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Chicken pesto pasta

This chicken pesto pasta came entirely from the pantry and freezer!

With apologies to Rachael Ray, anyone with a well-stocked pantry can turn out a fantastic thirty-minute meal.

Pesto (made weeks ago and frozen in meal-sized portions, or even store-bought), dried pasta, slow-roasted tomatoes (also from the freezer, though sun-dried tomatoes would be fine), frozen chicken breasts, pine nuts, and good cheese:  the only thing in this chicken pesto pasta that isn't directly from my pantry is... me! This dish is a garlic lover's dream, and a make-ahead cook's dream, too. Multiply the recipe to feed a crowd; prepare it the day before, and let it come to room temperature before you serve with a green salad, crusty bread, and a nice glass of wine.

Chicken pesto pasta, a quick weeknight dinner from The Perfect Pantry.

Chicken pesto pasta

From the pantry, you'll need: garlic, pine nuts, olive oil, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, slow-roasted tomatoes, pasta, frozen chicken breast.

Serves 4.


For the pesto:
2 cups fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup fresh pine nuts
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp black pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

For the salad:
2 Tbsp mayonnaise
2 cups cooked pasta, any twisty shape (cellentani, rotini, gemelli, etc.)
1 boneless, skinless chicken breast, cooked (roasted, grilled, baked, or poached), cut into 1-inch chunks
4 slow-roasted tomato halves, roughly chopped
2 Tbsp pine nuts

Additional grated pecorino romano or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, for topping (optional)


In a food processor, pulse together the basil, pine nuts, garlic, salt and pepper, until everything is chopped finely. While the machine is running, add the oil in a stream through the feed tube, until the mixture turns into a sauce. Add the cheese all at once, and pulse a few times to combine. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, stir together the remaining ingredients. Add enough of the pesto to coat, and stir well to combine. Store any leftover pesto in a container with an airtight lid, in the refrigerator or freezer.

Serve at room temperature, with optional extra cheese on top.

[Printer-friendly recipe.]

More pasta with pesto:
Pasta with peas and parsley-walnut pesto, from The Perfect Pantry
Penne with roasted red pepper pesto, from The Perfect Pantry
Chicken Florentine pesto pasta, from Simply Recipes
Baked chicken stuffed with pesto and cheese, from Kalyn's Kitchen

Chicken pesto pasta: a true 30-minute meal from your well-stocked pantry.

Disclosure: The Perfect Pantry earns a few pennies on purchases made through the Amazon.com links in this post. Thank you for supporting this site when you start your shopping here.


I'd love this for dinner! Anything with pesto is good with me.

Kalyn, dishes like this are why I make and freeze pesto every summer. With a good pantry and pre-made pesto, it's so easy to get a meal on the table.


Looks good! I love pesto & pasta.

Why is mayonaise used for this pasta recipe (just curious)?

Candice, I often use a bit of mayo in, or with, pesto, to smooth out the sharpness -- especially when I make pesto from my own garden basil, which has a very robust flavor. You can leave it out, of course, if you wish.

Hi Lydia,

Thanks for response. I was just curious as I've never made pesto with mayo. So, do you just mix the mayo while the pasta is still hot and then mix in the pesto sauce?


Candice, you can do that (it kind of melts the mayo, which is nice), or you can mix it into the pesto and then mix that with the pasta. When I'm making pesto for the freezer, I don't add mayo, but when I'm making it to use on the spot, I do. Try it both ways, and see which one you like better, with or without!

looks delicious and sounds easy. will try it tonight. I'll exchange the mayo with olive oil / vinegar and see what happens. thank you Lydia!

My frozen pesto is calling my name. Thanks for reminding me...

Tara, you can simply eliminate the mayo and see how that tastes to you, or add yogurt instead of mayo.

Donna, mine is calling, too!

I tried it with olive oil and it worked really well!

LOVE pesto and I also freeze some each summer - But I will have to try the mayo suggestion now!

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