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A cast iron skillet filled with pasta topped with scoops of ricotta cheese.
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5 from 3 votes

Chicken Pesto Pasta

Easy to stock ingredients create a flavor-packed sauce for this rustic Chicken Pesto Pasta. This quick and easy pasta is loaded with tender bites of chicken, pesto, roasted red peppers and creamy ricotta cheese.
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Total Time25 mins
Course: Main Course, Pasta
Cuisine: Italian
Servings: 6 servings
Calories: 443kcal

Ingredients

  • 10 ounces dry penne pasta about 2 ½ cups (see Notes below)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 ½ pounds boneless skinless chicken breast
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • ½ teaspoon salt or to taste
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes or to taste
  • 12 ounce jar roasted red peppers chopped
  • ½ cup half and half
  • ½ cup pesto
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese part-skim or whole
  • cup grated Parmesan cheese plus additional for garnish
  • fresh basil sliced or torn (optional garnish)

Instructions

  • Cook the penne about one minute shy of the package directions. Meanwhile, cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces.
  • While the pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil in a deep 12-inch skillet over MEDIUM-HIGH heat. Add the chicken and garlic and sauté for several minutes, until the chicken is just lightly golden brown. Season with salt, pepper and crushed red pepper. Add the roasted red peppers and cook, stirring, for another minute or two or until the chicken is thoroughly cooked. Reduce the heat to MEDIUM and add the half and half and pesto and stir well to combine it with the chicken and any accumulated juices in the skillet to create a sauce.
  • Drain the cooked pasta well and add it to the skillet with the chicken and stir to combine the mixture. Drop small dollops of the ricotta over the pasta and sprinkle the Parmesan cheese over the top. Cover the skillet and simmer over LOW heat for about 10 minutes, or until the ricotta is softened and beginning to melt into the pasta.
  • Garnish with additional Parmesan and fresh basil before serving, if desired.

Notes

I think penne is the best choice for this recipe but any short pasta will work. Feel free to substitute farfalle (bowtie), medium shells, fusilli, or ziti.
For a nice touch, garnish the finished pasta with fresh basil and shaved Parmesan.
 

Nutrition

Calories: 443kcal | Carbohydrates: 22g | Protein: 35g | Fat: 23g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 99mg | Sodium: 1458mg | Potassium: 617mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 1048IU | Vitamin C: 28mg | Calcium: 250mg | Iron: 2mg