Delicious Chicken Pesto Pasta: Ready in Under 30 Minutes

Erin Swenson, Food Blogger

Chicken Pesto Pasta Plate

Chicken Pesto Pasta is easy to make and equally delicious whether it is served hot or cold. Pesto is a flavor packed savory sauce traditionally made with basil, pine nuts, parmesan, and olive oil. This fresh nutty sauce is perfect on sandwiches, pizzas, and pastas. It makes the perfect dinner or lunch and is delicious as leftovers.  

Let’s talk about pasta. There are so many different types of pasta to choose from, different shapes as well as different ingredients used. For this dish any shape of pasta will work, but some personal favorites are fusilli, bowtie, rotini and shells. These allow for the pesto sauce to really coat them. When trying to boost the nutrient content of a pasta dish there are a few ways this can be done.

First, look for whole grain pasta. Whole grain pasta is higher in fiber, protein, and other nutrients than its non whole grain counterparts. Higher fiber and protein content help keep you full longer.  It also tends to be lower in calories. The other type of pasta to look for is high protein pasta. High protein pasta is generally made with flour made from beans, like chickpeas or lentils. This is the type of pasta you want to look for if you are on a gluten free diet or if you are trying to reduce your carbohydrates. Again, higher protein content helps keep you feeling full for longer.

Pesto sauce. There are so many options when it comes to pesto sauce. You can usually find it in both the refrigerated section and the pasta section of your local grocery store. The sauces found in the refrigerated section tend to taste brighter and fresher than those that are on the shelf with the rest of the pasta sauces. Trader Joe’s sells a vegan, kale, cashew and basil pesto sauce in their refrigerated section that is a personal favorite at my house. Fresh homemade pesto only takes a few minutes and 5 ingredients. It can be made in advance and frozen or refrigerated.

Mozzarella cheese is lower in sodium and calories than other cheeses, making it a good option if you are following the DASH diet or simply trying to reduce sodium in your diet. I prefer to use fresh mozzarella in this chicken pesto pasta, but if all you have is grated mozzarella that works too. You can buy mozzarella pearls that are the perfect size for this recipe.

Pine nuts come from the seed of the pine tree. Like all nuts they are high in fat and protein. They are delicious both raw and toasted. For this recipe I just add them raw, but if you prefer toasted then toast away. They help add texture and depth to this chicken pesto pasta dish. They are also a delicious addition to any salad. If you don’t have pine nuts on hand this recipe is delicious without them.

The chicken in this dish can be canned, grilled, or from a rotisserie chicken. 

  • Cook pasta according to package instructions.
  • While pasta is cooking, cut cheese into ¼ inch cubes, cut tomatoes, spinach, and cooked chicken into bite sized pieces.
  • Once pasta is done cooking, drain it and add it to a large mixing bowl with the rest of the ingredients. Mix well and enjoy!

Chicken Pesto Pasta Recipe

Servings: 8 Prep Time: 5 Minutes Cook Time: 15 Minutes Total Time: 25 Minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups cooked chicken breasts
  • ½-1 cup pesto sauce
  • 2 cups diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups fresh chopped spinach
  • ½ pound diced fresh mozzarella
  • ½ cup grated parmesan
  • 1 pound pasta 
  • ¼ cup pine nuts
  1. Cook pasta according to package instructions.
  2. While pasta is cooking, cut cheese into ¼ inch cubes, tomatoes, spinach, and cooked chicken.
  3. Once pasta is done cooking, drain it and add it to a large mixing bowl with the rest of the ingredients.
  4. Mix well and enjoy hot or cold
Chicken Pesto Pasta

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *