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black square plate with chicken pesto pasta and roasted tomatoes

The Best Pesto Recipe: Pesto Pasta with Chicken & Roasted Tomatoes

This is the Pesto Recipe you've been looking for! My kids totally dig our so-called 'yummy green sauce' and we think yours will too!
Course Dinner, Lunch, Main Course
Cuisine Americanized Italian, Italian
Total Time 28 minutes
Servings 6
Calories 681.2kcal


  • Vitamix or blender


  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
  • ½ Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 Teaspoon salt
  • ½ Teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 Pound pasta (we used rotini)
  • 1-2 cups pre-cooked chicken, cut or hand separated


  • ½ cup spinach, packed firmly
  • ½ cup fresh basil leaves, packed firmly
  • ½ cup fresh parsley, de-stemmed
  • ½ cup parmesan cheese, finely grated (plus extra for plating)
  • ¼ cup pine nuts
  • 1 clove garlic, quartered
  • ¼ Teaspoon salt
  • ⅓ - ½ cup olive oil


  • Preheat oven to 400. [And take a second to start heating water for pasta]. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, mix together tomatoes, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Spread tomatoes on parchment paper, cut side up. Roast for 10-15 mins. Set aside.
  • Meanwhile, cook pasta according to instructions on package. Drain pasta in a colander and return to pot or large bowl.
  • Combine all pesto ingredients (except olive oil) into a Vitamix or blender. Turn machine on and off several times, scraping sides with spatula in between. Turn machine on low and slowly add in olive oil, stopping to scrape the sides as needed. 
  • Stir chicken and pesto into pasta pot. Mix in roasted tomatoes. Serve with parmesan cheese sprinkled atop, as desired.


🍅 Top with extra parmesan cheese for maximum deliciousness.
🍅 Ingredient swap options: do full spinach or half spinach / half basil; almonds or walnuts instead of pine nuts; nuts can be toasted or raw; replace some of the oil with water; add other greens, i.e. mint
🍅 To make the pesto vegetarian, just ditch the chicken. To make it vegan, also replace the parmesan with 2T nutritional yeast
🍅 To make the dish gluten-free, use whichever gluten-free pasta you like. I recommend: Ancient Harvest quinoa pasta (just be careful not to overcook cause it can get mushy), Trader Joe's Organic Brown Rice & Quinoa Fusilli Pasta, Barilla's gluten-free pastas, and Ronzoni's gluten-free pastas.
🍅 Cut your tomatoes length-wise so they hold their juices in better while being roasted.
🍅 If you can splurge on any one ingredient, choose a great olive oil...extra virgin olive oil, either Italian or Spanish, stored in a dark glass bottle.
🍅 I recommend you buy a whole, roasted chicken. The flavor is better than those packets of pre-cooked chicken, and it ends up being more cost-effective. You can use the rest of the chicken throughout the week for multiple other dishes.
🍅 Garlic Bread is the best side! My kids' favorite is Pepperidge Farm's frozen garlic bread. I always try to have two loaves in the freezer at a time.


Serving: 1serving | Calories: 681.2kcal | Carbohydrates: 60.25g | Protein: 21.88g | Fat: 39.5g | Saturated Fat: 6.48g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 5.95g | Monounsaturated Fat: 24.94g | Cholesterol: 27.17mg | Sodium: 644.87mg | Potassium: 432.77mg | Fiber: 3.28g | Sugar: 3.6g | Vitamin A: 1083.57IU | Vitamin C: 19.24mg | Calcium: 133.32mg | Iron: 2.6mg