This pesto pasta recipe with balsamic marinated chicken, quick-roasted tomatoes, and spinach is loaded with flavor for a fast and easy dinner all year-round.
If you peeked into my fridge, you’d find a jar of homemade pesto no matter what time of year. Basil pesto is the best all-in-one flavor-builder and ideal for adding high-key taste with minimal effort to so many dishes like pesto chicken, pesto pasta, and arugula salad with pesto shrimp, Parmesan, and white beans. I mostly make my homemade pesto when my garden is overflowing with basil, and freeze it in ice cube trays for quick and easy meals on the fly. When I’m out of homemade, I turn to my pantry where I always keep a jar of good-quality store-bought variety. It’s a staple I always have on hand. That’s why this pesto pasta with balsamic chicken, roasted cherry tomatoes, and spinach is a recipe I make year-round. It’s SO delicious and a quick and easy complete meal in a bowl.
What’s in This Pesto Pasta
- Boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- Balsamic vinegar
- Olive oil
- Brown sugar (or honey)
- Soy sauce
- Cherry tomatoes
- Orecchiette pasta or other short pasta
- Kosher salt
- Pesto—My easy homemade pesto is so creamy, bright, balanced, and full of flavor. Or, use a good-quality store brand.
- Parmesan cheese
Tip: To add a bit of heat, sprinkle in some red pepper flakes.
How to Make Pesto Pasta
This pesto pasta recipe is easy to make. While one step is cooking move on to the next (for example, roast the tomatoes while the chicken marinates). Here’s how to make it:
Marinate the balsamic chicken. Trim the chicken of any extra fat, cut into chunks, and place in a zip lock bag or shallow bowl. Whisk balsamic vinegar, olive oil, brown sugar, and soy sauce together in a bowl. Pour the marinade over the chicken and refrigerate for an hour or up to overnight.
Roast the tomatoes. Toss the tomatoes with olive oil and salt and roast at 400°F. for 15-20 minutes so they blister slightly and burst open.
If using homemade, make the pesto. When I have fresh basil, I LOVE my easy, tried and true basil pesto recipe. It makes the perfect amount for this recipe. Or, choose a good-quality store-bought brand.
Cook the Balsamic Chicken
Heat a skillet over medium heat and drizzle with olive oil. Add the chicken and cook, turning every few minutes, until the chicken browns on all sides and is cooked through, about 10-15 minutes.
Cook and assemble the pasta. Cook the orecchiette until al dente. Drain and add the hot pasta to the skillet with the chicken. Toss, then stir in the pesto, roasted tomatoes, and spinach. Stir well (the heat from the pasta will wilt the spinach). Top with freshly grated Parmesan and more fresh basil before serving.
Do You Add Pesto to Hot or Cold Pasta
I like eating this pasta warm, but it’s also great at room temp. However you eat it, it’s important to add the pesto to the pasta once it’s still hot, right after cooking. The heat helps the pesto incorporate better into the pasta, melts those little bits of Parmesan in there, and coats everything nicely.
What to Serve with This Pesto Pasta
- The Best Garlic Bread
- Caesar Salad with Garlic Croutons
- Arugula Salad with Shaved Parmesan
- The Best Kale Salad with Parmesan and Pine Nuts
If you make this recipe, please let me know! Leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating on this recipe below and leave a comment, take a photo and tag me on Instagram with #foodiecrusheats.
Pesto Pasta with Balsamic Chicken
For the pasta:
- 1 ½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts , about 2 breasts
- ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
- 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil , divided
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar (light or dark)
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce
- 1 ½ pounds cherry tomatoes
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 pound orecchiette pasta , dry
- 1 ¼ cups basil pesto
- 2-3 cups spinach
- Parmesan cheese , for serving
- fresh basil leaves , for serving
- Marinate the chicken. Trim the chicken of any extra fat, cut into chunks, and place it in a gallon freezer bag or shallow bowl. Whisk the balsamic vinegar, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, brown sugar, and soy sauce in a bowl. Pour the marinade over the chicken and refrigerate for an hour or up to overnight.
- Roast the tomatoes. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a rimmed sheet pan with aluminum foil. Add the tomatoes, ¼ cup (4 tablespoons) of olive oil, and ½ teaspoon of salt to the pan. Toss the tomatoes to evenly coat them in the oil and salt. Roast for 15-20 minutes.
- Cook the chicken. Heat a skillet over medium heat and drizzle with olive oil. Add the chicken and cook, turning every few minutes, until the chicken is browned and reaches an internal temperature of 160°F, about 10-15 minutes.
- While the chicken cooks, bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta according to package instructions until al dente. Drain and add the hot pasta to the skillet with the chicken. Toss with the pesto, roasted tomatoes, and spinach. Top with freshly grated Parmesan and fresh basil before serving.
More Pesto Paste Recipes to Try
- Homemade Pesto Pasta
- Linguine with Broccolini and Walnut Pesto
- Pesto Pasta Salad with Bell Peppers and Peas
- Pasta with Kale Pesto and Roasted Acorn Squash
- Pasta with Tomato Pesto and Garlicky Breadcrumbs
- Creamy Avocado Pesto Pasta Salad with Roasted Vegetables
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