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Pesto Cream Pasta with Chicken & Sun-Dried Tomatoes

(nut free, can be vegan and/or gluten free)

One of my favourite local restaurants growing up used to make this amazing pasta dish called Penne Cardinale; it was so good that I would order it every single time I went. Sadly, that restaurant has since closed its doors. I wanted to find a way to honour them and continue to share their legacy and delicious food with others, thus this pasta dish adaptation was born!

Penne pasta with sun-dried tomatoes, chicken, mushrooms, and basil, doused in the creamiest (sans actual cream) pesto sauce. Enough said!

What is nutritional yeast?

It is a yellow powder (the actual yeast cells are killed in manufacturing) that can be added to food to give a cheesy, nutty flavour! In this pasta dish, it does exactly that, but is entirely optional.

How can I make this vegan?

Use dairy free milk (make sure it is unsweetened and plain flavoured!), vegan pesto (one without cheese), and omit the chicken (for more protein, add in some chickpeas or use red lentil or chickpea pasta).

For an easy vegan pesto recipe, check out this homemade Spinach & Basil Pesto recipe!

How can I make this dairy free?

Use dairy free milk (make sure it is unsweetened and plain flavoured!).

How can I make this gluten free?

Use gluten free pasta like brown rice pasta or chickpea/lentil pasta.


Enjoy and let us know how you liked this recipe in the comments below or by tagging @madebyme.g on Instagram!
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Pesto Cream Pasta with Chicken & Sun-Dried Tomatoes


  • Author: Made by Meg
  • Prep Time: 15 mins
  • Cook Time: 45 mins
  • Total Time: 60 mins
  • Yield: 46 servings 1x

Description

Penne pasta with sun-dried tomatoes, chicken, mushrooms, and basil, doused in the creamiest (sans actual cream) pesto sauce. Enough said!


Ingredients

Scale

FOR THE PASTA & ADD-INS:

  • 16 oz penne pasta (~1 full box)
  • 4 medium chicken breasts
  • 1/21 cup sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1 handful fresh basil, chopped

FOR THE PESTO CREAM SAUCE:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/31/2 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp garlic, minced
  • 1 cup mushrooms, chopped
  • 2 cups milk of choice (if dairy free, use unsweetened plain)
  • 3 tsp tapioca, potato, or corn starch
  • 1/2 cup pesto
  • 2 tsp nutritional yeast (optional)
  • 1 tsp salt

Instructions

  1. Cook the chicken: Preheat oven to 375F. Grease a baking sheet or dish and place chicken breasts on it. Sprinkle with salt & pepper, then bake for 30 minutes, or until cooked through and no longer pink inside (cut into one to check). Slice into bite-sized pieces.
  2. While the chicken is cooking, cook the pasta: (According to box instructions). Bring a large pot filled halfway with water to a boil, then place pasta in and cook for ~8 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. Once cooked, drain out the water and set pasta aside.
  3. Make the sauce: Place a large pot or pan (big enough to add your pasta to later) over medium heat. Add the oil and once heated, cook the onion until translucent. Add in the garlic and mushrooms and cook until the mushrooms are soft, another couple minutes. Reduce the heat.
  4. In a separate small bowl, whisk together the milk and starch until dissolved and smooth. Mixing these when cold prevents the starch from going lumpy. 
  5. Add the pesto, milk and starch mixture, nutritional yeast, and salt to the pan and whisk together. Once combined, Bring to medium heat and, stirring frequently, bring to a light boil. Boil for around one minute, then reduce the heat to low.
  6. Add in the sun-dried tomatoes, cooked chicken, and basil, heating for a couple minutes on low heat. Gradually fold in the pasta. You may not need all of the pasta, depending on how big of a serving you are making. 
  7. Remove from heat and serve warm!

Notes

Feel free to add as much or as little sun-dried tomatoes and chicken as you please.

Make it Gluten Free: Use gluten free pasta like brown rice pasta or chickpea/lentil pasta.

Make it Vegan: Use unsweetened plain dairy free milk, vegan pesto (one without cheese), and omit the chicken. For more protein, add in some chickpeas or use red lentil or chickpea pasta.

Make it Dairy Free: Use unsweetened plain dairy free milk.

  • Category: Pasta
  • Cuisine: Italian

Keywords: pasta, chicken, sun-dried tomatoes, basil, mushrooms, main meals, Italian, dinner, lunch, pesto

Categoriesmain meals

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