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Easy Pesto Pasta with Chicken

5 from 1 vote

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You are going to fall in love with this easy pesto pasta with chicken recipe. It is by far the best pesto pasta recipe that has been created for families. It’s easy to create and easy to pair delicious chicken or any other protein as a side. This is a 30 minute recipe that you will use time and time again.

Over head view of Easy Pesto Pasta. Showing chicken, mozzarella, pasta and basil
Easy Pasto Pasta with Chicken

Fresh and Delicious Pesto

Traditionally pesto is created with fresh basil leaves, olive oil, lemon juice, pine nuts and garlic. You place all these ingredients in the food processor, blend it up and you have a beautiful, bright green basil pesto that goes perfect with anything. If you are busy and don’t have time to make homemade pesto sauce, this recipe is perfect. It calls for pesto from the grocery store that is either in the deli or by pasta sauce. There are two types of pesto that you can use. The type of pesto that can be used is either traditional or creamy pesto. 

Inside easy pesto pasta with chicken

  • Pasta; The type of pasta in the recipe is cavatappi. You can use any type of pasta from penne, bow tie to rigatoni. It’s just your preference. Buy a good quality pasta that will give you a nice bite.
  • Chicken; I used thin cut chicken breast. You can cut a full chicken breast in half. And use your mallet to pound it out very thin to shorten cooking time.
  • Creamy basil pesto; This recipe utilizes store-bought pesto. You can also create your own homemade pesto.
  • Chicken broth; using chicken broth will help create a nice binder for the sauce.
  • Reserve pasta water; saving the starchy pasta water from the cooked noodles is essential to creating a great sauce or your dish.
  • Fresh garlic; using fresh garlic will help increase the flavors throughout the dish. I like to mince or crush my garlic before adding it to the skillet.
  • Caprese salad; This salad includes fresh basil leaves, mozzarella cheese balls and cherry tomatoes.
  • Tuscan Italian seasoning; This is a blend of herbs and spices that include oregano, parsley, basil, kosher salt and black pepper.
  • Unsalted Butter
  • Extra virgin olive oil
Close up photo of pesto pasta with chicken, tomato, basil and pasta

Loads of flavor.

How to make homemade basil pesto

This is such a simple recipe, you won’t even need to measure after you’ve done it a few times. To a food processor, add 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts, one teaspoon minced garlic, a squeeze of half a lemon, 1/2 cup shredded or grated Parmesan cheese.

Pulse ingredients together until they are finally graded. Add about three cups of fresh whole basil leaves along with salt and pepper to the food processor. Turn the food processor to a low speed and slowly drizzle in 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup olive oil. Continue to use the food processor until your peso is smooth. Taste your pesto. Add more salt or pepper as needed.

How to make easy pesto pasta with chicken

  1. Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil and cook cavatappi until al dente. Reserve 1/4 cup of starchy pasta water.
  2. Slice your chicken breast in half. And use plastic wrap to cover and pound them until they are one half inch thin.
  3. Season The chicken breast on both sides with the Tuscan seasoning and a little bit of kosher salt.
  4. Heat your skillet to medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of butter and two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil.
  5. Once your skillet is hot, add your chicken. Flip the chicken after 4 minutes of cooking on each side. The chicken should come out golden brown and perfectly seared.
  6. Remove your chicken from the skillet.
  7. In the same skillet, add garlic, chicken broth and reserve starchy pasta water. Add 3 tablespoons of creamy basil pesto. 
  8. Whisk all together until blended. This will create your creamy pesto sauce. Let this reduce for about 3 to 4 minutes.
  9. Once the sauce has reduced some, add your cooked pasta and extra seasoning to the skillet and mix and cook in the sauce for about 1 to 2 minutes
  10. Once all the cavatappi is coated, add caprese salad mixture to the skillet and mix well. 
  11. Remove everything from the heat. And add chicken to the top.
  12. Serve hot and enjoy! 
Seasoned chicken breast
Season your chicken.
Chicken breast in pan seared.
Sear in butter and EVOO
Showing which pesto i use for this dish. Creamy genovese pesto
Use creamy pesto or traditional pesto.
Creating the sauce with chicken broth and pesto
Add starchy water, broth and pesto.
adding pasta back to the sauce adding more seasoning
Use extra seasoning.
showing the addition of caprese salad to the dish.
Include tomatoes, basil and mozzarella.
finished dish before chicken is added.
Cook for 1-2 minutes and enjoy!

https://www.youtube.com/shorts/bA2-kWSaiUs

Tips for this pesto recipe

  • Make sure to cook your pasta al dente. This is a great way to create more texture when eating.
  • Make sure that you taste your dish. Add extra seasoning if you need. 
  • Add as much caprese salad mix or as little as you want.

What pairs well with pesto pasta

  • Greek salad; This is a great option. This salad is made up of tomatoes, olives, cucumbers and feta cheese. The feta cheese has a perfect tangy rich and slightly salty flavor.
  • Legume salad; Any salad that is based with simple chickpeas or other peas such as black-eyed peas or fava beans is a great option. Legume salads normally have an oil-based finish with some Italian seasonings.
  • Caprese salad; This is always an option if you’re not adding it to the recipe as it calls for. Caprese salad is made of mozzarella cheese, Roma tomatoes, fresh basil leaves, and garlic. Garlic. This salad can be dressed with a balsamic vinaigrette or tossed in some light olive oil with kosher salt added to the top.

Other sides to add to this dish

  • Seafood; adding seafood to this dish will bump up the protein. Shrimp, salmon, or white fish is a good addition to this creamy pesto pasta. I would season the components with similar seasonings that go into the sauce so that they pair well.
  • Steak; thinly sliced steak, such as sirloin or tenderloin is a perfect addition to this creamy pesto pasta. I like to cook my steak medium so that it is not too hard to choose with each bite.

What to do with leftovers?

You can put leftover pesto pasta in an airtight container and keep in the refrigerator for 3-5 days.

How to reheat this dish

For this dish, I would reheat in a large skillet on low heat. Reheated slowly because there is a cream base that will not bind to the noodles properly if he did too quickly.

Can you freeze this dish?

This dish might not hold up well in the freezer put together. If you needed to freeze sections of the dish, that is what I would suggest. Make the pasta and freeze it. Make the chicken freeze. I would make the sauce fresh and avoid freezing that portion. I would also add fresh caprese salad components.

Frequently asked questions

What different pasta shapes can you use for pesto pasta?

Other pastas to go with this dish; Penne, Fusilli, Farfalle and Rigatoni. These are all great options because they have a great bite to them once they’re done cooking. They also hold onto sauces well. I suggest cooking the pasta al dente. 

What are substitutions for creamy pesto?

Traditional basil pesto; If you decide to use a traditional basil pesto for this recipe, the sauce will be a little bit more oily. You still have a great flavor. The consistency will just be a bit different. Instructions are the same and you will use ⅔ the amount of basil pesto.

Other recipes you might enjoy

Overhead photo of pesto with chicken. very bright and colorful with tomatoes, basil, pasta and chicken.

Easy Pesto Pasta with Chicken

You are going to fall in love with this easy pesto pasta with chicken recipe. It is by far the best pesto pasta recipe that has been created for families. It’s easy to create and easy to pair delicious chicken or any other protein as a side. This is a 30 minute recipe that you will use time and time again.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 25 mins
Total Time 35 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Calories 1087 kcal

Equipment

  • Stock Pot
  • Skillet
  • Mallet

Ingredients
  

  • 1 lb. Cavatappi cooked
  • 1/4 cup Reserve pasta water
  • 2 Chicken breast halved and pounded thin
  • 4 tbsp divided Tuscan seasoning
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin oil
  • 3 cloves crushed garlic
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth
  • 3-4 tbsp. Creamy basil pesto
  • 1/2 cup small mozzarella balls
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes
  • Great parmesan as garnish

Instructions
 

  • Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil and cook cavatappi until al dente. Reserve 1/4 cup of starchy pasta water.
  • Slice your chicken breast in half. And use plastic wrap to cover and pound them until they are one half inch thin.
  • Season The chicken breast on both sides with the Tuscan seasoning and a little bit of kosher salt.
  • Heat your skillet to medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of butter and two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil.
  • Once your skillet is hot, add your chicken. Flip the chicken after 4 minutes of cooking on each side. The chicken should come out golden brown and perfectly seared.
  • Remove your chicken from the skillet.
  • In the same skillet, add garlic, chicken broth and reserve starchy pasta water. Add 3 tablespoons of creamy basil pesto.
  • Whisk all together until blended. This will create your creamy pesto sauce. Let this reduce for about 3 to 4 minutes.
  • Once the sauce has reduced some, add your cooked pasta and extra seasoning to the skillet and mix and cook in the sauce for about 1 to 2 minutes
  • Once all the cavatappi is coated, add caprese salad mixture to the skillet and mix well.
  • Remove everything from the heat. And add chicken to the top.
  • Serve hot and enjoy!

Notes

Make sure to cook your pasta al dente. This is a great way to create more texture when eating.
Make sure that you taste your dish. Add extra seasoning if you need.
Add as much caprese salad mix or as little as you want.

Nutrition

Serving: 1gCalories: 1087kcalCarbohydrates: 144gProtein: 28gFat: 44gSaturated Fat: 12gPolyunsaturated Fat: 5gMonounsaturated Fat: 24gTrans Fat: 0.5gCholesterol: 31mgSodium: 7210mgPotassium: 448mgFiber: 9gSugar: 5gVitamin A: 1981IUVitamin C: 21mgCalcium: 93mgIron: 7mg
Keyword Meat, Spaghetti
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
By on September 17th, 2022

About thebuttababe

HI I'm Alex! Self-Taught Home Chef and Food Photographer. I am here to help you build confidence in the kitchen. We will always have laughs and fun along the way!

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