Cilantro Pesto Stuffed Shrimp

Recipe courtesy of Chef Bren Ankrum – Culinary Editor

This is a very tasty and a little spicy dish with great eye appeal. I like to serve them with yucca fries with a honey mustard dip and a cold black bean and mango salad.


Equipment/ utensils required:

Chef’s knife, cutting board, cast iron skillet or flat grill, mixing bowl, food processor


12 jumbo shrimp (Key West Pinks preferably), shells on, split down the back

½ bunch of cilantro leaves

6 cloves poached garlic

4 small fresh hot chiles, Thai or other.  May substitute crushed red pepper, 1 tsp. or 2 tsp. of chile paste)

Juice of ½ lemon

Pinch of Salt

¼ tsp. Black pepper


Cilantro Pesto Stuffed Key West Pink Shrimp
  1. With the heads removed and shell left on, using a sharp chef’s knife, split the back of the shrimp shell starting just above the first segment above the tail. Slice carefully through the majority of the flesh, almost to the belly or leg portion of the shell.
  2. Place all of the ingredients into a food processor, except the shrimp and peanut oil, and chop to a paste like mix.
  3. Put approximately 1 tsp. of the cilantro pesto into the crevasse created when you cut the shrimp.
  4. When all the shrimp are stuffed place on a baking sheet or plate and refrigerate, covered for about 15 to 30 minutes to allow the pesto to marinate the shrimp.
  5. Heat a flat grill or large cast iron skillet to medium high, add the peanut oil and then lay carefully each shrimp, on its side, onto the grill or into the skillet, cook 3 to 4 minutes or until you begin to see the flesh on the bottom edges turn a white-ish color. Turn the shrimp to the other side and cook until the desired degree of cooking is complete. Flesh should be cooked all the way through but not dried or tough. Remember that the shrimp will continue to cook once removed from the heat source so it is better, in my opinion, to cook only as long as it takes to firm the flesh.

Serves: 2

Nutritional Information per serving:

Calories 139, Fat 1.4 gm, Cholesterol 221 mg, Sodium 332 mg, Carbohydrates 6.1 gm, Protein 24.9 gm.

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