Hi there! It’s Alyssa from My Sequined Life back to share an easy and quick dinner recipe – creamy avocado pesto chicken pasta. It’s a lightened up version of traditional basil pesto and is done in about 45 minutes (including time to bake the chicken).
Growing up we’d eat pasta at least once a week, which may sound like it would be something we’d get tired of after awhile, but with a seemingly endless number of ways to mix up flavors, proteins, sauces, etc. we never did. One favorite that snuck in the rotation more than others was pesto.
Specifically pesto with as many basil leaves that can be packed in there as possible. We had a few basil plants in our backyard that would go nuts in the summertime, so any meal that used fresh basil quickly shot to the top of the list. Good thing we like basil. 🙂
read more: Try our Basic Pesto Recipe next!
Since we’re moving this spring, my garden will have to wait to be planted for a little while, so I made do with basil from the grocery store. This avocado pesto chicken pasta features a hearty amount of it (one-and-a-half packed cups) like my childhood favorite, but has a fun change in that an avocado is added to the sauce for a seriously creamy twist that reduces the quantity of oil used. Just throw a ripe avocado in the food processor when you’re mixing up the sauce and that’s it!
There are a few customizable options here. I baked chicken tenders with a simple coating of olive oil and spices and served them on top of (and mixed into) this pasta. This would be a great dish to use leftover cooked chicken, or you can omit for a vegetarian option. Then there’s the pasta. I used penne, but your preferred pasta shape would work just fine. There’s definitely room to do your own thing!
read more: Looking for more easy Italian recipes? Try our best ever Bolognese Recipe as well!
What is Pesto?
Pesto is a sauce of crushed basil leaves, pine nuts, garlic, Parmesan cheese, and olive oil. It is usually served with pasta.
How Long Will Pesto Keep?
Homemade pesto will keep 5-7 days in the refrigerator. It can be frozen for 3-4 months.
How Can You Tell if an Avocado is Ripe?
Gently squeeze the avocado in the palm of your hand. If it indents slightly, but does not remain indented, it is ripe. If it remains indented or feels mushy, it is overripe. You can also gently push on the stem, if it slightly pushes into the avocado, it is ripe.
Avocado Pesto Chicken Pasta
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Creamy Avocado Pesto Chicken Pasta
For the Chicken:
- 4-5 chicken breast tenders
- olive oil for brushing
- spices for chicken
For the Pasta:
- 1 lb penne pasta or desired pasta
- 1 tbsp salt
For the Sauce:
- 1 1/2 cups fresh basil leaves packed
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1/4 cup pine nuts or walnuts I used a mixture of both
- 2 1/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice about 1 lemon
- 1 avocado
- sea salt and pepper
- 3 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
To make the chicken:
- Heat oven to 400 degrees F.
- Brush chicken generously with olive oil and season with desired spices. I sprinkled salt, pepper, garlic powder, dried basil, and cayenne pepper over top.
- Place chicken equally-spaced on greased baking sheet and cook for 15-20 minutes, or until chicken is completely white throughout and internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F.
- Cut chicken into small pieces and set aside.
To make the pasta:
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add salt.
- Add penne and cook for 11 minutes, or until your preferred doneness.
- While the pasta is cooking, prepare sauce.
- Add basil leaves, garlic, and nuts to a food processor and pulse so the basil and nuts are well broken up.
- Add olive oil, lemon juice, avocado flesh, and salt and pepper and process until sauce is creamy.
- Once the pasta is done, drain cooked penne with a colander and return pasta to the pot.
- Add sauce, Parmesan cheese, and chicken and stir so that everything is combined.
- Serve while warm.
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