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Chicken Pesto Pasta Recipe

Chicken Pesto Pasta Recipe

Creamy and flavorful, this Chicken Pesto Pasta will be a family favorite after the first taste.

Chicken Pesto Pasta Recipe featured image above

Chicken and pasta can be whipped with all kinds of flavors and spices, but what sets this dish apart is the Italian paste called pesto. Pesto is normally made with crushed garlic, pine nuts, coarse salt, basil leaves, and a hard cheese like Parmigiano-Reggiano or Pecorino Sardo, then mixed with olive oil. This combination has been wowing taste buds for centuries. In Ancient Rome, a similar paste called moretum was immortalized in a collection of poems. During the Middle Ages, a sauce called agliata was a common addition to entrees.

Basil entered the picture in the mid-nineteenth century. When in season, basil is an abundant herb, especially in parts of Italy and France. By the late 1920s, Americans started hearing about pesto, and today, it’s in demand as a sauce for all sorts of dishes, including this recipe for Chicken Pesto Pasta. The sauce combines a bright and herby flavor with saltiness and richness from the cheese. If you like to experiment with pesto, this recipe for pea pesto is a fun way to incorporate more vegetables into the meal. If you’re hankering for the basil flavor, you can always whip up some tomato basil soup.

Serving Suggestions

This dish can be served warm or at room temperature. I always think a simple salad is a nice counterbalance to the creaminess of the dish. You could try this Caprese salad or Italian chopped salad to keep with the Italian theme.

Ingredients

  • 4 chicken breasts skinless and boneless
  • 2 cloves garlic crushed
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 lb penne pasta uncooked
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • ½ cup cream cheese
  • ½ cup Parmesan cheese
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • ½ cup basil pesto
  • ½ cup sundried tomatoes chopped
  • Salt and pepper
Chicken Pesto Pasta Recipe featured image  ingredients

Instructions

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 30 minutes

Yields: 8 servings

  • Use a sharp knife to cut the chicken into cubes. Then in a large pot, melt the butter and brown the cubes of chicken on all sides. Cook for 5-8 minutes.
Chicken Pesto Pasta Recipe step 1
  • Pop in the garlic and sauté with the chicken for 2 minutes, then pour in the penne pasta and the chicken stock. Cover and cook on low for 8 minutes. Stir the pot occasionally to make sure the pasta doesn’t stick to the bottom.
Chicken Pesto Pasta Recipe step 2
  • Once the pasta is partly cooked, add in the whole milk, cream cheese, half the Parmesan cheese, pesto, sundried tomatoes, and salt and pepper. Give it a good stir to mix the cream cheese throughout the dish, then cover and simmer for another 5 minutes.
Chicken Pesto Pasta Recipe step 3
  • When the sauce thickens and the pasta is cooked to your liking, sprinkle on the rest of the parmesan and serve.
Chicken Pesto Pasta Recipe step 4

Tips and Tricks

  • Reserve about a cup of the pasta cooking water to use if the sauce looks dry.
  • Feel free to garnish with pine nuts, cherry tomatoes, or some of your other favorite ingredients.
  • Use an internal meat thermometer to make sure the chicken reaches 165°F.
  • Don’t overcook the pasta; otherwise it can get mushy.

FAQs

Can I use store-bought pesto or should I make my own?

Either will work. There are lots of great brands of pesto so be sure to try different ones to find your favorite.

See Also

Do I have to use penne pasta?

Nope. This dish will work with any pasta that you have in the pantry (and homemade pasta, if you’re feeling ambitious).

Can I use a different protein?

Sure! You could use shrimp, sausage, or even tofu. Just incorporate the instructions for cooking those proteins into this recipe.

Chicken Pesto Pasta Recipe featured image below

Storage Tips

This is a great dish for leftovers. They’ll store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to four days. To warm them up, bring the dish to room temperature on the counter first, then heat in the microwave or oven at 375°F until it’s hot in the center. You can also freeze leftovers for two to three months. Just let it thaw overnight in the fridge before reheating.

Chicken Pesto Pasta Recipe featured image below

Chicken Pesto Pasta

About a Mom
Creamy and flavorful, this Chicken Pesto Pasta will be a family favorite after the first taste.
No ratings yet
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Servings 8
Calories 354 kcal

Ingredients
  

Instructions
 

  • Use a sharp knife to cut the chicken into cubes. Then, in a large pot, melt the butter and brown the cubes of chicken on all sides. Cook for 5-8 minutes.
    Chicken Pesto Pasta Recipe step 1
  • Add the garlic and sauté with the chicken for 2 minutes, then pour in the penne pasta and the chicken stock. Cover and cook on low for 8 minutes. Stir the pot occasionally to make sure the pasta doesn’t stick to the bottom.
    Chicken Pesto Pasta Recipe step 2
  • Once the pasta is partly cooked, add in the whole milk, cream cheese, half the Parmesan cheese, pesto, sundried tomatoes, and salt and pepper. Give it a good stir to mix the cream cheese throughout the dish, then cover and simmer for another 5 minutes.
    Chicken Pesto Pasta Recipe step 3
  • When the sauce has thickened, and the pasta is cooked to your liking, sprinkle on the rest of the parmesan and serve.
    Chicken Pesto Pasta Recipe step 4

Nutrition

Calories: 354kcalCarbohydrates: 26gProtein: 34gFat: 12gSaturated Fat: 5gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0.01gCholesterol: 97mgSodium: 386mgPotassium: 820mgFiber: 2gSugar: 6gVitamin A: 392IUVitamin C: 4mgCalcium: 150mgIron: 2mg
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