Lemon Almond Pesto Penne with Chicken

January 31, 2020

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Prep Time: 25 minutes

Lemon Almond Pesto Penne with Chicken

A good pasta dish featuring pesto like this lemon almond pesto penne with chicken presents the perfect opportunity to cook with the kids. Something like pesto makes it easy to assign age-appropriate tasks and is hard to mess up so you can put fun at the forefront. The pesto in this recipe is light, bright, herbaceous, and contains spinach for added nutritional value. Almonds are used in place of pine nuts to keep the recipe both cost-effective and appealing to young and more refined palates alike while poached chicken brings lean protein to the party. As for getting kids involved, depending on age, they can do anything from pulsing the pesto in the food processor to pouring in the olive oil. There are also the tasks of measuring ingredients as well as tossing the pasta together before serving. And there’s always the prized role of designated taste tester!


  • 2 (6-ounce) boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • ½ onion
  • 2 peeled garlic cloves
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • Water

Basil and pasta

  • 2 cups fresh basil, packed
  • 1 cup fresh baby spinach, packed
  • ½ cup almonds
  • ½ cup grated parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
  • 1 peeled garlic clove
  • ¼ teaspoon lemon zest
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • ¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more if needed
  • Kosher salt
  • Black pepper
  • 1 pound dried penne or any pasta you like

Nutrition Facts

(per serving)
  • Calories 735
  • Total Fat 40 – Percent Daily Value 61%
  • Saturated Fat 6.3g – Percent Daily Value 31%
  • Trans Fat 0.1g
  • Cholesterol 65mg – Percent Daily Value 22%
  • Sodium 561mg – Percent Daily Value 23%
  • Total Carbohydrate 67g – Percent Daily Value 22%
  • Dietary Fiber 11g – Percent Daily Value 42%
  • Sugars 1g
  • Protein 30g – Percent Daily Value 60%
  • Vitamin A 23%
  • Vitamin C 9%
  • Calcium 16%
  • Iron 13%

*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.


  • Rinse the chicken and place it into a medium pot with the onion, garlic, soy sauce, and black pepper.
  • Pour in the chicken broth then add enough water to cover the chicken.
  • Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
  • Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for 15 minutes or until the chicken is opaque.
  • Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to a boil for the pasta.
  • As the chicken is cooking and the pasta water is coming to a boil, transfer the basil to a food processor with the spinach, almonds, parmesan cheese, garlic, and lemon zest.
  • Pulse until combined. Stop to scrape the sides occasionally.
  • Add the lemon juice then run the food processor as you deliver the olive oil in a steady stream. Stop once the pesto is smooth.
  • Season the pesto to taste with salt and black pepper.
  • Transfer the pesto to a bowl, cover with plastic and set aside until it’s time to bring everything together.
  • Remove the chicken from the poaching liquid.
  • Cut the chicken into chunks, strips, slices, or shred it if you wish.
  • Generously salt the pasta water once boiling.
  • Add the penne and cook for 9 minutes or until al dente.
  • Reserve half a cup of the starchy pasta water then drain the pasta.
  • Transfer the penne to a serving bowl with the chicken.
  • Spoon the pesto over the pasta and chicken. Toss.
  • Season to taste with salt and black pepper.
  • Add the reserved pasta water as needed to help the pesto bind to the pasta to create a sauce.
  • Plate and serve. Garnish each serving with parmesan cheese if desired.

Written By Ripcee

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