There is nothing more comforting to me than a big ol' plate of pasta, but there are few meals more calorically dense or higher in carbohydrates! One of my favorite meals is shrimp and spaghetti with pesto sauce and Parmesan cheese, but this meal can contain upwards of 1,000 - 1,300 calories and leaves me feeling bloated, sluggish, and curled up on the couch in the fetal position (thanks GLUTEN)! This terrible combination lead me to search for a recipe for a healthier version of my beloved Pesto Pasta that would provide me with the right combination of nutrients to leave me feeling energized and still give me that "comfort food" feel I so desperately miss. After a few trial and errors with different recipes, I decided to make my own version of a Pesto Pasta that is higher in protein, healthy fats, and antioxidants and lower in calories, saturated fat, and empty carbohydrates. I was quite surprised with the end result and could not believe how delicious my concoction was... not to mention it is naturally gluten-free, contains 2-3 servings of vegetables, and is surprisingly filling!
Let me introduce to you....
Shrimp and Avocado Pesto "Pasta"
The big secret is I used zucchini and yellow squash for the "pasta" (also known as "zoodles") and avocado and spinach in the pesto sauce! I promise you won't miss the spaghetti and your taste buds will be blown away by the avocado pesto sauce!
So what are you waiting for!? Give this made-over recipe a try!
Ingredients: (Makes 4 servings)
* Avocado Pesto Sauce (About 30 calories per 2 tbsp - serving)
- 1/2 small Haas Avocado
- 3 tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice (1/2 a lemon)
- 2 cups baby spinach leaves (stems removed)
- 10 Basil leaves (stems removed)
* Shrimp & Zoodles
- Olive oil spray
- Old bay spice (to taste)
- 12 oz pre-cooked, frozen shrimp (thawed)
- 2-3 medium zucchinis
- 2-3 medium yellow squash
- 1 cup grape tomatoes
- 1/2 cup reduced-fat Parmesan cheese (for topping)
- Red Chili flakes (to taste)
* Tools needed:
- Food Processor, like my Cusinart 8-cup
- Vegetable Spiralizer, like my Veggetti
- Large skillet / sauce pan
- Combine all the ingredients for the Avocado Spinach Pesto in a food processor and blend until well combined. You may need to scrape down the sides of the bowl periodically and add a tbsp or two of water to reach desired consistency. Once the pesto reaches your desired consistency and taste, set aside in the refrigerator while you prepare the shrimp and zoodles.
- Use a vegetable spiralizer or mandolin slicer to turn your zucchini and yellow squash into vegetable noodles. Once all vegetables are spiralized, set aside.
- Spray a large skillet / sauce pan with olive oil spray and saute the shrimp with the Old Bay (to taste) until the shrimp are heated through (about 2 minutes). Add the spiralized zucchini and yellow squash and heat for another 1-2 minutes until the vegetables are heated through and soften up a bit.
- Remove the skillet from the heat and add the avocado pesto sauce. Mix well!
- Divide the shrimp and zoodles among 4 plates and top each plate with 1/4 cup grape tomatoes, 2 tbsp Parmesan cheese, and chili flakes (to taste).
(Sauteing the Shrimp and Zoodles with Old Bay :-) )
And that's all there is to it! A quick and VERY healthy meal the whole family will love, without the carb-overload and bloating! You can switch up the ingredients to your liking and be creative with your very own concoctions! Some of my favorite versions of this Pesto Pasta include grilled chicken and ground turkey with canned diced tomatoes!
(Grilled chicken breast with "Pesto Pasta")
(Ground turkey with "Pasta" Marinara)
Go ahead, have fun with your Pesto Pasta! You can thank me later :-)