Chicken Pesto Pasta Salad is made with fresh ingredients bursting with the flavor of pesto for a full meal or a hearty side dish for any BBQ!
Course: Side Dish
Keyword: pesto pasta salad
Author: Michele @West Via Midwest
1/2 cup walnuts
1cup fresh basil leavespacked, stems removed
1/2cupfreshly grated parmesan Cheese
1/4cupOlive Oilor more as needed
1pound pastaany bite sized pasta will work
8ouncesboneless, skinless chicken breastshredded (ok to sub thighs)
1cupgrape tomatoescut in half
8ouncesmozzarella cheesecubed to bite sized pieces
4basil leavessliced thinly to strips (garnish)
2tablespoonsparmesan cheesefor garnish
In a large pot bring water to boil to cook the pasta. Cook to al dente, then drain pasta saving 1/4 cup of the water for later. Rinse with cold water to remove starch and stop the cooking process.
Meanwhile, In a food processor, pulse walnuts and garlic to small bits. Then add basil leaves and pulse until well blended. Start with 1/4 cup of olive oil and slowly add to the basil mixture, with the food processor on low speed. Add the grated parmesan cheese and pulse until combined evenly. If mixture seems to dry, add additional olive oil until it looks easily spreadable.
Place pasta back in pot, then add pesto mix and stir to coat evenly. If the pesto isn't covering evenly, add in reserved pasta water a spoonful at a time until it looks even. If you forgot the pasta water, add a little bit of olive oil.
Toss in shredded chicken, halved tomatoes, cubed mozzarella and stir until well combined. Store in the fridge until ready to serve.
Sprinkle strips of basil and fresh parmesan over the top for garnish if desired just before serving.
Freezing is not recommended.
Store leftovers in the fridge for up to 3-4 days. If the pesto pasta salad appears dry, add 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil and toss.
For walnut allergies, use our Nut Free Pesto or a jarred sauce that you enjoy.