Pasta with Chicken and Red Pesto Sauce

Pasta with Chicken and Red Pesto Sauce

A delicious and easy pasta recipe with penne pasta tossed with red pesto sauce, sprinkled with Parmesan cheese and garnished with fresh basil.

Penne is a popular ingredient in several pasta salads and traditionally cooked to al dente (to the tooth) and served with pasta sauces like pesto and marinara. Generally penne comes in two main varieties: “penne lisce” (smooth) and “penne rigate” (furrowed / pasta with ridges).
Pesto is basically a paste of basil, garlic, pine nuts and cheese, commonly used on pasta. Pesto can be either green (original with basil leaves) or red (with sun-dried tomatoes or red bell peppers) varieties.

Red Pesto Sauce


  • Sun-dried tomatoes, drained & chopped: ½ cup
  • Fresh basil: 3 cups
  • Garlic cloves, peeled and chopped: 3
  • Fresh Romano cheese, grated: ½ cup
  • Pine nuts: ½ cup
  • Olive oil: ½ cup
  • Lukewarm water: ¼ cup (as required)
  • Lemon juice: 1 tbsp (optional)
  • Salt: ½ tsp
  • Black pepper, freshly ground: ¼ tsp


  1. Blanch the basil leaves in hot water and immediately put basil in ice water (Ensure that basil leaves are completely cooled). Drain and squeeze water from basil leaves.
  2. Drain and chop the tomatoes. In a food processor / blender, add the chopped tomatoes, basil & chopped garlic and blend until the mix is a little coarse (Add water if necessary).
  3. Add the grated cheese, pine nuts and half the oil (¼ cup) and blend well (Scrape the sides of the blender).
  4. Add salt & pepper and the remaining oil (¼ cup) and blend well to form a smooth paste.
  5. Pour the pesto sauce in a bottle and keep aside.

Pasta Recipe:


  • Penne Rigate pasta: 16 ounces / 500 gms / 2 ½ cups
  • Olive oil: ½ cup
  • Garlic cloves, peeled & crushed: 2
  • Grilled chicken, shredded: 1 cup
  • Red pesto sauce: 3 tbsp
  • Olives, halved: 2 tbsp
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Red wine (optional)
  • Feta cheese, crumbled: 3 tbsp
  • Parmesan cheese, freshly grated: 3 tbsp
  • Fresh basil leaves, chopped: 3 tbsp for garnish


  1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 8 – 10 minutes or until al dente, drain and return to pot. Keep aside.
  2. Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat and saute the chopped garlic for 2 minutes.
  3. Add the pesto sauce, olives, crumbled feta cheese, a couple splashes of red wine (optional) and simmer for 8-10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper
  4. In a bowl, pour sauce over the cooked pasta, add shredded chicken, lightly toss and mix well.
  5. Transfer the pasta into a serving dish, sprinkle parmesan cheese, garnish with basil leaves and serve immediately. Enjoy!!!


  1. You can use readymade / commercial pesto available in the market.
  2. You can substitute pine nuts with cashew nuts or walnuts.
  3. Add boiled vegetables of your choice to the pasta to make a wholesome meal.

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Last 5 posts by Malini


  1. Khushi

    Delicious! Thank you. My kids love pasta and red pesto is innovative. I woke up in the morning and logged in, and it was so nice to see you here.

  2. Tana

    Hi Malini,
    Thank you, this looks great! Recently I was found to be allergic to gluten (present in wheat) and I’ve been eating quinoa pastas (from the company Ancient Harvest). These are delicious, and I look forward to trying out your recipe!

  3. Dora

    Malini, very nice recipe. I will try it. I have never thought of using cashew nuts for pasta, but why not? You know, you can add peanut paste (just peanuts mashed thoroughly) and soy sauce (just a little) to make a quick sauce for pasta or noodles which tastes like Thai peanut satay. Usually kids like it.

  4. Meenakshi

    What can I use, if I didn’t have pesto sauce?

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