Seafood Pasta with Spinach-Basil Pesto

When I can combine some of my favorite foods like shrimp, scallops and pasta I’m in heaven.  When you add some fresh herbs, some heat, a little citrus and some calamari I’ve reached nirvana.   This dish is a feast for the senses and my way of welcoming  Spring.

Seafood Pasta with Spinach/Basil Pesto | Simply Fresh Dinners

This recipe was created after my nephew and I had a joint birthday celebration at our favorite pizza place.  Each time we go there I order the tsunami pizza which is very spicy but this last time I was tempted by a seafood pasta dish.  In the end I went with the pizza but later in the week I phoned the manager, Martin, who was kind enough to give me the framework of the recipe.  Their pesto is top secret so I made my own but I wanted to put a twist on it so that worked out perfectly.

Seafood Pasta with Spinach/Basil Pesto | Simply Fresh Dinners

Topping this dish with basil, lemon and chopped tomatoes makes it special.  So many fresh flavors!  Buy your shrimp, scallops and calamari frozen and this recipe ticks off all the check marks  – quick, easy, fresh, budget-wise and scrumptious.  If the kids are a little reluctant about the calamari, just leave them out.  It took me awhile to get used to them too and I would never have gone near them as a kid!

My friend, Teri, from No Crumbs Left (you MUST visit her blog!) arranged to have some harissa sent to me and I loved using it in the pesto for this dish.  I love a pasta/pesto combo but I like a little heat too so this was the perfect solution.  Quinoa spaghetti was perfect for this dish and I use this type of pasta now for all my dishes.  Quinoa is so good for you and I’ve had a lot of fun cooking up many healthy dishes this past year.

Next up is harissa trout with quinoa – can’t wait!

Seafood Pasta with Spinach/Basil Pesto | Simply Fresh Dinners

How are you going to celebrate Spring?  Got the fever yet?   If you’re cooking up this dish or any of my dishes, take a pic and share it with me using #simplyfreshdinners on Instagram or Twitter.  Cheers!

Seafood Pasta with Spinach-Basil Pesto
Cuisine: Italian
Author: Robyn @ Simply Fresh Dinners (adapted from Pie Restaurant)
Serves: 4
Shrimp, scallops and calamari on quinoa spaghetti. Add a little harissa to the pesto and you’ve got some delicious heat in this fresh meal that celebrates the senses.
  • Pesto
  • 2 cups spinach, chopped
  • 1 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 1-2 teaspoons of harissa (according to taste)
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • Pasta
  • 1 pound spaghetti (use quinoa, spinach, whole wheat)
  • Sauce
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup red onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup pesto (use more if desired)
  • Seafood
  • 12 large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 24 small scallops, (use 12 if going with large scallops, remove tough foot muscles)
  • 24 small calamari (thawed)
  • Toppings (Optional)
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • handful of fresh basil
  • 1 lemon, sliced
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
  1. Add all ingredients except olive oil to food processor and pulse a few times. Slowly add the olive oil and continue to pulse until it reaches a thick, creamy consistency.
  1. Cook according to directions. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water, drain and rinse with cold water. Set aside
  1. Heat butter and olive oil in large saucepan on med-high heat for 2 minutes. Add onions, garlic and pesto, cook for 4 minutes.
  2. Add calamari, cook for 2 minutes. Add shrimp and scallops and cook for 1.5 minutes per side.
  3. Turn heat off, keeping pan on stove top.Add pasta and 1/4 cup pasta water, mixing well until pasta soaks up the liquid and pesto.
  4. Remove from heat and serve up in individual bowls. Top with tomatoes, fresh basil, and lemon twist. Parmesan is optional.



  • Reply
    March 13, 2016 at 5:20 pm

    Such a lovely dish Robyn. You now I love shrimp and pasta, so this dish is a winner in my book.
    I hope your weekend is going well. We are getting lots of rain. Lots of love from W.W. xo
    Linda recently posted…Dishing it & Digging It Link party #87My Profile

    • Reply
      March 14, 2016 at 9:37 am

      I know you love them, Linda, and you’ll love how easy and fresh this is. Lots of rain here today but the weekend was fabulous 🙂 Talk soon. xoxo
      Robyn recently posted…Seafood Pasta with Spinach-Basil PestoMy Profile

  • Reply
    Anita Rivera
    March 13, 2016 at 5:22 pm

    Good evening my sweet! I love pesto. I love pasta. I love pasta with pesto and….just about ANYTHING! But pair it up with seafood and butter and olive oil, and I think that has to be the dish of the gods!!!!!!! Lovely.

    I hope you enjoy a marvelous week of love-filled happiness.

    • Reply
      March 14, 2016 at 9:39 am

      A little bit of butter is just what we need now and then, don’t you think? I really loved this dish and was so happy the restaurant shared the recipe with me! Do you have March break soon, Anita? We could chat then and catch up on our photography adventures! xoxo
      Robyn recently posted…Seafood Pasta with Spinach-Basil PestoMy Profile

  • Reply
    Jennifer @ Seasons and Suppers
    March 13, 2016 at 8:13 pm

    Absolutely beautiful dish! Love shrimp and scallops and pasta and so much other flavour going on in this dish. Will definitely be putting on the menu 🙂
    Jennifer @ Seasons and Suppers recently posted…Cranberry Balsamic Pork TenderloinMy Profile

    • Reply
      March 14, 2016 at 9:40 am

      Thanks so much, Jennifer. Shrimp and pasta are just the best, don’t you think? I’m sure I could spend all my time doing recipes just for those two ingredients, lol.
      Robyn recently posted…Seafood Pasta with Spinach-Basil PestoMy Profile

  • Reply
    March 13, 2016 at 11:10 pm

    Sadly, I developed a shellfish allergy a couple of years ago, and my family mourns the loss — I’ll have to surprise them with this fabulous dish!
    sue|theviewfromgreatisland recently posted…Milk Chocolate Marbleized BarkMy Profile

    • Reply
      March 14, 2016 at 9:42 am

      Oh gosh, Sue, that’s no fun! Thank goodness you’re such a creative cook though and have so many other beautiful dishes. Your bark is so fun!
      Robyn recently posted…Seafood Pasta with Spinach-Basil PestoMy Profile

  • Reply
    Bam's Kitchen
    March 14, 2016 at 2:49 am

    So light and lovely and loving that really fun zip of harissa in this dish. Is it okay if I add this dish to my seafood round up post? I like how you tossed the noodles into this bowl. Sharing, pinning, smoke signals sent!
    Bam’s Kitchen recently posted…Sichuan Pepper BeefMy Profile

  • Reply
    Blair @ The Seasoned Mom
    March 14, 2016 at 9:31 am

    I love, love, love your fresh and healthy seafood recipes. This pasta dish is beautiful!!
    Blair @ The Seasoned Mom recently posted…Bacon Cheddar and Chive MuffinsMy Profile

  • Reply
    Tricia @ Saving room for dessert
    March 14, 2016 at 10:06 am

    This looks so clean and fresh and I bet the flavor is amazing. Love the addition of harissa. Pinning and sharing!
    Tricia @ Saving room for dessert recently posted…Mango-Ginger Breakfast BowlMy Profile

  • Reply
    March 14, 2016 at 11:12 am

    Hi Robyn, we are having shrimp tonight for dinner too, after seeing this I think I should pick up some scallops as well. Love all the flavor you have jam packed in this, looks amazing~!!!! Happy Monday to you!
    cheri recently posted…Strawberry ToastMy Profile

  • Reply
    March 14, 2016 at 2:06 pm

    Why do I read you blog on an empty stomach?! You have me starving for that lovely dish. Seafood and pasta is a favorite combination. I have never used harissa but I do like a little kick in some dishes. So thankful you give us healthy recipes but with so much flavorful goodness packed inside.
    Mindy recently posted…Giving Thanks FridayMy Profile

  • Reply
    Chris Scheuer
    March 14, 2016 at 4:15 pm

    I love being inspired by restaurants. This is a beautiful dish Robyn and would be so perfect for a spring dinner on the back porch or patio.

  • Reply
    March 14, 2016 at 4:37 pm

    I have cioppino on the menu this week, and now you have me wanting to make this instead! Gorgeous and perfect for spring!

  • Reply
    Diane (Created by Diane)
    March 15, 2016 at 11:54 pm

    What a gorgeous bowl full of all my favorites, I bet it tastes amazing!
    Diane (Created by Diane) recently posted…Chicken Parmesan MeatballsMy Profile

  • Reply
    March 20, 2016 at 9:04 am

    Hi Robyn,
    This looks and sounds delicious and healthy. What a great Springtime dish! Thanks for sharing on Real Food Fridays. Pinned & tweeted!
    Marla recently posted…“It’s all about Bananas – World’s First Cultivated Fruit!”My Profile

  • Reply
    December 2, 2016 at 7:52 pm

    Making this now – looks fabulous. But how much parm cheese for the pesto, please? Says 1/4 parm cheese? I’m hoping it’s a cup because that’s what I just put in there. : )

    • Reply
      December 3, 2016 at 6:39 am

      Hi Susan, Yes, it’s a quarter cup! I’d love to hear your comments on the finished dish! Did you love it as much as I do? 🙂

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