Pesto Chicken Pasta Recipes

pesto chicken pastaPasta is an inexpensive, easy, and delicious meal that is nearly universally loved. Serving pasta the same way again and again, however, can get boring fast. That’s why recipes like these for pesto chicken pasta can be a welcome change; pesto brings a unique flavor to the pasta that helps liven it up and make it new again.

The Basics of Pesto Chicken Pasta Recipes

Just like other pasta recipes, there are numerous variations on pesto chicken pasta. These two recipes represent just a sample of the different ways you can make this dish. Each component can be cooked separately and combined just before eating, or the pasta and chicken can be baked in the pesto for a greater depth of flavor. Pesto is also healthier than some cream based sauces, so it makes a nice alternatives for people learning to make fast family food that is also healthy.

Any type of pesto can be used to help vary the flavor of the dish as well. While pesto traditionally uses pignoli or pine nuts, it can also be made with cashews or other nuts for a different flavor. Making your own pasta a day or so ahead of time can also increase the flavor of the dish; for ease of preparation always make the pasta the day before, or use a container of store bought pesto .

Any type of pasta noodle can be used with this dish as well. These recipes mention two different pasta shapes for variation; substitute with what you have on hand if necessary.

Basil Pesto Recipe

This recipe makes a very traditional-tasting pesto that keeps well. You can make it up to a week before you intend to use it to help cut down on the dinner prep time when it’s time to make the pasta dish. Pesto is also a raw food, so this recipe can be used with other raw food recipes for beginners.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves, tightly packed
  • 2 tablespoons garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 2/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Place the basil leaves, garlic, and pine nuts into a food processor.
  2. Pulse the food processor until the mixture inside is coarsely chopped.
  3. Add the oil and continue to pulse until smooth.
  4. Remove from the food processor and transfer to an air tight container if not using immediately.
  5. Stir in the cheese.
  6. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use – up to one week.

Bowtie Pesto Chicken Pasta Recipe

This simple dish cooks the pasta and chicken separately and combines them before serving. Sun dried tomatoes help to add additional flavor and texture to the meal. Bowtie pasta is used because the large flat noodles help gather up more of the sauce and flavor on each bite. Serve this pasta with fresh, crusty bread, and a side salad.

Ingredients

  • 16 ounce package of bowtie pasta
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 2 boneless chicken breasts cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1/3 cup sundried tomatoes cut into strips
  • 1/2 cup pesto sauce
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add the pasta noodles.
  2. Boil for about 8 to 10 minutes, or until the pasta is cooked, but firm. Drain the noodles and set aside.
  3. Heat the oil in a large skillet and add the garlic. Sauté over high heat until fragrant, and add the chicken.
  4. Cook over medium heat until the chicken is cooked through and golden brown.
  5. Add the chicken to the pasta and top with the sundried tomatoes and pesto sauce.
  6. Stir well to combine.

Baked Pesto Chicken Pasta Recipe

This casserole combines the pasta, chicken, and pesto in an oven-baked dish that ups the flavor of the meal. The addition of Alfredo sauce adds creaminess to the texture. Crushed tomatoes and spinach leaves helps to make this a complete meal in one pot; consider cooking the chicken ahead of time to speed up the assembly when it’s time to go into the oven.

Ingredients

  • 16 ounce package of penne noodles
  • 6 cooked boneless chicken breasts cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 3 cups baby spinach, packed
  • 15 ounces crushed tomatoes
  • 15 ounces Alfredo sauce
  • 1-1/2 cups milk
  • 1 cup pesto
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

Instructions

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add the penne noodles.
  2. Boil for 8 to 10 minutes or until the noodles are cooked through, but firm.
  3. Drain the noodles and set aside.
  4. Combine the chicken, cheese, spinach, tomatoes, Alfredo sauce, milk, and pesto in a large bowl. Mix well.
  5. Add the pasta noodles to the chicken mixture and stir to combine.
  6. Transfer the chicken mixture to a large casserole dish.
  7. Combine the breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, and olive oil in a small bowl.
  8. Pour the breadcrumb mixture over the top of the casserole dish.
  9. Transfer the dish to an oven preheated to 350 degrees F.
  10. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until light brown and slightly bubbly.

Pesto Chicken Pasta Salad

The addition of pesto to this pasta salad dish makes for a tangy addition to this picnic favorite. This particular pesto is made by replacing the basil leaves with arugula, which has a slightly more bitter taste that works well in a cold dish. The pine nuts in the traditional pasta recipe are replaced with walnuts, which complements the taste of the arugula.

Ingredients

  • 4 boneless chicken breasts
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 16 ounces penne pasta
  • 1 cup arugula pesto
  • 1 pint red grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 pint yellow grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1-1/4 cups crumbled Feta cheese
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped Kalamata olives

Instructions

  1. Brush the chicken breasts with olive oil and place them under a broiler on high.
  2. Broil 10 minutes on each side, until the tops of the chicken are slightly blackened, and the center is cooked through.
  3. Slice the chicken into 1-inch strips and set aside.
  4. Bring a large pot of water to boil and add the penne noodles.
  5. Boil for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the pasta is cooked through, but firm.
  6. Drain the noodles and shock them with ice water. Drain them a second time, and toss them with a small amount of olive oil to keep them from sticking.
  7. Place the pasta in a bowl with the chicken.
  8. Add the tomatoes, Feta, olives, and pesto.
  9. Toss the salad well to coat the pieces with the pesto.
  10. Cover and chill until ready to serve.

Spice Up Your Meals

Pasta is one of the most frequently eaten dishes around the country. Whether you are new to cooking and are taking some cooking courses, or you’ve been preparing pasta dishes for years, you’re probably more than familiar with the traditional means of assembling it. And while Alfredo and tomato-based sauces still have their place with pasta aficionados, switching things up from time to time is always beneficial. Pesto has a bright, complex flavor that combines well with both chicken and pasta to create a dish that is anything but boring. If you love pasta, but have grown tired of eating the same thing each time, give one of these recipes containing pesto a try. Whether you use the traditional basil pesto, or you branch out into the more exotic arugula, the flavor is sure to impress everyone that tries it.

Once you’ve started experimenting with your pasta dishes, you may find you want to take a gourmet cooking course to help you learn even more. Give these pesto chicken pasta dishes a try and start expanding your culinary horizons.