Grilled Shrimp Kabobs with Arugula-Walnut Pesto

Easy bite-size shrimps on skewers are grilled until they are lightly brown, then topped with a fresh pesto sauce made with arugula and walnuts.  So good, the arugula-walnut pesto is what enhances the flavors of the grilled shrimp making these the best tasting shrimp kabobs! And, it makes a terrific appetizer to serve your guests on any weekend!

When we have friends over, we like to have at least one fun finger-food appetizer that we can prepare, grill and have it ready just before everyone arrives.  I love this recipe because I can prepare the arugula-walnut pesto sauce early in the morning, then grill the shrimp later in the day.

The arugula-walnut pesto sauce is made with fresh arugula, basil, walnuts, olive oil, garlic and grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.  It was so good, I couldn't stop licking my spoon.

To save some time, I prefer buying already peeled and cleaned shrimp.  You can find them fresh at your local seafood market for a few pennies more, and for a little more money they do all the work for you.  I love that, and for me that alone is worth it!

Though these shrimp kabobs were bite-sized, they were perfect to complete a full platter,  enough for our everyone to have more than one kabob before dinner.  The shrimp kabobs are equally good served hot, room temperature or even cold.  Just chill them after they're grilled and serve with the arugula-walnut pesto spread on top. Don't forget to leave some extra in a small bowl for dipping!

Keep in mind, if you are entertaining you may want to eliminate the nuts in case any guest may have nut allergies.  Serve shrimp kabobs with pesto sauce on the side or lightly spoon some arugula-walnut pesto over the shrimp and serve.   Enjoy!

Here's a tip:  Best to keep unused pesto stored in the refrigerator for up to one week, or frozen up to two months.  Make sure you drizzle a small layer of olive oil over the top surface to prevent discoloration and seal tightly.

Nutritional facts for pesto sauce: ( per 2 Tbsp. serving): 90 calories, 10g fat, 1.5g saturated fats, 0mg cholesterol, 2g protein, 1g carbs, 0g sugar.

Grilled Shrimp Kabobs with Arugula-Walnut Pesto

  • 1 pound small or medium size fresh shrimp-cleaned, peeled, deveined
  • 3 cups arugula- rinsed, stems removed
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves, firmly packed
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
  •  fresh cracked black pepper
  • 3/4 cup walnut halves
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra
  • 1 lemon juiced -divided
  • 8 inch skewers
  • organic cooking spray, for grill

Rinse shrimp under cold water and drain.
Season shrimp lightly with salt and pepper. Squeeze fresh lemon juice over them.
Thread shrimp onto skewers, about 3 shrimps per skewer.

Heat and spray a non-stick grill pan with cooking spray.
Grill shrimp kabobs for about 3 to 4 minutes per side.  Add a squeeze of lemon juice over them while grilling. When shrimp is cooked, transfer to a serving platter.

For the Pesto Sauce:
Place the arugula, basil leaves, garlic and 1/4 teaspoon of salt into blender or a food processor.  Pulse until coarsely chopped, scraping down the sides of bowl as needed.

Add the nuts and parmesan cheese and pulse three to four times, until all ingredients are well combined.  With machine running on low speed, slowly stream in the oil until desired consistency is reached.  It should resemble a loose paste.

Stir in 1 to 2 teaspoons of fresh lemon juice.  Best made the same day serving.
Lightly spoon or brush pesto sauce over the shrimp kabobs.  Serve.
Refrigerate any remaining unused pesto sauce.

Yields: 2 cups pesto sauce and approx. 14 to 16 kabobs

Recipe adapted from House Calls Magazine Summer 2013
Thanks for stopping by! 
Warmly, Anna and Liz
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  1. Oh this is so pretty! Perfect for company. Give me a piece of crusty bread and I would be in heaven. I love the peppery flavor of arugula - I know this must be tasty. yummy :)

  2. Anna and Liz,

    Oh how I love a great pesto! The arugula and walnuts make this extra flavorful! Your photos are so beautiful and professional! What a pleasure it is for me to visit your blog!


  3. That's such a fun pesto flavor! I need to use arugula in my pesto more often.

  4. Thank you so much for sharing this grilled Shrimp Stir Fry kabobs with arugula walnut pesto recipe. It looks so unique and I want to try it so that I can serve it to my family and I'm hoping they will like this. Keep on sharing!

  5. LOVE this sauce for shrimp!

  6. oh... shrimps are my favourite 'meat'.. they are so soft... and i totally love your sauce...

  7. It seems that you've done it again. A beautiful, original, and deliciously summer recipe. Thanks for sharing this one, Ladies!

  8. What a wonderful dish. I adore arugula pesto. Arugula has notes of walnuts on its own, so adding them to the mix is a perfect idea! Bravissime!

  9. These photos are so vibrant - such a wonderful meal to eat this time of year.

  10. What a lovely pesto! I've not tried an arugula pesto yet but love the idea. Shrimp is a favorite for entertaining and this is a wonderful idea for a first course.


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