Pasta with Pesto Sauce and Grilled Chicken

5 from 8 votes

Skip the store-bought pesto sauce and try your next pasta with pesto sauce! This recipe only needs 6 easy ingredients and a few minutes in a food processor. The best part is it's totally customizable so you can change up the greens, change up the nuts and leave out the Parmesan. I love serving it with grilled chicken!

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Pasta night is mandatory once a week in my home. We cycle through difference sauces, but when that weather gets warmer, it’s all about pasta with pesto sauce. I love making a big batch of the sauce and storing it to use with chicken, in sandwiches,on flatbread or even crackers. But it’s definitely the best with pasta!

Finished dish of pasta with pesto sauce and sliced grilled chicken on a round plate. Sitting on a gray napkin on a gray background

The Basics of Pesto Sauce

Here’s all you need to make that magic green pesto sauce!

  1. Greens – this could be one of the following or a combination of basil, spinach, kale, arugula, parsley, mint or micro greens
  2. Garlic – make sure it’s fresh!
  3. Nuts – Pine nuts are most popular, or you can use walnuts or almonds, like I did
  4. High quality extra-virgin olive oil
  5. Grated Parmesan cheese (this can be omitted to make it vegan)

Essentially, pesto is derived from the Italian word for “pestare” which means to pound or crush. So we crush it all together in a food processor and it’s pesto pronto!

Pesto sauce all blended in the food processor - showing a bright green color

And here’s that beauty shot of the pesto sauce with pasta! I used linguine but the beauty of pesto sauce is that it works with almost any shape of pasta! Here are the most popular pasta parings with pesto:

  • Flat long noodles: fettuccine, linguine or pappardelle
  • Long tube noodles: bucatini or perciatelli
  • Short tube pasta: penne, rigatoni or cavatappi
  • Small tube pasta: macaroni or ditalini

Pesto sauce tossed with linguine pasta in a pot

What’s awesome about this pasta with pesto sauce? It literally pairs well with so many things: grilled chicken, salmon, shrimp or a big side of salad. I like cutting up grilled chicken into small pieces for the kids and just giving it all a nice toss.

Pesto sauce tossed with linguine pasta in a pot on the left with grilled chicken pieces cut up on the right

However you pair it, however you customize it, this is one of the best pesto sauces! I’m in love with this recipe and I hope you try it and love it too!

Close up of the finished dish of pasta with pesto sauce and sliced grilled chicken on a round plate. Sitting on a gray napkin on a gray background

Pesto Pasta with Chicken

Skip the store-bought pesto sauce and try your next pasta with pesto sauce! This recipe only needs 6 easy ingredients and a few minutes in a food processor. The best part is it’s totally customizable so you can change up the greens, change up the nuts and leave out the Parmesan. I love serving it with grilled chicken!
5 from 8 votes
Servings 6 servings
Course Main Course
Calories 465
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Total Time 20 mins

Ingredients
  

  • 1 pound spaghetti pasta
  • ½ cup pesto
  • ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 4 6- ounces boneless skinless chicken breast
  • ½ teaspoon salt plus more to taste
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper plus more to taste
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Juice of one lemon
  • Fresh basil for garnish

Instructions

  • Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil. Cook pasta until al dente according to package directions. Reserve 1 cup pasta water and drain.
  • Return drained pasta to the same pot over low heat and add the pesto, Parmesan cheese and butter. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add in reserved pasta water gradually until the sauce is glossy.
  • Preheat a grill pan to medium high heat. Add the olive oil. Season both sides of the chicken with salt, pepper, garlic powder and paprika and transfer to the heated skillet. Cook the chicken for 3-4 minutes per side or until golden brown and cooked through. Allow the chicken to rest for 5 minutes, then slice into strips and add on top of the pesto pasta.
  • Add the lemon juice on top and garnish with fresh basil. Serve immediately.

Notes

Storage: If you have extra pesto sauce, store it in a jar or airtight container in the fridge for one week or in the freezer for up to 6 months. To prevent oxidizing in the fridge, you can pour olive oil on top or wrap with a plastic wrap directly touching the surface. Store leftover pasta with chicken in an airtight container for up to 4 days.

Nutrition

Calories: 465kcal, Carbohydrates: 59g, Protein: 20g, Fat: 16g, Saturated Fat: 5g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 3g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 30mg, Sodium: 573mg, Potassium: 293mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 3g, Vitamin A: 631IU, Vitamin C: 1mg, Calcium: 151mg, Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information provided is an estimate. It will vary based on cooking method and specific ingredients used.

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Finished pasta in dish tossed in pesto and topped with sliced chicken, basil, and lemon.

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