17. Recipe: Cilantro Pesto Pasta with Chicken
When it comes to pasta it’s all about going with whole grain and smaller portions. Bulk up the portion size by adding cooked chicken and vegetables (like tomatoes and herbs in this version).
Skill level: Beginner
Start to Finish: 30 minutes
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 15 minutes
1 pound (16 ounces) whole wheat penne pasta
1 bunch fresh cilantro, mostly leaves (about 2 cups)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon lemon juice or white wine vinegar
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
1/2 cup walnuts
Salt to taste (about 1/4 teaspoon)
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups cooked chicken (like rotisserie)
3 Roma or vine-ripened tomatoes, diced
1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add pasta and return water to a boil. Cook pasta for about 10 minute or until al dente; drain well. Cover to keep warm.
2. In an electric food processor or blender, blend cilantro, garlic, lemon juice, Parmesan cheese, cayenne pepper, nuts, and salt.
3. Add about half the amount of the olive oil and blend the pesto. Add more olive oil until the pesto reaches desired consistency.
4. Pour pesto in a small saucepan and warm over low heat, stirring constantly, until pesto begins to simmer.
5. Pour sauce into a large bowl; add pasta over sauce and toss to coat. Add chicken and toss again to mix all ingredients well.
6. Top with fresh sliced tomato and more fresh cilantro to garnish.
Recipe and photo by Christy Wilson, RD.
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