Recipe Index

Italian | Penne with Chicken and Lemon Basil Pesto

Posted on August 17, 2011

Great way to use summertime basil. I love the lemony flavor. I used penne, but you can use another pasta. Omit the chicken and cheese to make vegan. Recipe called for 3 cloves garlic, I like a little more, do it to your taste. Also recipe called for basil olive oil, I don't really think you need it, you can use regular olive oil just be sure to use a total of 6 ounces. I like using roasted, shredded chicken, see note on bottom on how to roast chicken.

Yield: 6 servings

penne with chicken and lemon basil pesto


3 to 5 cloves garlic, peeled

zest of 1 lemon

4 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, plus more for seasoning adjustment

1 1/2 cups loosely packed, about 1 bunch, fresh basil leaves

4 ounces (1 cup) pine nuts, toasted

3 ounces extra virgin olive oil

3 ounces basil olive oil (or plain extra-virgin, if you don't have basil)

kosher sea salt, to taste

freshly ground pepper, to taste

8 ounces roasted, grilled, or poached chicken, chopped or shredded (or a little more)

1 pound penne (or spaghetti), cooked and drained

4 ounces Parmigiano Reggiano, grated



In a food processor with the knife blade or a blender, process the garlic and lemon zest until finely chopped. Add the lemon juice, basil (in batches if necessary), and 3 ounces of the pine nuts and puree until almost smooth. With the machine running, add the oils in a steady stream and process until smooth, then season to taste with salt and pepper. Add more lemon juice if desired.

In a large mixing bowl, toss the pesto with the chicken, hot pasta and grated cheese. Serve garnished with the remaining pine nuts.

How to roast chicken breasts: I use a whole breast, both sides, deboned, skin on. Put in a pan, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Roast in 400 degree oven for 40 minutes or until chicken is 165 degrees internal temperature. I like to roast skin side up for 20 minutes, skin side down for 20, then up again for 10.


(Ref. Home Chef's "Spaghetti with Chicken and Lemon Basil Pesto" recipe, "Summer Pasta Sauces" class.)