Pesto Pasta with Grilled Chicken

This Pesto Pasta with Grilled Chicken is an easy and delicious weeknight meal.  Serve it cold as a summer pasta salad or hot as a delicious winter entree!

This Pesto Pasta Salad with Grilled Chicken is an easy and delicious weeknight meal. Serve it cold as a summer pasta salad or hot as a delicious winter entree!Stop and take a moment to think back to being a kid in the summer.  Seriously.  Close your eyes for a moment and think back to what it was like when you were 8-years old, and summer had just started.  That was the best time ever!  I remember waiting with such anticipation for that last day of school.  I think I even made a countdown calendar on the wall where I’d mark off the days left.  Every day seemed to take forever…especially knowing that a whole 3 months of carefree fun was waiting for me!  (Yet now the days…and years…seem to fly by at warp speed.  What’s up with that?)

What was your favorite summer activity?  Mine was swimming.  We lived in Charleston, SC, and we’d hit the beach at least once a week.  To be honest, though, I always preferred swimming in pools.  The ocean water was murky, and you’d occasionally see jellyfish and other things out there with which you didn’t want to become close friends.  My uncle had the best pool ever.  He had a water slide that dumped straight into the pool.  Best. toy. ever.  (And in hindsight, my mom probably agrees because I’m sure I wore myself out running around and around sliding down that thing!)  To this day, I still love waterparks.  What can I say?  I’m still just a big kid at heart!

This Pesto Pasta Salad with Grilled Chicken is an easy and delicious weeknight meal. Serve it cold as a summer pasta salad or hot as a delicious winter entree!Ah, but back to summer!  Is there anything more refreshing that a cold pasta salad on a hot day?  I think my wife and I have enough favorite summer pasta salads to make one every week and not get through them all by the end of the season.  One of our favorites is this Pesto Pasta Salad with Grilled Chicken.  It’s quick and easy, and it has an incredible depth of flavor!

This Pesto Pasta Salad with Grilled Chicken is an easy and delicious weeknight meal. Serve it cold as a summer pasta salad or hot as a delicious winter entree!Every summer, I plant several basil plants in our garden.  I’ll occasionally pick off leaves for various recipes and meals, and then at the end of the summer, I’ll pull off all of the remaining leaves and make a gigantic batch of pesto.  I then freeze the pesto in little cubes and store them in a big bag in the freezer.  Check out my recipe for these Basil Pesto bombs.  Those little pesto bombs come in handy year-round…like for this Pesto Pasta Salad! Speaking of year-round, this Pesto Pasta Salad is a great recipe no matter what time of the year it is.  We serve it cold as a great summer salad and hot as a delicious winter dinner.  Enjoy!

This Pesto Pasta Salad with Grilled Chicken is an easy and delicious weeknight meal. Serve it cold as a summer pasta salad or hot as a delicious winter entree!

Pesto Pasta with Grilled Chicken

This Pesto Pasta with Grilled Chicken is an easy and delicious weeknight meal.  Serve it cold as a summer pasta salad or hot as a delicious winter entree!
Print Pin Rate
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 6 servings
Calories: 531kcal

Ingredients

  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • 16 oz farfalle pasta
  • 1 cup basil pesto homemade or storebought
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes halved
  • ¼ cup fresh basil cut into thin strips (i.e. chiffonade)
  • Parmesan cheese optional

Instructions

  • Season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper.
  • Grill the chicken over medium-high heat for 5-7 minutes per side, or until completely cooked. Transfer chicken to a cutting board and slice into strips.
  • Meanwhile, boil the pasta until al dente according to the package instructions. (Note: I usually cook the pasta for 1-2 minutes less than the package suggests so that the pasta still has some texture.)
  • Rinse and drain pasta and set aside. (Tip: When using pasta for a salad, toss it in a large bowl with a couple Tbsp of milk once it's cooked. The milk helps prevent the pasta from sticking together.)
  • Using a large bowl, mix together the pesto, pasta and chicken. Stir until well combined and place in the refrigerator until chilled.
  • Stir in the cherry tomatoes and fresh basil immediately before serving.
  • Finish with freshly grated Parmesan cheese (optional).

Notes

We often make this exact recipe in the winter, but we serve it hot instead. It works great both ways!

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73 Comments

  1. A pool with a water slide is arguing the best way to keep kids entertained for hours (or adults for that matter). You were one lucky kid David to have an uncle like that!
    Btw loving this pesto chicken pasta, sound summerish and delish. #WolfPackEats

    1. Thanks, Mike…what I wouldn’t give to have a pool with a water slide out back right now. Heck, even a slip-and-slide would be ok by me!

    2. I just made this dish last night David, but I cut everything in half because it is just me. Was delicious. I am trying to make some big lifestyle changes and this helped me a lot to keep on track. Did not make me feel deprived. Is there a place that there is the nutritional info? I have been doing a website that is called my fitness pal. It has you enter in all the food you ate through out the day and then it calculates how many calories you have left to eat for the day. I want to enter this recipe, but it needs to have the nutritional facts.

      1. Hey there, Traci! First of all, thank you so much for trying out this recipe and coming back to let me know how it turned out. It’s one of our favorites, and I’m glad you enjoyed it, too! My wife and I are doing the same thing as you right now and really trying to cut back without feeling deprived. It’s a hard road for sure, but it can be done. Slowly but surely will get you there! 🙂

        As far as the nutrition info, we’ve simply been googling each ingredient and then calculating the calories based on the amount of each ingredient. I have run across my fitness pal, but I haven’t used them myself…so I can’t say much there. However, Laura (my wife) and I have been using an app on our phones called LoseIt. It sounds similar in that you add in meals/snacks/exercise/etc and it calculates how much you have left in the day. I’d say that’s the one downside of cooking recipes yourself…you’ve got to calculate the nutrition on your own. But cooking yourself is WAY better than eating out or eating pre-made meals…so hang in there! Thanks again, and good luck in your journey!

  2. So you are gonna want to throw this pasta salad at me – but I was a weird kid and I loved school – I counted the days to go back after summer break!!! When I was 8, we lived in Sri Lanka with the ocean all around and were at the beach every weekend (no slides and pools though).

    I could eat a whole chicken dipped in that pesto! YUM!

    1. *throws pasta salad at Shashi* Seriously, though…what kid WANTS to go back to school? Dork! Funny thing is that I now love learning. I wish I could just keep taking classes on all sorts of topics…without getting graded, of course.

      And I think I hear a post idea for you…whole chicken dipped in a vat of pesto. Haha! 🙂

    1. Hehe…thanks, Thalia! I love that this can be served hot or cold, too…although we always opt for cold during the summer months. 🙂

  3. Kid or not I look so forward to summer break. Maybe because I am a teacher 😀 Who doesn’t love time off?! This salad looks delicious! I have a basil plant that is going crazy, so I’m ready to make some pesto 😀 Pinning

    1. Oh yes! My basil is going crazy in the backyard, Cindy. I keep picking off the flowers at the top hoping that it will keep growing. I’ve been picking leaves for this and that…but it’s almost time for the big pesto making day! Enjoy the summer break!

    1. It’s one of my favorite, Dannii! And I love that we can pull this out as a winter meal, too…just served hot instead. Thanks for stopping by! 🙂

    1. Good question, Allison! I’d estimate 4 servings from this recipe, although you might have a bit leftover. (There’s nothing wrong with leftovers!!) I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we do! 🙂

  4. Simple and delicious, bravo! Served this warm but will also try chilled. Leftovers were great too. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thank you so much for coming back and commenting, April! I’m not sure if I like this dish hot or cold better…both are excellent. 🙂 I appreciate your comment, and I hope you have an awesome weekend!

  5. I made this for dinner and it was absolutely delicious! It will definitely be a meal I make again. It was very simple and quick to make. Thanks for sharing this recipe.

    1. Hey Amanda! Thank you so much for coming back and leaving a comment. I’m really glad you enjoyed this recipe…it’s one of our staples around here. (And it’s great both hot and cold, too!) 🙂

  6. Delicious recipe and easy to modify. Definitely use a high quality pesto for this. I added toasted pine nuts and sundries tomatoes. I think the most important thing is to give it plenty of time to chill in the fridge. The flavores developed more and more over time. Great for a vacay home in hot weather (which we are experiencing now!0

    Thanksd

  7. hey david waz good i have a question for you
    i was just wondering how many calories are in this and whats healthy about it
    thanks man

    1. Hey there, Josh! So I don’t typically calculate calories in my recipes as I find the calorie counters out there just aren’t very reliable. (They vary quite a bit depending on which one you use…which is pretty surprising.) But in general this recipe is healthy since it just uses grilled chicken. You do have to keep an eye on how much pasta you serve it with, though. And the pesto is a bit calorie-intense, too, but you don’t need that much pesto when it toss it with the pasta before serving. A little bit goes a long way! I hope this answers your question…thanks so much for leaving a comment! Cheers!

    1. Hey Marie! As I noted in the comment above, I don’t typically calculate calories in my recipes as I find the calorie counters out there just aren’t very reliable. (They vary quite a bit depending on which one you use…which is pretty surprising.) But in general this recipe is healthy since it just uses grilled chicken. You do have to keep an eye on how much pasta you serve it with, though. And the pesto is a bit calorie-intense, too, but you don’t need that much pesto when it toss it with the pasta before serving. A little bit goes a long way! I hope this answers your question…thanks so much for leaving a comment! Cheers!

    1. Hey Beth! I’m so glad you enjoyed this pesto pasta. It’s delicious, and it’s one of our favorites. We make it year-round! Also, I really appreciate you stopping back by to leave a comment, too. 🙂

    1. Hey Christy! Great question. We add the tomatoes + basil for both the hot and cold versions of this pasta. Personally I think they bring a ton of flavor to the final dish. I hope you enjoy this one as much as we do…it really is a year-round recipe here in our house! 🙂

  8. Holy moly this is amazing! I’m a college student so I always struggle with finding something affordable, delicious, and healthy. I added some sliced black olives to this and seasoned the chicken with salt, pepper, and garlic powder (huge garlic lover here). 10/10 thank you so much!!

    1. Hey there, Miranda! Thank you so much for stopping back by and leaving a comment. I totally know what you mean about finding that happy balance of affordable, healthy but still tasty. This recipe really works, though! Love the garlic addition (yum!) as well as the black olives. One of my favorite things about this recipe is you can serve it either hot or cold. I like making big batches of this one and then eating it cold for lunches throughout the week. Thanks again, and happy cooking!! 🙂

  9. This looks and sounds very delicious! But, I do not like tomatoes. What can I place in this dish instead?

    1. Hey Kristie! Thanks so much for the kind words. This really is a tasty recipe. As far as the tomatoes, you could absolutely just leave them out. The dish will still taste great. However, if you’re looking for another fresh veggie, you could add some blanched broccolini (or broccoli). Another idea might be chopped roasted red peppers (the kind in the jar). Like I said, though, you could just make the recipe without the tomatoes, and it’ll still be tasty. I hope you enjoy!

      1. Thank you very much for the reply. I am making my shopping list now and I will be adding asparagus to this dish! I am so looking forward to it!

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