This pesto chicken pasta is a great weeknight dinner recipe. It comes together quickly (20 minutes, max), and your minimal efforts will be rewarded with mouthfuls of deliciousness. My inspiration for this recipe comes from Wine Stained Cloth, but I’ve really simplified their version of this dish.
- 1 pound of penne pasta
- 1 pound of boneless skinless chicken breasts
- 1 cup of heavy cream
- 1 cup of pesto (I usually buy the Bertolli pesto in the refrigerated section.)
- 1/2 cup toasted nuts (I used almonds, but walnuts would be great. You could do pine nuts if you were feelin’ fancy.)
- Parmesan cheese to taste
- Olive oil
- Kosher salt
Step One: Boil Your Waters (Add one tablespoon of olive oil to keep your pastas from sticking together.)
This should be your first step when you make any sort of pasta. You can lower the heat to keep the water just below boiling if it gets going too early. For this recipe, go ahead and add your pasta just as the water begins to boil.
Cut your chicken into strips or bite sized pieces.
Cook your chicken in a skillet over medium high heat until chicken is just cooked through. You want to be careful not to overcook the chicken. Don’t let it brown or the final pasta dish won’t be as creamy. Stir the chicken pieces periodically to make sure they are cooking evenly.
Toast your nuts in a separate skillet while the chicken is cooking. You can dry roast them, or you can cook them up in a little bit of olive oil and some kosher salt. Set aside.
Combine your cooked chicken, pesto cream sauce, and cooked, drained pasta. Garnish with the Parmesan cheese and nuts. Serve with garlic bread and a side salad.
I had some problems getting my pesto and cream sauce to thicken the last time I made this dish. I think the cream I had in the fridge was a bit on the old side and some of the solids had separated out. Even though the sauce wasn’t quite as thick as I wanted it to be, the final product was still super delicious. Pesto covers up a lot of culinary sins and mistakes.