Pesto Chicken Pasta

February 28, 2018


How has everyone been this year?  Are your new year resolutions holding strong or have they already fizzled out?  And who is ready for summer {despite it being February}?  I am!  Me!  Me!  I feel like i've been staring at our pool daydreaming of swimming, sunbathing and all things summery.  


In this dreamy state I came up with a fun new dish, with pesto being the super star.  


Bright, fresh and delicious, pesto is such a fun addition to meals.  This pesto I made from scratch and I'll include my recipe.  But feel free to buy a jar of it and use that instead.  One of my favorite things to do with a giant jar of Costco pesto is to freeze it in ice cube trays and use it as I need. 


I think you should give it a try to make it and pat yourself on the back when you're done.  If you have time to make there is nothing like fresh pesto but when your in a crunch for time {and who isn't right?} a jar of it works just as well.  Here are some things to check on the ingredients label of a jar of pesto:


1. All basil tastes better vs the ones that are basil and parsley mixed

2.  Choose something that uses pine nuts



If you go the route of freezing the pesto into cubes, whether it's fresh made or jarred, it will melt so fast in this recipe!  No need to defrost the pesto cubes, you simple toss a few in at the end when the tomatoes are heating up and the warmth will melt it and you'll have delicious pesto pasta!  When I don't have the time or I can't get my hands on fresh pesto this is my trick, I love how fast it is!



Obviously pesto is the heavy hitter all-star of the recipe, but its accentuated with the bright notes of lemon zest and lemon juice.  I also threw in some cherry tomatoes that have been heated with the warm pasta so they are super plump and juicy.  As for the chicken I used a meat mallet and pounded the chicken breasts so they were the same thickness throughout, a little salt and pepper and cooked them on a grill pan to get beautiful grill marks and that char flavor.  SO GOOD.  Drizzling a little lemon juice on the chicken breasts gives it a nice tangy twist and more flavor.



The best part about this is I made extra so I got to have it for lunch the next day, it was awesome {and I am generally anti-leftover, this beef stroganoff is also amazing leftover}.


I'm so excited for you guys to try this one out!!  And please don't feel intimidated with making the pesto, as long as you use a mini food processor and not a giant blender like I did {and went through 30 minutes of being a hot head} before I thought to switch to a small chopper, some things should just be common sense but obviously it wasn't.  





2 c basil (packed)

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/4 c pine nuts

1/2 c + 2 tbs olive oil

1/3 c parmigiano reggiano

1/2 tsp salt (scant, a bit less)

1-2 tbsp lemon juice


Pasta Dish

8 oz dry pasta

1 lemon, zested and juiced

2 chicken breasts, seasoned with a few pinches of salt and pepper

small container cherry tomatoes

1/4 c parmigiano-reggiano

1/2 ball fresh mozzarella, cut into small pieces

1/2 c pasta water



In a small hand chop or mini food processor add the basil, garlic and pine nuts.  Pulse until well chopped.  Add in the olive oil slowly until incorporated, followed by the parmigiano-reggiano and salt.   Add the lemon juice, stir and refrigerate for an hour before using.


(Try to prepare the chicken as you are making the pasta) 


Heat a grill pan (or regular pan) on the stove over medium heat, drizzle with oil.  Put the chicken in a ziploc bag and using a mallet pound the chicken until it's an even thickness for both pieces.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Place the chicken on the hot pan, turning once the first side is golden and has a nice crust developed.  


Cook the chicken until it is no longer pink in the middle.  Remove from heat and let the chicken sit for 10 minutes.  Drizzle with lemon juice and cut into pieces.


Bring a pot of water to a boil, add a few large pinches of salt and your pasta.  Cook until al dente.  It will continue to cook as your dish comes together and you don't want the noodles to be mushy.


Drain pasta, reserving 1/2 c of the pasta water.  Return pasta to the pot along with the pasta water, lemon juice and zest, cherry tomatoes, pesto (as much or little as you like) and mozzarella.  Turn heat to low and cover for 2 minutes, this will heat the tomatoes but not burst them.  Toss in the chicken and stir.


Sprinkle everything with some parmigiano-reggiano.  


Serve and enjoy!




P.S.  If you have been enjoying my blog, make sure to show me some love and invite your friends and family to subscribe as well.  I appreciate each and every one of you who have subscribed and been following along!  If you are wanting to see something special on here, make sure to drop me an email with any requests.



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Welcome to

Modern Crumb!

Thanks for stopping by.  I'm Tara.  Food fan, avid crafter and pizza lover extraordinaire.  I'm a wife and a mom of two kids.  

Modern Crumb is a food blog that shares delicious and easy family friendly recipes that everyone wants to eat!





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