Looking for a flavorful and healthy recipe for fueling your body after an active day? Our Grilled Chicken Pesto Pasta is a balanced meal with healthy fats, complex carbohydrates, and lean protein. This is a delicious healthy chicken pasta recipe that will add some variety to your meal plan and will refuel your working muscles.
Need a little more variety in your running meal plan? We created this Healthy Grilled Chicken Pesto Pasta recipe inspired by Mediterranean flavors that’s perfect for runners looking for a balanced but flavorful meal.
Our healthy chicken pesto pasta recipe is a well-balanced meal that has healthy fats, lean protein, and complex carbohydrates to fuel your next run, and help with recovery!
This healthy pasta recipe is pretty easy to make, and we include a delicious pesto recipe so you can make your own!
Its one of the dishes featured in our Marathon Training Meal Plan, which you can download for free at the end of this post!
So whether you’re in marathon training or simply looking for a delicious, nutritious dish…read on!
If you have food allergies, we also provide some easy swaps to make this recipe fit your food allergies, and we share some options for cooking the chicken without a grill if you don’t have access to one.
Read on for tips on making this healthy chicken pesto pasta!
How To Make Our Healthy Chicken Pasta Recipe
There are 3 parts to this amazing recipe: preparing your pesto, preparing the chicken, and preparing the pasta. You can do all these things simultaneously, so the prep and cooking time for this recipe should only take about 30 minutes or less.
- Prepare your pesto first while you heat your water for pasta and preheat your grill. The pesto will only take about 5 minutes to make in a small-ish sized food processor.
- Season and grill your chicken. Cooking the chicken over medium heat will take about 10 minutes (or 12-13 minutes if they are larger).
- Once the water is boiling, cook your whole-wheat pasta.
- Assemble everything! Combine the pasta, pesto, chicken, marinated artichokes, and fresh tomatoes together and serve.
Our recipe card with complete instructions and ingredients is at the end of the post!
We like to grill with chicken breasts that are smaller and cut/portioned to cook evenly so most of them will cook in the same time.
If you have chicken breasts that are rather thick, you can cut them in half horizontally or pound the chicken between two pieces of plastic wrap (or in a plastic bag) to make them uniform thicknesses for easier grilling.
Cutting the chicken breasts in half or pounding the chicken isn’t absolutely necessary for this recipe, but we find that it makes cooking a bit faster and easier!
How To Cook the Pesto Chicken Without a Grill
Grilling the pesto chicken in this recipe makes it taste amazing, but if you don’t have access to a grill, you can cook this in the oven instead.
To cook the chicken in the oven, preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Spray the bottom of a glass 9×13 baking dish and season the chicken as listed in the recipe.
Cover the pan with foil and bake for 18 minutes. Remove the foil and check the chicken, it will likely need a few minutes more if they aren’t small chicken breasts. If you’ve cut the chicken breasts in half or pounded the chicken, 18 minutes might be plenty of cooking time.
If the chicken needs more time to cook, remove the foil and cook again in the oven for another 5 minutes or until the chicken is firm or the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.
Can I Use Store Bought Pesto In This Recipe?
Making pesto at home is really rewarding: you have the freshest ingredients in your pesto that are hand chosen by you!
But if you don’t have the time to make your own pesto or you’re having a hard time finding some of the ingredients, you can definitely use pre-made pesto from the store.
If you’re using store bought pesto, check the ingredients to make sure you find one that has few (or no) preservatives in it and is made with natural ingredients.
What Swaps Can I Make If I Have Food Allergies?
If you have food allergies, here are a few swaps you can easily make in this healthy chicken pasta recipe to accommodate!
- If you can’t have gluten, use a whole grain gluten free or grain free pasta that fits your diet. Some great options are brown rice pasta, corn or quinoa pasta, or chickpea or lentil pasta.
- Pine nuts can be replaced with roasted sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds if you have tree nut allergies.
- Can’t have dairy? Dairy free parmesan works great in this recipe as well! We love the Violife brand of dairy free parmesan.
- 1/4 cup grated parmesan
- 3 Tablespoons toasted pine nuts
- 3 cups loose packed fresh basil leaves, washed
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 clove fresh garlic, minced or pressed
- 1/3 cup olive oil
Whole Wheat Pesto Pasta
- 1 Tablespoon oilve oil
- Dash salt
- 8 ounces whole wheat thin spaghetti (or gluten free pasta)
- 1/4 Tablespoons homemade pesto
Grilled Presto Chicken
- 1/4 cup homemade pesto (or jarred pesto if you don't have time to make your own pesto)
- 5 medium-sized chicken breasts (about 1 pound chicken in 3 ounce portions/breasts), cut in half horior pounded if they are large
- Seasonings: salt, black pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder
- 1 (12 oz.) jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained
- 1 pound cherry tomatoes, washed and halved
- Fill a 2-quart saucepan 3/4 full of water, add your olive oil and a sprinkle of salt to the water and heat for your whole wheat pasta.
- Prepare the pesto: place the pine nuts and parmesan cheese in a small food processor and process until it forms small crumbs.
- Add the basil, salt, and garlic, and process again until it's finely chopped. Scrape down the sides of your processor, add the olive oil, and process again for about a minute until your pesto is a sauce but still has some texture (it's not completely pureed). You may have to stop a time or 2 to scrape the sides of your processor to make sure everything gets mixed.
- Set aside the pesto. This makes about 3/4 cup of pesto, you'll only need about 1/2 cup for this recipe, so you'll have some pesto left over for other recipes.
- Prepare the chicken: Heat your grill, scrape/clean the grates, and oil the grates. Depending on the outdoor temperature, it may take 5-10 minutes to warm up. Once it's about 400 degrees F / 200 degrees C, turn it to medium heat.
- Once the pesto is done, prepare the chicken: sprinkle each side of the chicken breast with salt, pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder, then spread about 1 teaspoon pesto on each side of the chicken breast.
- Grill the chicken over medium heat on your pre-heated grill for about 4-5 minutes on each side. If the chicken breasts are large or thick, you may need to grill another 4 minutes to cook completely.
- When the water in your saucepan begins to boil, add your whole wheat pasta and cook according to package directions.
- Strain the water out of the cooked pasta and set aside, adding a little more olive oil to the pasta to keep it from sticking while you prepare the other ingredients.
Putting it all together
- Toss 1/4 cup pesto into the pasta, add salt and pepper to taste. Add the drained artichoke hearts and cherry tomatoes.
- Divide the pasta onto 4 plates, add 1 sliced grilled chicken breast, and garnish with aa few basil leaves and additional grated parmesan.
I love fresh tomatoes in this recipe, but you can lightly roast or saute the tomatoes if you like before adding them to the pasta.
If you don't have the time to make your own pesto, pesto from a jar works great, instead!
Store leftovers in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
Please note nutrition information is an estimate only and may change depending on your choice of ingredients
Serving Size:1/5 recipe
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 480 Total Fat: 21gSaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 65mgSodium: 886mgCarbohydrates: 45gFiber: 9gSugar: 6gProtein: 35g
Looking for more meal ideas to fuel your run training?
Grab a free copy of our Marathon Training Meal Plan below!