Penne with Chicken and Pistachio Pesto

I feel like things have been getting busier and busier as the months roll on. I’m volunteering in two programs on top of working. Fortunately by the time Tyler gets home, the school district I work for will be on summer break so hopefully life won’t get too crazy.

All this just gives me even more reason to continue seeking out dinners that are easy to make, like this recipe I’m about to share. I love pesto sauce. I think it’s something that is light and healthy but still full of flavor. I enjoy this particular recipe because instead of traditional pine nuts, pistachios are used. This pesto has a nice creamy and nutty balance that really compliments the chicken and pasta.

**Note: I don’t own a food processor, I just combined all the pesto ingredients into my Magic Bullet and it came out great! Secondly, take into consideration that the recipe assumes you have pre-cooked chicken. With that in mind, if you don’t have any pre-cooked chicken make sure to cook some chopped chicken up before you start putting everything together. I flavor it simply with salt and pepper.





  • 3 cups fresh basil leaves (I pack mine tightly)
  • About ½ cup olive oil (I like to stir in up to ¼ cup more after the pesto has been processed)
  • ½ cup pistachios, toasted in a dry pan for 2 – 3 minutes on medium heat until fragrant. Cool slightly before processing with basil leaves
  • 2 – 3 cloves garlic, peeled
  • Salt to taste
  • ⅓ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • Juice of about half a lemon
  • 1 pound penne pasta
  • 2 cooked chicken breast halves, diced
  • Radish sprouts or fresh arugula for garnish (optional)
  1. Put all basil, garlic and pistachios in a food processor and process until the basil and pistachios are in small bits but not too fine, just a few seconds. Add the lemon juice and olive oil and pulse to combine. Transfer to a bowl, stir in the Parmigiano-Reggiano and add salt, to taste. I like to add more olive oil at this stage. Store in refrigerator until ready to use.
  2. To prepare the dish, bring a pot of water to a boil and cook the pasta until al dente (a few minutes sooner than indicated on the package). Drain and toss with the diced chicken and pesto sauce (you may not need all of the pesto). Top with radish sprouts if you wish.



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