeled
- 1/4 Cup grated parmesan cheese
- 1/4 Cup pine nuts
- 1/2 Tsp ground black pepper
- 1 1/2 Tsp salt
- 2 Tsp lemon zest
- 1 Cup brown, wild or jasmine rice
- 2 Cups cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
- To create the pesto marinade, add the olive oil, lemon juice, basil leaves, garlic gloves, parmesan cheese, pine nuts, black pepper and 1/2 teaspoon of salt to the food processor or blender. Blend the ingredients on low to medium until they have fully combined.
Alternatively, you can use store bought pesto. Around three fourths to one cup of pesto should be enough to sufficiently marinate and coat the shrimp.
- Put your thawed, peeled and deveined shrimp in a small bowl. Pour the pesto over the shrimp and toss to coat. Allow the shrimp to marinate in the pesto for around 30 minutes prior to grilling.
- While the shrimp is marinating, cook the rice according to the package instructions, adding the remaining one teaspoon of salt to the boiling water with the dry rice. After the rice has cooked, and has absorbed most of the water, let it sit, covered, for around five minutes. After letting the rice sit, stir in the lemon zest and re-cover to keep the rice hot.
- To prepare the shrimp for grilling, take a cookie baking sheet, or a 9 by 13 baking pan, and arrange the shrimp an inch or so apart. You don’t need to oil the pan, since there is plenty of oil in the pesto. Grill the shrimp under your oven’s broiler for 3-4 minutes. Turn or toss the shrimp once, halfway between, if they appear to be browning or crisping up too much on the top. However, turning may not be necessary.
For pre-grilled shrimp, simply heat the pesto coated shrimp in a toaster oven or the microwave until they are hot through.
- Top plates of cooked rice each with one-fourth of the grilled shrimp and half a cup of the tomatoes.
- Replace the shrimp with chicken strips. Cut boneless chicken into strips of around three inches long and marinate them in the pesto for 30 minutes or longer.
- Make the recipe vegetarian by using a chicken-type meat substitute in place of the shrimp. Brands like Quorn, Beyond Meat and Gardein offer suitable chicken substitutes that would work well in this recipe.
- You can use any nuts you want in the pesto, although pine nuts are traditional. You can toast them first on a skillet to add more crunch and flavor. Some substitutes you might want to try: pistachios, walnuts, almonds or pecans. Larger nuts should be chopped finely before adding them to the food processor.
- You can replace the parmesan cheese with any number of aged cheeses, such as cotija, gouda, manchego or Pecorino Romano. Make sure to cheese a hard, aged cheese and grate it finely.
- Mix up the fresh green herbs by totally or partially replacing basil with cilantro, dandelion greens, mustard greens, baby spinach, or any other raw, dark green herbs or salad leaves.
- Instead of serving with halved tomatoes, add steamed broccoli or asparagus to the finished dish. You could also replace the tomatoes with halved purple or black grapes.
- If you’re not a fan of lemon, try using freshly squeezed orange juice and orange zest in this recipe. You could also replace the lemon juice in the pesto with apple cider vinegar.
- You can use any rice that you want to for this recipe. We suggested brown, wild or Jasmine rice for added nutrients and taste, but if you want to use plain white rice, it will also nicely compliment the rich pesto flavor.