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Cilantro Pesto Shrimp & Cheesy Pesto Orzo

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Shrimpie Kabobs- this is summer lovin at it’s very best.  I totally took advantage of my allotted 12 ounces of seafood this week- pinterest does the most damage when it comes to feeding into my cravings for fish, and this recipe (found via pinterest) did not dissapoint.  The original recipe was a bit different- a good example was that of requiring I grill my kabobs.  Well- although I love this idea, my sweet Fireman was not going to be home in time to take my shrimp down to the poolside for grilling.  I didn’t want to bother him to make that effort (after a really long and hot day working his part-time job) for just 4 minutes.  SO- this little mama made due with what I could so dinner would be hot and ready for when he walked in the door. 

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I started with a basic base of pesto making- per the recipe, but decided that the recipe called for an overwhelming amount of oil.. oil=fat, and even though it is healthy fat- fat is still fat.  So- I used a bit more lemon juice and less oil.  I found that doing it this way made for a thicker pesto- that stuck to my shrimp quite well.

I used fresh, wild caught, Key West shrimp- that I peeled and de-veined and tossed in a large bowl with my prepared pesto and let them sit (covered with plastic wrap) on the bottom shelf of the fridge for about and hour and a half.  I don’t think it is totally necessary for the marinating time, but I had the time to spare while preparing my meal, so I took advantage.  When I was ready to cook my shrimp, I threaded them onto wooden skewers (since I wasn’t grilling them, I did not pre-soak them in water) and placed them onto a parchment lined baking dish and broiled them.  The cheesy cilantro-spinach pesto gave these shrimp a great flavor- and I definitely didn’t miss the grilling- broiling worked great in my opinion. 

Having the shrimp on the skewers made them easy to quickly flip halfway through broiling time- rather than having to take the time to flip each individual shrimpie.  I think I would probably leave the tails on my shrimp if I didn’t thread them onto skewers.

The orzo I made to go with these kabobs kind of reminds me of a version of mac’n’cheese.  I used Monterey Jack cheese and stirred in a little cilantro pesto at the end- it made for a great side dish to this (and any) protein.  I had a lot of green going on that evening.  I served the shrimp and orzo with roasted zucchini sticks.  Oops.  But it was all so yummy, anyway, so niether my Fireman or myself minded one bit. 

I have decided that this is probably the least photogenic meals ever.  I take that back.. my Crispy Fish wasn’t that ‘pretty’ either.  My Instagram photo made for a prettier picture I think..

Burry or not, I still go my share of pesto shrimp love.

Cilantro Pesto Shrimp & Cheesy Pesto Orzo

Yield: 4 servings

Serving Size: 8 shrimp and 1/2 cup orzo

Cilantro Pesto Shrimp adapted from Jenn-Fit


  • 1 1/2 pounds fresh or frozen large shrimp, peeled and de-veined (about 32 shrimp)
  • 8 wooden skewers
  • Pesto (Makes about 1 cup)
  • 2 cups packed fresh cilantro (about 1 large bunch)
  • 2 cups packed baby spinach
  • The zest of one fresh lemon
  • The juice of one fresh lemon (about 2-3 tablespoons)
  • 2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • Orzo
  • 2 cups organic vegetable broth
  • 1 cup whole wheat orzo (such as Rice Selects)
  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded Monterrey Jack Cheese
  • 3 tablespoons prepared Cilantro Pesto
  • 3 tablespoons skim milk or broth
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper



Combine cilantro and spinach in a food processor, pulse until broken down. Add in the zest, lemon juice, pine nuts, garlic, and Parmesan cheese, blending until combined, scraping down the sides. Gradually pour in the olive oil through the food chute with the processor spinning. Scrape down the sides as needed. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside- reserving 3 tablespoons for the Pesto Orzo.


In a medium saucepan, bring broth to a boil. Add the orzo, reduce heat to medium for a low boil or simmer. Cook pasta for 12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the orzo is tender and the liquid is absorbed. Stir in milk (or broth), cheese, and reserved pesto until cheese is melted. Add in salt and pepper as needed.


Toss the shrimp with the remaining pesto in a large mixing bowl (glass or plastic- not metal). Marinate in the fridge for 30 minutes and up to 2 hours. If you are in a pinch- you do not have to marinate the shrimp beforehand.

Preheat the broiler to HI.

Thread 4 shrimp onto each skewer and arrange on a large parchment lined rimmed baking sheet- making sure the shrimp are not touching. You can fit about 4 skewers on each large baking sheet.

Broil on high 8-10 minutes, turning the skewers after 4-5 minutes.

Serve with shrimp with prepared orzo.

Nutritional Information:

Calories: 422; Fat: 21 g; Carbohydrate: 33 g; Fiber: 7 g; Protein: 28 g

Cheesy Pesto Orzo (ONLY): Calories: 236; Fat: 9 g; Carbohydrate: 30 g; Fiber: 7 g; Protein: 10 g


  1. Love the cilantro pesto here!

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