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Basil Pesto Chicken Breast
with pesto pasta salad

Active: 35 minTotal: 35 min
20130706 grilled chicken pasta salad 1.jpg?ixlib=rails 2.1

Basil pesto gives simple grilled chicken breasts and pasta salad a boost in summer flavor. Feel free to experiment with your pesto flavor by using different nuts and varying the amounts of cheese you use.


Grilled Chicken Breast with Basil Pesto:
  • Chicken breasts - 4, halved
  • Cooking oil - 1 1/2 Tbsp
  • Basil pesto sauce - ingredients listed separately
Basil Pesto Sauce:
  • Pine nuts - 1/2 cup
  • Basil, loosely packed - 4 cups
  • Garlic - 2 cloves, peeled
  • Parmesan - 2 Tbsp ((Plus more for serving))
  • Salt - 1/2 tsp
  • Olive oil - 1/4 to 1/2 cup
  • Lemon - 1
Italian Pasta Salad with Mozzarella & Tomatoes:
  • Cherry tomatoes - 1 pint, halved
  • Fresh mozzarella - 1/2 lb, cubed
  • Fusilli (or other fun-shaped pasta) - 1/2 lb
  • Basil pesto sauce - ingredients listed separately
  • Lemon - 1/2, juice of

Nutrition Facts

Serving Size: 1 serving
Servings Per Recipe 4
Amount Per Serving
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% Daily Value
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  1. Chicken - Halve and then season & tenderize with salt & pepper. (Can be done up to 1 day ahead)
  2. Make pesto - Pulse pine nuts, basil leaves, garlic, parmesan, and salt in a food processor. Drizzle in olive oil until you get a sauce-like consistency. Squeeze in juice of 1/2 a lemon and season to taste with salt & pepper. (Can be done ahead of time and frozen up to 6 mos.)
  3. Tomatoes / Mozzarella - Prep as directed.


  1. Bring a saucepan of water to boil. Salt heavily (that water should taste like the ocean!) and add pasta. Cook until al dente, tender but not soggy. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup (118ml) of the salted pasta water.
  2. Toss pasta with reserved pasta water and enough pesto to coat (use remainder for protein). Next add in tomatoes, mozzarella, and lemon juice. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  3. Chicken - Grill pan directions: Preheat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Brush pan with cooking oil, and then add chicken pieces. Sear on both sides for 3 minutes. Lower heat to medium, cover with foil, and cook for another 3 to 5 minutes, until chicken reaches 165F (74C) degrees.
  4. Chicken - Grill directions: Preheat grill to 400F (163C) degrees, keeping one part on higher heat and another part on lower heat. Clean & oil grates and add chicken pieces to higher heat part. Sear on both sides for 2 to 3 minutes and then move to lower heat. Cook until 165F (74C) degrees, about another 2 to 3 minutes.
  5. Reserve half of chicken for tomorrow night's dinner or a future meal (can freeze for up to 6 mos.) and enjoy tonight's portion with pesto sauce and pasta salad.

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This meal has 14 reviews

Nice easy and delicious meal! Hubby not a fan of cherry tomatoes so I swapped with sundried tomatoes that I sauted with some garlic and heavy cream before adding in pesto, pasta and chicken. Even one and three year old devoured their plates!!

By: Jena
Posted: Dec 11, 2016
Diet: Original

Really good and really easy. Used pre-made pesto. Seasoned the chicken with salt, pepper and garlic and just sautéed until down. The pasta was fresh and delicious.

By: Kate
Posted: May 28, 2015
Diet: Original

The pasta was so good and filling that the chicken seemed unnecessary (though it was yummy too). Added extra garlic to the pesto which gave it a spicy taste. My husband LOVED it. The only complaint from me is that I could taste the starchiness of the pasta water that was added back into the sauce and thought it detracted from the delicious pesto, tomatoes, and cheese.

By: Sundi
Posted: Nov 19, 2014
Diet: Original

Chicken turned out so moist and pesto pasta salad was DELICIOUS!

By: Stacey
Posted: Sep 17, 2014
Diet: Original

Used store bought pesto and I agree with other users - it would have been better with homemade.

By: Lowana
Posted: May 28, 2014
Diet: Original

add 1 can artichoke hearts, drained, quartered to the mix I also prefer a bit more cheese. Another tip, you can do this another cooksmarts dish that requires 1/2 a rotisserie chicken, using the other 1/2 instead of chicken breasts.

By: Allison
Posted: Apr 28, 2014
Diet: Original