Make Pesto Pasta with Grilled Chicken

Edited by Jan Margery Castillo, Robbi, Lynn, Adrian Penaflor and 2 others

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Pesto pasta is good enough as it is. Add some flavorful grilled chicken, and you probably won't be able to stop at just one portion. This recipe may sound a bit complicated, but it's easier than you might think. It's relatively easy to learn how to prepare this simple treat. Once you read it, you'll want to run to the nearest grocery store to buy the necessary ingredients.

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Pesto originated in Liguria, a small region in Italy. The word "pesto" came from the Italian word "pestare", which means "to pound". Traditionally, pesto was prepared using a ceramic or marble mortar and a wooden pestle. It's great if you have the luxury of time to use the traditional method because the flavor of the combined basil, nuts and other ingredients is more delicate.

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There are several ways of preparing a pesto pasta, and the most common is the one that does not require much cooking. Just toss the pasta to a pesto sauce and that's about it. Italians prefer their dishes fresh. This recipe has a little twist, but it's so easy you can prepare it in just 15 minutes!

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  • 1 lb. penne pasta (or any pasta of your choice)
  • 1 ½ cups basil pesto
  • 1 lb. chicken
  • 1 red bell pepper (chopped)
  • 1 medium white onion (chopped)
  • ¼ cup sun dried tomato
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Salt and pepper

For Pesto Sauce

  • 2 cups of basil leaves
  • ½ cup Parmesan cheese or Romano cheese
  • ½ cup pine nuts
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil or sunflower oil
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. 1
    Prepare the pesto
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    1. Clean the basil leaves and put them into the food processor, together with the pine nuts. Pulse until the basil leaves become almost crushed.
    2. Add the minced garlic and pulse for a few more seconds.
    3. While the food processor is mixing the ingredients, slowly pour in the olive oil. Make sure you scrape down the excess mixture using a spatula.
    4. Then add the Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper until a thick paste is formed.
    5. Transfer the pesto paste to a bowl and add a little more olive oil.
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  2. 2
    Grill the Chicken Breast
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    1. Brush a little olive oil onto the chicken breast and then put them one by one into a Ziploc bag.
    2. Using a meat tenderizer (or the back of your knife), and pound the chicken breast until it becomes flat.
    3. Remove the chicken from the plastic bag and rub it with salt and pepper.
    4. Marinate for 30 minutes.
    5. Heat a grill pan on medium-low. Brush some olive oil on the chicken breast again before grilling.
    6. Grill the chicken breast for 3-7 minutes each side, depending on the thickness.
    7. Set aside. Wait for a few minutes before cutting it into thick strips.
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  3. 3
    Cook the penne pasta according to package instructions
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  4. 4
    Heat a skillet and saute white onion, red bell pepper and sun dried tomatoes for 3-5 minutes
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  5. 5
    Add the grilled chicken strips and let it cook for another 2 minutes
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  6. 6
    Toss the cooked penne pasta and add the pesto sauce
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  7. 7
    Add a little olive oil and mix until the pasta is well-covered with pesto
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  8. 8
    Transfer to a plate and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and red pepper flakes
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  9. 9
    Add a small basil leaf to the side, for presentation, and serve with garlic bread
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Tips and Tricks

  • Aside from basil, there are other vegetables and herbs that you can use to make a pesto. You can use cilantro, thyme, arugula and even beets].
  • Pine nuts can be very expensive. A pound of pine nuts is about $60-120 in the market. You may use a combination of pistachios and almonds as an alternative, but then make sure you use parsley instead of basil because it could be too sweet otherwise.
  • Walnuts can also be used as a substitute for pine nuts, but you need to take all the skin off to avoid the bitter aftertaste.
  • The proper way of storing a pesto sauce, if you have excess, is to put it in an airtight container, cover tightly, and store it in the freezer. The homemade pesto will last up to 3-4 months.
  • The pesto sauce is no longer good if it becomes brownish in color.

This recipe is good for six people and is perfect for dinner or lunch. Try it now and enjoy cooking this healthy Italian cuisine your way!

If you have problems with any of the steps in this article, please ask a question for more help, or post in the comments section below.


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Article Info

Categories : Appetizers & Finger Foods

Recent edits by: Eng, Adrian Penaflor, Lynn

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