Green and Gluten Free Shrimp Pasta

I am finding more and more people are allergic to gluten.  I have had some close friends remove gluten from their diets, and I thought it was by choice.  But apparently more and more people are becoming allergic to gluten and their bodies are having awful, painful reactions to it.  For a long time, it was difficult for those people to find ready made products in the store.  Now, it seems more and more packaged items are coming gluten free.  For example, Barilla pastas.  I was so excited to see this box of penne pasta and knew that this week's fit recipe had to include it.

One of my favorite pasta sauces is pesto.  But since I was trying to create this from scratch, I thought I'd
beef it up a bit with some superfoods - asparagus, spinach, avocado, basil.  All green, all full of awesome nutrients.  If you prefer, you can leave the cheese out of the sauce.  I added it to be more like a traditional pesto sauce.  Either way, this sauce is thicker than a normal pesto because of the avocado.  It coats the pasta well, it's chock full of flavor, and it's very hearty.

I chose to use cooked shrimp mainly for getting the dish on the table quickly.  But because I used cooked shrimp, I made sure not to reheat it for too long.  If you do that, the shrimp will curl up tight and become tough.  Just tossing it with the hot oil will be enough.  Serving the pasta, shrimp, and green sauce gives you a well rounded meal with healthy carbs, protein, and vegis.  Simply awesome.

Green and Gluten Free Shrimp Pasta


1 bunch asparagus, ends removed and cut in half
1 box (12 oz.) Barilla Gluten Free Penne Pasta
1 lb. cooked shrimp, tail on
1 Tbs. seasoned salt
1/4 cup pine nuts
2 Tbs. olive oil
2 avocados
3 cups baby spinach leaves
1/3 cup chopped fresh basil
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup pine nuts
5 cloves garlic
salt and pepper
4 Tbs. lemon juice
1/2 cup parmesan cheese


1. Fill a medium saucepan halfway with water.  Bring to a boil.  Add asparagus.  Cook for 3-5 minutes to blanch.  Remove asparagus with tongs and add to an ice water bath immediately to stop cooking.  Do NOT discard water.  Set aside.

2. Prepare pasta according to directions on box.  Drain pasta.

3. While pasta is cooking, prepare shrimp.  Remove tails from shrimp and rinse under cold water.  Pour season salt into a ziploc bag and add shrimp.  Shake bag to coat shrimp.  Preheat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add shrimp and 1/4 cup pine nuts to hot skillet and toss with olive oil for 2-3 minutes, just to heat shrimp through.  Place lid on skillet to keep hot.

4. Place asparagus, avocado, spinach, basil, olive oil, remaining pine nuts, garlic, salt and pepper, lemon juice, and parmesan cheese into a food processor.  Add 1/2 cup hot water from asparagus saucepan.  Process until smooth, adding more water as needed until desired consistency is reached.

5. Pour 1 cup of pasta onto a plate, top with green sauce and shrimp.  Serve immediately.

Serves 4-5
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