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!
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!
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!
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!
Pesto Pasta with Grilled Chicken
- 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
- 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).