Linguine with Shrimp and Cilantro Lime Pesto

The weeknight warriors have done it again, this time with a delicious pasta recipe.

My role in the whole operation was limited to finding a recipe after Mr. TBTAM and I agreed over the phone on the ingredients we had in mind – shrimp, lime, pasta. I emailed him the recipe, then went back to work, strolling in the door at 7 to younger daughter having a piano lesson and Mr .TBTAM reading in the den, the table set, salad made, pasta water simmering and the ingredients for the meal prepped and waiting for the final cook after the lesson was over. I quickly made a lemon vinaigrette for the salad and started some applesauce cooking for dessert while Mr. TBTAM cooked and assembled the pasta.

But hey, I did the dishes, so it all comes out even.

Linguine with Shrimp & Cilantro-Lime Pesto
Modified from Bon Appetit, July 2010

This recipe uses Cotijo cheese, or Mexican Parmesan, an artisan cheese made from cow’s milk taken during the rainy season when the grass grows on the mountainside. Coteja is sort of a cross between a mild feta and a parmesan – salty, white, softer than parmesan, but easily crumbled – and does not melt when cooked. We found ours at Fairway, where it was very reasonably priced. You can substitute Feta if you can’t find Cotija.

I was taken aback by the final calorie count on this recipe – for 4 servings, it’s a whopping 830 calories each. Of course, one does not have to have an entire 1/4 pound of pasta per serving, but this stuff is so good it’s like crack. Next time, I’ll portion it to serve 6, cut back the olive oil to 1/4 cup, the tequila to 2 tbsp and up the lime juice to 4 tbsp total to lose some calories – I don’t think it will hurt it at all.  Any other suggestions on lightening this dish without losing its oomph would be most appreciated.


  • 1 1/2 cups fresh cilantro leaves, plus 1/4 cup chopped
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped scallions
  • 3 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 2 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1 tbsp chopped, seeded serrano pepper
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lb linguine
  • 1 lb medium shrimp, peeled, deveined
  • 3 tbsp tequila
  • 1/4 cup crumbled Cotija cheese


Blend 1 1/4 cups cilantro leaves and next 4 ingredients in processor until coarse puree forms. With machine running, gradually add 1/2 cup oil. Season with salt.

Cook linguine in large pot of boiling salted water until al dente. Drain. Meanwhile, heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add shrimp and cook until almost opaque in center, about 3 minutes. Remove skillet from heat; add tequila. Return skillet to heat and stir until sauce is syrupy, about 30 seconds. Add pesto; stir to coat. Remove from heat.

Add pasta to sauce in skillet; toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper. To serve, plate and sprinkle with Cotija cheese and chopped cilantro.

I’m not the only one making this pasta.

  • Michael Beyer does a gorgeous big plating.
  • Mardi suggests a splash of lime juice at serving. Turns out that’s just what my daughter did.
  • Erin made hers with Parmesan and Feta and added some hot pepper flakes.
  • Sally at Bewitching Kitchen notes that it’s unusual to find fish and cheese paired so well.
  • Shea Evans and his cat takes a pretty pic of this pasta.
  • Eye for a Recipe shows you what the pesto looks like before being added to the pasta. Hmmm!!
  • Jennifer makes the pasta while recovering from a belly dancing lesson. That’s one way to work off the calories.
  • Amanda is as excited as I am to have discovered Cotija cheese.

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