This Chicken Pesto is one of my all-time favourite recipes. I don’t say that lightly, but I’ve made it so many times, I don’t even need the recipe anymore! I originally shared it back in 2007 and estimate that I’ve made this pesto once a month since then. That means I have probably made it close to 150 times (!)
I just truly love to cook this dish. It is such a quick and delicious weeknight meal. You can make the pesto, cook the chicken and make the sauce in the time it takes to cook your pasta. I really wanted to update it because my photography has improved quiiiiite a bit in the last decade or so. The badly composed, poorly lit photo seriously made me cringe.
Lately I have enjoyed revisiting some old favourite recipes and re-reading the words I wrote years ago. Re-shooting the dishes with the photography and food styling know-how I have accumulated throughout the last decade has been great fun for me too.
These are the recipes in my archive that have truly stood to test of time. I make them over and over and I know they will always work. While I can be a recipe-following rebel and always want to change something, I made this Chicken Pesto exactly as I had written it in my original post 12 years ago, and it turned out absolutely perfectly.
This recipe is totally adaptable. If I don’t have the exact ingredients, I just wing it. I like knowing that I can turn pretty much anything in my fridge into some sort of meal. It makes me feel like I’m on a Masterchef challenge!!
Sometimes I substitute different herbs, spinach or kale for the basil. If I don’t have pine nuts on hand, I use cashews or even sunflower seeds with great success.
When I can get a huge bunch of basil at the farmers market, I like to make a double batch and freeze it. That means I always have a super quick weeknight meal option in the freezer for busy days. Just transfer to an airtight container and drizzle a little olive oil over the top to ensure it doesn’t discolour.
You could also make this recipe with leftover roast chicken – homemade or store bought are both good. Prawns, hot smoked salmon or sautéed mushrooms would be good options too. You can also use any shape or size of pasta you have on hand. I’ve seriously made it with everything from penne to spirals to orecchiette and more. It even made a lasagne filling that was the bomb.
This time I decided to serve my Chicken Pesto with some roasted cherry tomatoes, which added a little extra cooking time to the final dish. It was delicious but 100% optional. I know I don’t always have time to roast tomatoes when I’ve come home late on a weeknight! Sun-dried tomatoes stirred into the sauce can give you an intense pop of flavour or just simply slice fresh cherry tomatoes in half and serve alongside.
I hope you give this recipe a try and that it becomes part of your weeknight repertoire like it has for me. I know I will continue to make it (and of course, variations of it) for many more years to come.
Related Post: Pumpkin Cauliflower Mac & Cheese
Creamy Chicken Pesto with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes
This Creamy Chicken Pesto has been a staple recipe in my repertoire of Simple Dinners since 2007! I have made it well over 100 times over the years and it’s one of my favourite quick and easy weeknight meals.
Roasted Cherry Tomatoes
- 400 g mixed coloured cherry tomatoes
- Olive oil
- Salt & Black Pepper
- 1 cup basil leaves, rinsed, roughly chopped
- ¼ cup parsley leaves, rinsed, roughly chopped
- ¼ cup pine nuts
- ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
- olive oil
- 3 small chicken breasts, cut into 2cm cubes
- 1/2 cup thickened cream
- Salt & Black Pepper
- 500 g dry weight spaghetti, cooked
- Grated parmesan cheese
- Basil leaves
Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F). Cut cherry tomatoes in half and spread on a non-stick baking tray. Drizzle with olive oil and add salt and black pepper. Roast for about 30-40 minutes, or until soft.
In the meantime, cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling, salted water.
To make the pesto, place ingredients into a food processor and pulse until combined to taste.
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a fry pan. Add the chicken, cooking until cooked through. Remove from the pan, and set aside.
Over low heat, add the pesto to the frypan with the cream and cook for 5 minutes. Return the chicken to the pan and stir until chicken is coated.
Drain the pasta and then return it to the pot. Stir the pesto sauce into the pasta and serve, garnishing with roasted cherry tomatoes, basil leaves and parmesan.