Asparagus-Spinach Pesto Pasta with Blackened Shrimp

Oh. My. I barely have the words to describe the deliciousness of this dish. I LOVE making my own pesto because I can control how much olive oil goes into it. This pesto is (obviously) made with asparagus and spinach... two ingredients I don't even usually like. But this is awesome. If you love pasta (seriously, who doesn't?), pesto, and shrimp... this is for you!!!

Pasta Ingredients:
1 lb (16 oz) dried pasta (I used Ronzoni Veggie Pasta)
1 lb raw shrimp, peeled and deveined (I buy frozen shrimp - peeled, deveined & caught in the US!)
2-3 tbsp blackening powder
1/4 c toasted pine nuts
asparagus-spinach pesto (see ingredients below)

Asparagus-Spinach Pesto Ingredients:
1 bunch asparagus spears (about 1 lb), ends trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
3 c baby spinach leaves, loosely packed
4 cloves garlic, peeled
1/2 c grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for topping
1/4 c toasted pine nuts
2 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 c extra-virgin olive oil (or less)

To Make The Pasta:
Cook the pasta in a large pot of salted water al dente according to package instructions.
Meanwhile, add the shrimp to a small bowl and toss with the blackening powder until covered. Spray olive oil in a large saute pan and heat over medium heat. Add in the shrimp, and saute for 5 minutes, turning occasionally, until the shrimp are cooked through and pink and no longer translucent. Turn off the heat, and transfer shrimp to a separate plate and set aside.
When the pasta is al dente, reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water then drain the pasta. (I did not need to use this 1/2 c water). Return the pasta either to the stockpot where it was cooked, or to the saute pan (with the stove heat turned off). Add the pesto to the pasta, and toss until evenly coated, adding in a bit of the reserved pasta water if needed to thin the pasta. Then stir in the shrimp and pine nuts, and serve immediately sprinkled with some extra Parmesan cheese.
To Make The Pesto:
Fill a separate medium saucepan or stockpot with water, and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the asparagus spears and cook for 2-3 minutes, until the spears are bright green and barely tender. Remove the asparagus with a slotted spoon and transfer to a bowl filled with ice water to stop the cooking.
Add the asparagus, spinach, garlic, Parmesan, pine nuts, lemon juice and salt to the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Process until combined. Then, with the motor running, drizzle in the olive oil until it is incorporated. As mentioned above, if the pesto seems too thick, add in a bit of pasta water to thin it out.
Original recipe found here.

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