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Bowl of basil chicken pesto pasta with a fork in it, and a crumpled kitchen towel

Chicken Pesto Pasta

Homemade pesto sauce tossed with whole wheat pasta and topped with easy baked chicken breasts, toasted pine nuts and parmesan cheese. Winner!
5 from 5 votes
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Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: pasta, chicken, pesto
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 567kcal
Author: Farah Abumaizar


For the pesto sauce:

  • 4 packed cups fresh basil leaves 100 g
  • 1/2 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese
  • the zest of one small lemon
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 5 garlic cloves
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2/3 cup toasted pine nuts, cooled
  • pinch red chili flakes
  • 1 cup good quality olive oil

For the chicken breasts:

  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp mixed herbs, oregano or thyme
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp olive oil

For the pasta and assembly:

  • 250 grams pasta of choice, I used whole wheat fusilli (about 1/2 box or 8 ounces)
  • handful fresh parmesan cheese
  • handful fresh basil leaves
  • 2 tbsp toasted pine nuts


For the pesto sauce:

  • In the bowl of a food processor or blender, add all the ingredients from the basil leaves through to the red chili flakes (everything except the olive oil).
  • Blend to combine until basil is chopped up. Then, drizzle in the olive oil while blending until all the olive oil is added and a paste with some texture forms. Taste and adjust seasoning as desired.

For the chicken:

  • Preheat the oven to 220 C (425 F). Flatten the chicken breasts slightly by pounding them with a rolling pin until the whole breast is of the same thickness.
  • In a small bow, mix together all the dry ingredients, mustard, and olive oil until a paste forms.
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, place chicken breasts on parchment paper, and spread the spice and oil paste evenly all over the chicken breasts, bottom and top.
  • Bake the chicken for 18-20 minutes, until cooked through. For the final 1-2 minutes of cooking, if chicken hasn't browned, use the broil function of your oven to give it a touch of color. Watch carefully!
  • Allow chicken to rest for a few minutes, then slice it up to top the pasta with.

For the pasta and assembling:

  • Cook the pasta according to package instructions and then drain, reserving a little of the pasta water.
  • Toss the pasta thoroughly with 1/2 cup prepared pesto, and add a little of the reserved pasta water to make it more saucy. Top with the grilled chicken, extra parmesan cheese, and toasted pine nuts, plus fresh basil if desired.


Pesto recipe available in full detail here, originally adapted from Cookie and Kate
Oven baked chicken breast recipe available here.
Tried this recipe?Mention @everylittlecrumb or tag #everylittlecrumb!


Calories: 567kcal