It’s PRAWN ASPARAGUS PESTO PASTA for our #FFMChristmasSeries! This pasta is so delicious, and will surely wow your guests! It’s cooked with homemade pesto sauce using wholesome ingredients, and with asparagus, and cherry tomatoes.
I also used pulse pasta in this recipe which is made from lentils and chickpeas making this a low-carb pasta, but you can also use whatever pasta of choice. I added a bit of cream but you can skip that if you want it just purely pesto.
Although you can also use ready-made pesto with this recipe, there’s something about making your own pesto at home. Not only can you control the quality of the ingredients, but the taste and flavor is so much better as well. Trust me, once you’ve made pesto at home, there’s no turning back.
INGREDIENTS FOR HOMEMADE PESTO SAUCE
FRESH BASIL – You need a good handful of these and it’s best when picked fresh from your garden or bought from the store. To prep, rinse the basil in running water and pat-dry in-between paper towels or use a salad spinner to take the extra moisture out.
OLIVE OIL – Pick a quality olive oil since this really makes a difference on the taste of your pesto sauce. You can use extra-virgin olive oil as well, but just regular olive oil will do.
PARMESAN CHEESE – Be generous with this as this will give your pesto that cheesy flavor. I prefer buying a block of parmesan and grating it myself since most of those grated ones you see in the grocery tend to have anti-caking agents. And again, for a quality one.
GARLIC – You can reduce or add more as you prefer. I personally am not a garlic person so 2 cloves is enough for me.
PINE NUTS – To give your pesto that nutty taste, add pine nuts or other nuts like cashews. You also need to lightly toast these nuts on a dry, ungreased pan for about 3-4 minutes until they start to release their natural oils. Nuts are also best used when it’s activate either thru soaking with water or dry-toasting.
Once you have all these ingredients, it’s as easy as adding these into a food processor and blending it away. You can also use a high-speed blender but you might have to double the recipe so it doesn’t get stuck right at the bottom if there’s too little quantity. If you are making extra, transfer the pesto sauce in a dry container or jar with a lid. Keep it chilled in the fridge and it will stay fresh for up to 5 days. You can also freeze your pesto in ice cube containers for longer storage and just pop one out when you need it.
CAN YOU MAKE THIS PRAWN ASPARAGUS PESTO PASTA AHEAD OF TIME?
Absolutely! You can make the pesto a few days ahead and even marinate your prawns the day before. You can also make the creamy pesto sauce in advance and just toss them altogether with the pasta and the cooked veggies once your guests have arrived. This is exactly what I did for my husband’s birthday recently and it took me just 10 minutes to get this pasta ready to serve for dinner. You can also freeze this pasta since it reheats well. You can just add a splash of water or milk if it’s too thick of a consistency.
WHAT IF I DON’T LIKE PRAWNS?
You can also use cooked chicken pieces, meatballs or sausages if not prawns. This can also be made vegetarian by just adding other veggies like mushrooms, sweet peas, zucchinis, spinach, or broccoli. Your options are endless since pesto sauce goes very well with most veggies.
CAN THIS BE MADE VEGAN OR GLUTEN-FREE?
To make it gluten-free, go for gluten-free pasta or pulse pasta that’s made from legumes. You can even use zoodles or zucchini noodles instead of pasta. For vegan options, use a non-dairy cream or cashew cream. I wouldn’t use coconut cream since the flavor might overpower the pesto sauce. Use also a dairy-free or vegan parmesan for the pesto sauce.
So, now let’s get on with making this PRAWN ASPARAGUS PESTO PASTA, shall we?
- food processor or high-speed blender (for pesto sauce)
- 1/2 cup fresh basil
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1/2 cup toasted pinenuts or sub with cashew nuts
- 500 grams large or king prawns de-veined, de-shelled
- 300 grams whole wheat or pulse pasta
- 3/4 cup thickened cream or sub with non-dairy cream
- 250 grams cherry tomatoes halved
- 1 bunch asparagus trimmed, cut into 1-inch length
- 2 tablespoons olive oil for cooking
- salt & pepper to taste
- Cook pasta per package instructions and save about 1/2 cup of pasta water before draining.
- Prep your pesto by adding the basil, parmesan cheese, garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper, and pine nuts in a food processor. Process until it's smooth to your liking. Taste and season as necessary. Take about 1 tablespoon of the pesto sauce and coat your prawns with it in a shallow dish. Set it aside.
- Heat about 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet or pan and pan-fry the prawns for 3-4 minutes per side or until it starts to turn pink. Transfer to a plate.
- Add the remaining olive oil into the pan and cook the asparagus for a minute. Then add the rest of the pesto sauce, and cream then let it come to a soft boil. Turn down heat and toss in the pasta, cherry tomatoes and add a splash of pasta water as needed if the sauce is too thick.
- Garnish with more parmesan cheese and fresh basil and serve while warm.
FOR MORE PASTA RECIPES, CHECK THESE OUT:
I hope you enjoy making this pasta and that your family and friends will also love it. Have a very Merry Christmas!