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!
The Basics of Pesto Sauce
Here’s all you need to make that magic green pesto sauce!
- Greens – this could be one of the following or a combination of basil, spinach, kale, arugula, parsley, mint or micro greens
- Garlic – make sure it’s fresh!
- Nuts – Pine nuts are most popular, or you can use walnuts or almonds, like I did
- High quality extra-virgin olive oil
- 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!
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
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.
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!
Pasta with Pesto Sauce and Grilled Chicken
For the Spinach Pesto Linguine
- 12 oz. linguine or pasta of choice
- 1 1/2 cups spinach
- 1/2 cup basil
- 1/4 cup roasted almonds
- 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan plus more for serving
- 1 garlic clove
- 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- Fresh peas optional
- Fresh basil for garnish
For the Chicken
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 4 6 oz boneless skinless chicken breast
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- 1/2 tsp thyme
- 14 tsp mustard powder
- Salt/pepper to taste
- Cook the linguine according to package instructions. Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water, drain the pasta and return it to the pot.
- In the bowl of a food processor, place the spinach, basil, almonds, Parmesan cheese and garlic. Pulse until combined and thoroughly blended.
- With the processor still on, slowly pour the olive oil and blend until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.
- Add the pesto to the linguine, and add some of the reserved pasta cooking water if the pasta seems dry and add fresh peas (if desired)
- To prepare the chicken, heat the olive oil in a large grill pan over medium-high heat. Season the chicken with paprika, thyme, mustard powder, salt and pepper and cook for 3-5 minutes per side, or until chicken is fully cooked.
- Thinly slice the chicken and serve on top of the pasta along with grated Parmesan cheese and fresh basil, if desired.
- Appliances: I use the Kitchen Aid food processor, and it does the job well! I prefer using a food processor over a blender for pesto though.
- Substitutes: There are easy substitutes you can make with this recipe! As mentioned above, you can change the greens, change the nuts and skip the Parmesan cheese. You can also use any pasta you’d like like and pair it how you’d like it.
- Storage: Store the pesto sauce 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.