Chicken Penne Pesto Pasta

A simple yet flavorful Pine nut-free pesto with simple penne guaranteed to be a crowd pleaser! I recently taught this dish at a healthy cooking class with great reception. You have all the amazing flavor of a restaurant dish without all the additional fat. I hope this recipe treats you well and leaves you with an empty plate accompanied with a great smile!


  • For pesto:
    1 cup basil leaves½ cup blanched spinach
  • 6-8 garlic cloves
  • Kosher Salt
  • Fresh Cracked Black Pepper
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • ¼-1/2 cup parmesan or asiago cheese

For chicken

  • 2-3 large chicken breast
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • ¾ cup olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • Fresh Black Pepper (to taste)
  • Kosher Salt (to taste)
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 7-10 large basil leaves
  • 1 lb box penne pasta
  • Olive oil- for tossing
  • Kosher salt-to taste
  • Black pepper- to taste
  • 1-fresh lemon- zested and juiced



  1. Combine all pesto ingredients in blender except oil and pulse, stream in oil and blend on medium high until creamy and smooth- if too course, add more oil or lemon juice
    Blend together marinade ingredients and place chicken breast in marinade for 2 hours or overnight.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  3. Heat 3 tbsp olive oil in pan over medium high heat and place chicken round side down. Sear until golden brown and turn. Sear until brown and place in preheated oven for 5-10 minutes; check temp, 165 and its finished cooking
  4. Cook pasta according to packaging directions and toss in olive oil, heat saute pan over medium high heat, add cooked pasta, salt and black pepper. Saute for 1-2 minutes and add 2-4 tbsp of pesto( start with two and add in 1 tbsp increments). Toss and saute for 2-3 more minutes until evenly coated.
  5. Plate pasta and served with sliced chicken breasts- garnish with lemon zest and squirt of lemon juice

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