Creamy Chicken Pesto Pasta

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You could use any number of pastas with this dish, but I think sturdy pasta like bowtie or penne works best. I included a recipe for just enough pesto, but pesto is a good leftovers dish in itself, so I encourage you to double it. You can freeze the leftover pesto until you need it.

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

Simple Pesto

  • 4 ounces (2 cups) packed fresh basil
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • cup pine nuts
  • cup olive oil
  • cup Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 pound bowtie or penne pasta
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups warm milk
  • ½ cup pesto
  • 8-10 ounces (about 2 heaping cups) shredded chicken
  • Salt and pepper

Method

  1. To make pesto: Add ingredients to a food processor and pulse until mixture forms a paste. Be sure not to overprocess it. Some texture is good.
  2. Cook pasta according to package and drain. Reserve ½ cup cooking water.
  3. In a large pot, add olive oil over medium-high heat. Once hot, add onions and cook until soft, about 5 minutes.
  4. Add flour to pot and whisk until it forms a paste. Cook for 1 minute. Turn down heat to medium-low and slowly whisk in milk. Stir sauce frequently at this point to prevent the milk from burning. If sauce is too thick, add more milk; if it’s too thin, simmer for a few minutes to thicken it.
  5. Once sauce is a light gravy consistency, stir in pesto and shredded chicken. Simmer for a minute and taste for salt and pepper.
  6. Stir in pasta. If sauce gets really thick, add reserved cooking liquid from the pasta. You may or may not need it. Serve immediately.
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