Pesto Chicken Pasta

You can’t go wrong with a bowl of pesto chicken pasta for dinner! This chicken pesto pasta is ready in under 30 minutes and is packed fresh flavors!

Sometimes 30-minute meals can be a lifesaver in a pinch. You don’t have to sacrifice flavor for a quick dinner! These 30-minute Thai chicken lettuce wraps or this 30-minute spicy butternut squash soup recipe are also great easy dinners!

pesto chicken pasta in a bowl

Easy Weeknight Dinners

It’s no secret that we try to do it ALL. The world is our oyster and sometimes we really pack our weeks with all the things. I am someone who has a hard time slowing down. I’ve learned that it’s ok to have busy weeks and it’s ok to need a break!

One thing I don’t like to sacrifice when I do have busy weeks is cooking and healthy food! Cooking is a type of meditation for me and though I don’t want to slave all night on a meal, making a 30-minute meal can really calm my nerves on crazy nights.

Vegetables are also something I try to squeeze in no matter what my week is like. Whether it is a pint of tomatoes in a pasta or a couple of handfuls of arugula (yes I do that) it always makes me feel more alive.

#1 Tip for You

When you are tight for time, here is the #1 tip I have for you…

Keep it simple. If you haven’t meal prepped (because let’s be real, sometimes it’s just not an option), keep dinner simple by taking a step back and looking at what you have in the pantry.

My go-to easy meal is to heat some olive oil in a saute pan. From there, I add whatever chopped veggies I have in the refrigerator and I toss those veggies with some pasta.

You can just sprinkle a little cheese, salt, and pepper over the pasta and you’re done. Or? If you have any fresh herbs or arugula, that adds so much flavor, too!

It can be easy, delicious, and stress-free! If you happen to have pesto in the pantry, give this pesto chicken pasta a try!

How to Make Chicken Pesto Pasta

If I had to choose one country to live in other than the USA, it would be ITALY. It feeds my soul (and my belly). It is a magical country that means so much to me. I studied abroad there, traveled there, made lifetime friends there, and learned some crazy lessons.

I met a dear friend living there and she taught me everything I know about cooking Italian food. Pesto pasta is one of her specialties. You just can’t go wrong with pasta tossed in a delicious pesto!

This chicken pesto pasta is a little bit of a twist on a classic pesto chicken pasta!

Step 1

Make the Pesto

We have a classic and simple homemade pesto recipe on Fit Foodie and that is what we use when we mix up a tasty pesto recipe! You really just throw everything in a blender or food processor and let it go!

Feel free to make this pesto your own by throwing in a handful of different nuts! I love adding pistachios or some walnuts, too! The beauty of pesto is that it is made with simple ingredients and you can’t really screw it up.

Here’s a tip–> Make a batch of pesto at the end of the summer with fresh basil! Pour the pesto into ice cube trays and then transfer those cubes into a large airtight container in the freezer. From there you can use a couple of cubes whenever you need pesto!

pesto in a jar

Step 2

Prep All the Ingredients

After prepping the pesto, it’s time to prep your ingredients. I like to prep things in phases. Pesto is done so you are done with that until later.

Next up is boiling the noodles! Feel free to use any noodle that you like! We chose a whole wheat penne, but white pasta would work too. The most important thing when boiling your pasta is to make sure you add salt to the water before adding the pasta!

It doesn’t have to be a ton of salt, but just a pinch or two of salt in the water will add a little extra flavor to the whole dish, which will really show when the dish is done!

Right before the pasta is ready, remove about a 1/4 cup of starchy pasta water for the sauce and then remove the pasta from heat and strain the water and set it aside for a moment.

Chop up the chicken and veggies and get ready to saute!

pesto chicken pasta ingredients

Step 3

Sauce It Up

There are a couple of different steps to this pasta sauce. Begin by heating a large skillet over medium-high heat. Then add the olive oil to the pan. When the olive oil is fragrant, add chicken and Italian seasoning.

I always make sure to season in layers when it comes to pasta dishes. Seasoning the chicken will give this pasta an extra punch of flavor at the end. And? You’ll end up using less salt if you salt a little bit throughout the cooking process.

After chicken is fully cooked, remove it from the pan. Add the rest of the olive oil to the pan and then add the onions. Cook for about 2 minutes and then add the garlic.

When garlic is fragrant add the chicken broth. Why do we use chicken broth? We use chicken broth to add a base for the pesto pasta! Once the broth has reduced by half add the tomatoes.

Let the tomatoes cook down for a couple of minutes and then lastly (and FINALLY) add a couple of tablespoons of starchy water and pesto to the pan.

Whisk everything together until it creates a sauce. If you drag your spoon across the bottom of the pan, there should be a film on the bottom of the pan! That means you’re ready to add the chicken and pasta to the pan!

Make sure all ingredients are covered in pesto and nice and HOT!

pesto chicken pasta ingredients in a pan

Step 4

Serve It Up

BOOM. You’ve got yourself a big batch of pesto chicken pasta. Top the pesto chicken pasta with fresh parmesan and fresh basil.

If you are serving this pesto chicken pasta at a dinner party, serve it in a large bowl and serve it family-style with delicious warm, crunchy bread and a bottle of red wine. You just can’t go wrong!

pesto chicken pasta in a bowl

Healthy Recipes with Pesto

Recipe

Chicken Pesto Pasta

You can’t go wrong with a bowl of pesto chicken pasta for dinner! This pesto chicken pasta is ready in under 30 minutes and packed with delicious, fresh flavors!

  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 35 minutes
Author: Lee Funke
Yield: 6 1x
Category: Dinner
Method: Stove top
Cuisine: Italian

Ingredients

  • 8 oz. whole wheat penne pasta
  • 1/81/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1.5 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breast (cut into 1-inch chunks)
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 10 oz. cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 3 tablespoons starchy water
  • 6 tablespoons pesto, divided
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground pepper
  • toppings: fresh basil and parmesan cheese

Instructions

  1. First, fill a large pot about 3/4 of the way full of water and add about 1/8-1/4 teaspoon of salt to the water. Bring to a boil.
  2. Add pasta and let the pasta cook for about 7-9 minutes or until pasta is al dente. Remove about a 1/4 cup of starchy pasta water and set it aside for later.
  3. Strain the water from the pasta and set it aside for later.
  4. Next, heat a large skillet pan over medium/high heat. Add two tablespoons of olive oil to the pan once it’s hot.
  5. When olive oil is fragrant, add chicken and Italian seasoning. Cook the chicken for about 4-6 minutes or until chicken is fully cooked. Remove from the pan.
  6. Add another tablespoon of olive oil to the same pan and then add the onions. Cook for about 2 minutes, stirring frequently.
  7. Next, add the garlic to the onions. When garlic is fragrant add the chicken broth to the pan.
  8. Cook mixture for 3-4 minutes until the broth reduces to half and then addd cherry tomatoes and let them cook for 2 minutes.
  9. Finally, add starchy water and pesto to the pan and bring the mixture to a boil.
  10. Lastly, add cooked chicken and pasta to the pan. Mix until all ingredients are covered with pesto sauce.
  11. Season with ground pepper and top with fresh basil and parmesan cheese.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1/6
  • Calories: 311
  • Sugar: 1
  • Fat: 18
  • Carbohydrates: 11
  • Fiber: 2
  • Protein: 1
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