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Easy Chicken Pesto Pasta

The easiest Chicken Pesto Pasta made with a lemony green pesto made with fresh herbs, cheese and garlic and grilled chicken breasts. Toss with your favorite short noodles for a super quick and delicious weeknight meal!
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Calories 571kcal

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup toasted walnuts
  • 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh garlic
  • 3 cups fresh basil leaves
  • 1 cup arugula
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley leaves
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
  • 2 Tbsp. lemon zest
  • 2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup olive oil plus additional as needed
  • Lemon juice to taste (if desired)
  • 8 ounces dry pasta such as rotini or penne
  • 3 cups cubed grilled chicken
  • Lemon wedges to serve

Instructions

  • In the container of blender or food processor, pulse walnuts, garlic, basil, arugula, parsley, Parmesan, lemon zest, salt, and red pepper flakes until finely chopped. 
  • With machine running, gradually add 1 cup olive oil until mixture is smooth and just a little chunky, adding additional oil as needed to make a thick paste. Add lemon juice, if using; pulse to combine.
  • If not using immediately, spoon pesto into a small jar, pour a thin layer of olive oil on top, and cover tightly.
  • Prepare pasta according to package directions. Reserve 1 cup pasta water; drain pasta.
  • Return drained pasta to dry pan; add cubed chicken and desired amount of pesto. Stir to combine, adding pasta water as needed to help pesto coat pasta. Squeeze with additional lemon, or serve with lemon wedges.

Notes

  • I used grilled chicken breasts for this recipe but you can use any leftover cooked chicken in this recipe. Turkey or ham will also work well.
  • Make sure to reserve the starchy pasta water to emulsify the pesto sauce this adds a ton of flavor and helps stretch the sauce further.
  • Because pesto oxidizes fairly quickly I recommend using it the same day you make it as it doesn't keep very well.
  • Leftover pesto pasta can be stored in the fridge for 1-2 days and eaten cold as it is or in salads. This won't freeze well.

Nutrition

Calories: 571kcal | Carbohydrates: 48g | Protein: 45g | Fat: 21g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 94mg | Sodium: 1144mg | Potassium: 599mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 1865IU | Vitamin C: 24.7mg | Calcium: 178mg | Iron: 3.6mg