Pesto and zucchini noodles are a low carb match made in heaven. This simple dinner recipe is topped with baked shrimp and roast tomatoes.
Since Shawn started eating fewer carbs this past spring, it seems like zucchini and cauliflower have taken over our kitchen. It’s honestly really impressive how many things those two vegetables can stand in for!
One of my favorite way to eat zucchini is cut into long, noodle-like strands called zucchini noodles, or zoodles. (If you’re British and call zucchini courgette, you’d call this courgetti with is super fun to say!)
It’s easy to find pre-cut zucchini noodles at the grocery store since low carb diets are so popular right now. I buy those when I’m looking for something quick, but I usually prefer to cut it myself using a spiralizer. That way I can use a smaller setting for more of an angel hair like thickness. Thinner zoodles are more tender without being soggy, and we love eating them raw or just warmed through.
When I’m just looking to get something on the table fast, I make zucchini noodles with red sauce and sausage or meatballs. But when I have more time, I love getting creative and using them in recipes like Pepper Jack Smothered Chicken with Southwest Zoodles or Sauteed Zucchini Noodles with Fresh Herbs + Hazelnuts.
These pesto zucchini noodles with baked shrimp fall somewhere in between. They’re really simple and easy to make – especially if you use store-bought pesto – but they have an elegant, special occasion feeling to them.
How to make homemade pesto for pesto zucchini noodles
Samin’s recipe is different than other pesto recipes I’ve made. She has you start by grinding pine nuts into a ut butter-like paste. This paste emulsifies the pesto and gives it a super creamy texture and more consistent flavor. It’s a great extra step!
Next, you add tons of fresh basil, salt, and parmesan cheese and drizzle in your best olive oil. If you feel like being extra, you can mash it all together using a mortar and pestle. There’s something really soothing about doing it that way. But if you don’t have one, or if you’re feeling impatient, a food processor works just as well.
Or, you know, just buy some pesto at the grocery store. No judgment. For the best flavor, look for tubs of fresh refrigerated pesto sold in the produce section.
How to make Baked Shrimp
To keep this recipe on the simpler side, I roasted the shrimp and tomatoes instead of cooking them on the stovetop.
The gentle heat of the oven cooks the shrimp perfectly every time and they don’t get overcooked or rubbery. At the same time, the tomatoes cook down and get a jammy texture and concentrated tomato flavor, without drying out. They’re amazing combined with that delicious homemade pesto!
If you’re using frozen shrimp, just be sure to defrost them before placing them on the baking sheet. Otherwise, they can get waterlogged and soggy. You’ll also want to be sure to peel and devein the shrimp if you didn’t buy them cleaned.