Freshly made pesto tossed thru this chicken pesto pasta recipe is a potluck standout as a main dish or a summer BBQ side dish.
This Chicken Pesto Pasta recipe is a summertime favorite at our house. Freshly prepared pesto made from basil, nuts and parmesan cheese is tossed with pasta, tomatoes, cheese and chicken for a hearty BBQ side dish or as a lunch time main course salad.
What is Pesto?
Pesto is an Genovese sauce traditionally made with basil, nuts, parmesan, olive oil and garlic. All of these ingredients are placed in a food processor and blended to make the sauce.
You can either blend finely or pulse the processor to get more of a coarse ground pesto.
Traditional pesto is made with basil but you can make it with other herbs such as cilantro or parsley.
Often pine nuts are used, but in this recipe I used walnuts, although you can sub here as well as pecans and almonds also work great in pesto.
Pesto is served uncooked, although it can be added as a flavor additive to tomato sauces and cooked.
Pesto can be made in big batches when basil is plentiful and frozen for quick use at a later date.
In the recipe for Chicken Pesto Pasta Salad I’m sharing today this pesto sauce is then tossed with freshly cooked pasta and made into a full meal with the addition of tomatoes, chunks of mozzarella and pieces of chicken.
Tips for making Chicken Pesto Pasta:
When you are making the pasta salad the easiest way to make sure that the pesto is evenly spread is to make sure and add the pesto to the pasta and mix well before adding all of the other ingredients.
At this point you can add a little extra olive oil or a save a little of the water the pasta was boiled in and add it in to help spread the pesto sauce if it looks clumpy.
You will want to cut into equal bite sized pieces anything you are adding to the salad. I removed all of the bones from the chicken and shredded it, the tomatoes were cut in half and then the mozzarella cheese was also cubed for easy eating! For added flavor I also sliced thinly some extra basil to sprinkle on the top.
Then toss all of these ingredients in and serve. The beauty of this chicken pesto pasta salad is that it can be made ahead and served either chilled or at room temperature.
Other BBQ Side Dish recipes to have at your next summer BBQ:
Pin this recipe to your Summer Side Dish Board or your FOOD TO MAKE FOR A CROWD board!
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This recipe was originally published on Yellow Bliss Road where I am a contributor.
- 1/2 cup walnuts
- 5-10 cloves garlic peeled
- 1 cup basil leaves packed, stems removed
- 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan Cheese
- 1/4- 1/2 cup Olive Oil
- 1 pound pasta any bite sized pasta will work
- 8 ounces chicken breasts shredded (ok to sub thighs)
- 1 cup grape tomatoes
- 8 ounces mozzarella cheese, cubed to bite sized pieces
- 4 basil leaves sliced thinly to strips (garnish)
- 2 tablespoons parmesan cheese garnish