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Chicken Pesto Pasta with Veggies and Pine Nuts

This creamy chicken pesto pasta is packed with delicious flavors and veggies. This dish is a perfect clean out your fridge meal and use whatever vegetables you have on hand. I will of course show you my perfect version, but this is crazy easy to customize to your own liking and fridge!

 

Dark bowls with chicken pesto pasta seen from above.

 

This pesto pasta is always a big hit with my family (and friends! I once brought this to school as lunch and my good friend ate it all, LOL!) So yes, this is a meal we have had on our dinner rotation ever since I went to middle school, I suppose. The funny thing is that I haven’t found it necessary to alter it much either. It was that good.

 

Don’t forget to save some for lunch!

 

Just like this creamy pasta salad, it is the perfect dish to bring to work, school or even on picnics and trips. Always double the recipe so you can have it as a warm dinner the first day, and then cold lunches throughout the week. I am always so sad whenever we eat it all on the first day.

 

I actually think I prefer chicken pesto pasta as a cold lunch the next day. The flavors deepen and the veggies are still crispy! I’m telling you now, double the recipe (which is already kind of big). 

 

A dark bowl with pasta, vegetables and pesto.

 

Ingredients

 

As I mentioned in the introduction, this is a dish for when you want to clean out the veggie drawer of your fridge. So what to add to pesto pasta is what you have, essentially. Almost all kinds of veggies can work beautifully in this dish. I have however some ingredients I always add, which are:

 

  • Chicken (omit if you want it vegetarian)
  • Pasta (any shape, I prefer fusilli for optimal sauciness)
  • Pesto (store bought for easy, homemade for epic – both are delish)
  • Mushrooms (#1 veggie, it soaks up all the delicious flavors. I ALWAYS add mushrooms)
  • Onion (#2 veggie, I also always add onion because YUM)
  • Carrots (I always add carrots chopped as matchsticks for an interesting texture)
  • Red bell pepper (a little extra crunch and color)
  • Garlic (depending on your pesto, you may not need it, but who’s talking about need, it’s about wanting extra garlic, because hello it’s garlic)
  • Pine nuts (I also always add roasted pine nuts, that nuttiness wins every time!)
  • Parmesan (a little extra parm on top never hurt nobody, unless you’re vegan or vegetarian!)
  • Fresh basil (If I have it, I use it)

 

So these are the ingredients I usually always use. But I also often use small broccoli florets, cauliflower florets, chillis for extra heat, more garlic if I crave it, sugar snap peas, cherry tomatoes, sun-dried tomaties, zucchini, artichoke hearts, or even baby corn. The fridge is your oyster!

 

Steps to prep for the pesto pasta.

 

The best pasta shapes

 

You can use whatever pasta shape you have and that you like. My go-to for this recipe and other thick sauces, are fusilli. The screw shape is perfect for nestlening pesto in it. I also often use penne, which is good, but not as amazing. Sometimes you get the pesto inside the tube shape of the penne, although not always.

 

My mom often uses the farfalle, and I quite like that as well. We have never used spaghetti or linguine, but I don’t see why not. Go with whatever you have and you should be fine. 

 

Three dark bowls with the chicken pasta dish.

 

The pesto

 

I honestly use store bought pesto for this recipe. Use your favorite kind, you don’t need to buy the most expensive ones, just one you personally like. If you have anything leftover, use them in this pesto eggs green shakshuka for breakfast.

 

I do not have any green pesto recipe yet, but if you want to make everything from scratch, you could make this with red pesto instead! Use this recipe for pesto pasta with veggies, but instead of the classic pesto, use this sun-dried tomato pesto. It is amazing!

 

A small white bowl with pesto on a wooden cutting board.

 

How to make it

 

Start by cooking the pasta according to package instructions for al dente pasta. Drain and set aside while you prepare the rest. On high heat, add oil to a large saucepan along with chicken pieces sprinkled with salt and pepper (4). Cook for about 2-3 minutes on each side, until cooked through and with a nice sear. Set aside.

 

In the same saucepan, add all the vegetables and cook until onion is translucent and mushroom is soft (5). About 7 minutes. You may want to add some vegetables that require shorter time, at the end of the cook time (like red bell pepper), but I usually don’t bother with that for this quick dish. 

 

In a small and dry non-stick pan, add pine nuts and roast on medium heat until they smell really nutty and they have got some char to them. A couple of minutes. Set aside.

 

Steps to make the chicken pesto pasta.

 

To the large saucepan, add the cooked chicken and pasta and the pesto (6-7). Stir to combine and it is ready to serve (8). I like to serve each bowl with a little sprinkle of parmesan cheese and fresh basil too – and don’t forget the roasted pine nuts! 

 

This dish is so satisfying on its own, with creamy, crispy, nutty and fresh that I don’t feel the need to serve anything with this pesto pasta. It is enough on its own. If you want to stretch the meals however, I always recommend some delicious dinner rolls or bread with butter. Always butter. Enjoy!

 

A dark bowl with the pasta dish seen from above.

 

Did you like this recipe? Here are more pasta dishes I think you would enjoy:

 

 

I’d love to hear your thoughts. Comment below or tag me @thegingerwithspice on Instagram. And don’t forget to Pin it for later! To make sure you’re never missing another recipe, please feel free to subscribe to my newsletter. As a thanks you will receive a free e-cookbook Travels Through the Seasons, with many delicious recipes from around the world that suit different seasons of the year. 

 

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A dark bowl with the pasta dish seen from above.

Chicken Pesto Pasta with Veggies and Pine Nuts

Yield: 4-6
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

This creamy chicken pesto pasta is packed with delicious flavors, textures and veggies. It is so easy to customize to whatever you have in your fridge!

Ingredients

  • 1/2 lb uncooked pasta (225g. e.g., fusilli, penne, farfalle)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil (or canola oil)
  • 3 garlic cloves (minced, optional)
  • 2 medium chicken breast or thighs, cut in 1 inch cubes
  • 1/2 tsp each salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 8 white button mushroom, sliced or quartered (130g)
  • 1-2 carrots, cut into matchsticks
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, chopped (optional)
  • 1 - 1 1/4 cup green pesto* (260g - 320g)
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts (4 tbsp)
  • Parmesan cheese and fresh basil, to top (optional)

Instructions

  1. Cook the pasta according to package instructions for al dente pasta. Drain and set aside while you prepare the rest.
  2. On medium high heat, add oil to a large saucepan and cook the garlic cloves until fragrant, about 1 minute. Then add the chicken cubes sprinkled with salt and pepper. Cook for about 2-3 minutes on each side, until cooked through and with a nice sear. Set aside.
  3. In the same saucepan, but reduce to medium heat, add all the vegetables** and cook until onion is translucent and mushroom is soft. About 7 minutes. Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper if desired.
  4. Add the cooked pasta, chicken and the pesto to the saucepan and stir to combine and until warmed through.
  5. In a small, dry pan, roast the pine nuts until they smell nutty and have got some golden color. A couple of minutes.
  6. To serve, sprinkle with the pine nuts and parmesan cheese and fresh basil if desired.
  7. Store leftovers in a box with a tight lid in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Leftovers are delicious both hot and cold.

Notes

* Store bought or homemade, as long as it is something you like - you should be fine! You can even use red sun-dried tomato pesto if you want to make a tomatoey spin on it.

** You can add whatever vegetables you have in your fridge, these are just my favorites! Other great options are zucchini, broccoli, and even sun-dried tomatoes. I also often wait 3 minutes before I add the red bell pepper, for extra crunch.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1/4
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 610Total Fat: 38gSaturated Fat: 6.1gCholesterol: 88mgSodium: 726mgCarbohydrates: 43.2gFiber: 3gSugar: 7.6gProtein: 26g

Nutrition information isn't always accurate, estimate for informational purposes only.

Did you make this recipe?

Please leave a comment on the blog or tag @thegingerwithspice on Instagram, I'd love to see!

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Natalie

Monday 27th of September 2021

Such a lovely pasta dinner. This is so easy to make and it's so healthy. I will make this for my family. Thanks for the recipe.

Stine Mari | Ginger with Spice

Friday 1st of October 2021

Thank you so much, it is so easy to make and packing the flavor!

Petro

Sunday 26th of September 2021

I've been looking for a pesto pasta recipe and this looks and sounds so delicious, I can't wait to give it a try!

Stine Mari | Ginger with Spice

Friday 1st of October 2021

Thank you, Petro, I hope you will like it!

Natalia

Saturday 25th of September 2021

What a great recipe to make for my family! Creamy pasta is just what they like, specially with chicken. Definitely going to give this a go, thank you so much for the recipe!

Stine Mari | Ginger with Spice

Friday 1st of October 2021

Thank you so much, I hope they will like it as much as we do!

Jere Cassidy

Saturday 25th of September 2021

I have never made homemade pesto. After looking at your recipe I know I need to make my own from now on.

Stine Mari | Ginger with Spice

Friday 1st of October 2021

Homemade pesto is always better!

Leslie

Saturday 25th of September 2021

This is a wonderfully, delicious recipe! I love the addition of pine nuts to this Chicken Pesto Pasta recipe! Your variation is perfect!

Stine Mari | Ginger with Spice

Friday 1st of October 2021

Thank you so much, that is so kind of you!

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