Shrimp Pesto Pasta salad with creamy pesto dressing is a delicious gourmet side dish for holiday menus and potlucks, but is also a fantastic full sized dinner option with cheese tortellini and fresh bites of sautéed shrimp. You will LOVE this pasta salad and after one bite, will be sure to be a favorite!
This week on my cooking with my neighbors Tuesday recipe day, we really dove into shrimp. Honestly shrimp is so underrated. Its delicious, its majorly quick at only about 6 minutes to saute, and its diverse. You can eat shrimp from a grill, oven bake it, pop it it a skillet- heck even the Japanese places near me cooks up a little bit of shrimp. And after some our delicious recipes we created, we started to feel a bit like Bubba Gump in Shrimp.But I have to share one more, I just have to. This shrimp pesto pasta salad is THE creamiest most delicious and gourmet side dish out there. With decadent bites of cheese tortellini’s, a spattering of fresh vegetables, sautéed shrimp and of course the creamiest pesto dressing ever, this is a rich homemade side dish that will leave no bowl un-turned.
Reasons to love Shrimp Pesto Pasta Salad
Tortellini – who doesn’t love robust tortellini. They come in a variety of flavors, filled with mushrooms, chicken, cheese and so much more. IN this case, we used four cheese tortellini as the base of our pesto pasta salad.
Seafood – there really isn’t enough seafood at family and party gatherings. People think seafood is difficult to make but its really not and this shrimp pesto pasta salad is a great way to sneak a high class ingredient into a birthday party, potluck or picnic. Its also much easier to cook up then having to bake chicken for 30 minutes and cools down quickly for cold salads.
Alterations- This pasta salad recipe is so easy to alter! The pesto and tortellini are pretty basic flavors that pair well with added ingredients like additional garlic, the shrimp can be substituted for other seafood like crab or salmon pieces.
Vegetable Salad Options – In this tortellini pesto pasta, you could add almost any kind of small cut up vegetables. You could add broccoli florets, black olives, green peppers or bits of cauliflower.
Shrimp Pesto Pasta Salad
For the base of your salad, you need just a few things, veggies and pasta.
- Veggies – red bell peppers, shredded carrots, green olives, frozen peas, shredded Parmesan (I like the FRESH shredded, not the KRAFT powder for this)
- Tortellini – used Cheese version. Since this recipe includes shrimp, you don’t want to mix up flavors too much with other proteins. You can usually find the tortellini in the FRIDGE area near the cheese. Its a fresh pasta that stays cold.
Creamy Pesto Dressing
Hint: Make your pesto dressing in a separate bowl so you can make sure you incorporate and mix your dressing perfectly before adding to your pasta salad bowl.
- Mayo – I only use Hellmann’s
- Pesto – Its OK to purchase pesto in a jar, its typically by the Italian products in your store, but if you want to make your own homemade pesto sauce, I have a recipe
- Whole Cream – if needed, you can substitute half and half or milk, but it might be less thick. Just lower the amount you use to find the right consistency. It wont alter the flavor too much, although I always recommend using whole cream when you can for that rich hearty flavor
- Olive Oil
- White Vinegar
If you love shrimp or are wanting to incorporate it more in recipes like I am, make sure you try some of my other creative options:
- Seafood Pasta Salad – This seafood pasta salad is made with shells and a mayonnaise base. While some of the ingredients are similar to this recipe it tastes nothing like it.
- Mediterranean Shrimp Salad – Tomatoes, Avocados and Shrimp, oh my! This is a super fresh salad with a simple non-mayo base.
- Tuna Pasta Salad – Corkscrew pasta, tuna and tomatoes make up this traditional side dish salad, perfect for picnics
- Tri Color Pasta Salad – this salad doesn’t have shrimp in it, although when we made it we had INTENDED on adding it. We just simply ran out of shrimp before we got to this recipe, but it would be an amazing addition.