Basil Pesto Chicken Pasta

pesto pasta salad


Basil pesto chicken pasta is the perfect weeknight summer dinner. Fresh basil pesto combined with cherry tomatoes,mozzarella, chicken, arugula, and short cut pasta; this couldn’t be easier to prepare.

In this recipe, I used my simple homemade basil pesto and a store bought rotisserie chicken.  If you have a little extra to prepare, roast two chicken breasts instead of using the rotisserie chicken.  On the other hand, if you only have a couple of minutes to whip up dinner, you can use your favorite store bought pesto. Just wake up the flavors by adding 1-2 tbsp lemon juice.

This dish is perfect served at room temperature or chilled.  It’s also a lovely entree for a picnic!


  • 14.5 oz short cut pasta
  • 1 cup basil pesto, see recipe below
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 8 oz container of Ciliegine mozzarella aka “small cherry” mozzarella
  • 2 chicken breasts from a whole rotisserie chicken, skin removed and shredded
  • 2 cups arugula
  • salt and pepper to taste


Prepare pasta according to package directions, reserving 1/4 cup pasta water.  Drain pasta and reserve.

Combine pesto and reserved pasta water in serving bowl.  This will thin the pesto, making it easier to coat pasta. Add cooked pasta and toss to combine.

Add the remaining ingredients. Toss and serve.

Basil Pesto Recipe:


  • 2  cups packed fresh basil leaves
  • 2 tbsp pine nuts, toasted
  • 2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup olive oil


Combine first 5 ingredients in a food processor. Add 2 tbsp olive oil. Pulse 2-3 times until a rough paste forms.  Repeat with more oil, adding 1 tbsp at a time pulsing until smooth.  Add parmesan cheese and pulse to combine.


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