Pesto Chicken Penne

  • Level: Intermediate
  • Total: 35 min
  • Active: 35 min
  • Yield: 3 servings
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200 grams/7 ounces fresh basil leaves

100 grams/3.5 ounces Parmesan, grated

100 grams/3.5 ounces pine nuts, toasted

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1 green chile, seeded

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

160 milliliters/5.5 ounces olive oil, plus for topping off the jar

Chicken Penne:

2 cloves garlic, crushed

4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut into strips

Salt and pepper

1 tablespoon dried Italian mixed herbs

250 grams/9 ounces cherry tomatoes, halved

500 grams/17.5 ounces penne, cooked until al dente

To serve:

1 lemon

Shaved Parmesan (using a vegetable peeler)

Basil leaves


  1. For the pesto: Add the basil, Parmesan, pine nuts, garlic, chile and some salt and pepper to a food processor. Process until smooth and well combined. With the motor running, slowly add the olive oil; process to a thick pesto.
  2. Transfer to a sterilized jar and cover with a layer of oil to seal. Store in the refrigerator until needed.
  3. For the chicken penne: Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil from the pesto in large skillet. Add the garlic and saute for 1 minute.
  4. Add the chicken strips and sprinkle with salt, pepper and the Italian herbs. Fry until almost cooked through, 5 minutes. Add the cherry tomatoes and cook for a further 2 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through.
  5. Add the cooked penne to the skillet, as well as 4 heaping tablespoons of the pesto. Stir it all together, then transfer to a serving bowl.
  6. Grate some lemon zest over the top and squeeze over the juice of 1/2 lemon. Finish with Parmesan shavings and basil leaves. Serve warm.