We like to call this meal a weeknight powerhouse. Easy to prepare, full of flavor and plays far higher than the effort might suggest. Tight on time? Substitute store bought pesto and rotisserie chicken. This one is also fantastic as a vegetarian option, omitting the chicken! Leftovers save great for lunch the next day.
Chicken Pesto Pasta with Sundried Tomatoes
- 1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts
- Olive oil
- Kosher salt
- Black pepper
- 2 tsp Italian seasoning
- 1 shallot diced
- 4 garlic cloves minced
- 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes more if you want slightly spicier
- 5 oz sundried tomatoes drained and sliced
- 1 lb pasta I prefer fusilli, penne or trofie
- 1/3 cup raw unsalted nuts of choice (pine nuts or slivered almonds)
- 2 cups fresh basil leaves
- 3 cloves of garlic
- 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 Tbsp lemon juice
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- ¼ tsp black pepper
- ½ cup to ¾ cup olive oil
- Parmesan cheese
- Fresh basil
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Line a baking sheet with foil. Lay chicken breasts on baking sheet and drizzle lightly with olive oil. Season with salt, pepper and Italian seasoning. Bake in oven until internal temperature reaches 160 degrees, roughly 20 minutes.
- Fill a large stockpot with water and heat over high heat. Generously salt and bring to a boil.
- While pasta water is heating, prepare pesto. Toast nuts in a dry pan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until fragrant and lightly browned.
- Place nuts and remaining pesto ingredients (through black pepper) in a food processor. Pulse to break up nuts and incorporate basil and Parmesan. Begin to blend and while blending, drizzle in olive oil to emulsify. Adjust level of oil to reach desired consistency. Set aside.
- Add pasta to boiling water and cook 8-9 minutes or until al dente, roughly 1-2 minutes less than the package directions.
- Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add 2 Tbsp olive oil, shallots and garlic. Cook 4-5 minutes or until softened and fragrant. Add 1/2 tsp kosher salt, 1/4 tsp black pepper and red pepper flakes. Mix in prepared pesto and stir to combine. Add sundried tomatoes.
- Once pasta is cooked, use tongs or a slotted spoon to remove from water and add directly to pan. Do not drain. Use tongs to slightly toss. Add 1/2 cup pasta water to sauce. Mix well. Reserve another 1/2 cup pasta water in case more is needed. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.
- Remove chicken from oven and thinly slice. Mix in to pasta. Serve with fresh basil and freshly grated Parmesan cheese.