Creamy Pesto Chicken Pasta ~ Easy Dinner with Rigatoni, Chicken and Creamy White Sauce with Pesto! Dinner Recipe That’s on the Table in Less Than 40 Minutes.
As much as I try to live in the moment and appreciate the here and now I have to admit I’m sort of sick of summer. It happens every year around this time when North Carolina dishes up oppressive doses of heat and humidity starting bright and early each day. The hum of air conditioning provides the soundtrack for what is best described as the dog days of summer. That’s where we are now and I’m squinting into the bright sun for hints of fall and cooler weather. I’m not one to wish my life away, but I wouldn’t complain if we just skip over August and go straight to September.
And so it’s with a little wishful thinking that I’m sharing this creamy pesto chicken pasta today. I think of it as a transition supper – it has brightness from summer pesto and an easy green salad on the side that lightens things up, but at its core it’s a creamy pasta dish that hints at a change of season. One, I might remind you, that is not that far off. For many, next month kicks off back-to-school and before we know it we’ll be wearing layers and watching football.
This summer/fall transitional dinner starts with thin-sliced chicken that cooks quickly in a pan. From there, the sauce comes together (taking advantage of all the flavor left behind by the chicken)in less than ten minutes. The sauce is spiked with pesto, which adds a pop of summer fresh basil flavor. Oh, and a quick note about the pesto – I used a good quality store-bought pesto, which makes this a low-prep fast-cook dinner, but feel free to substitute your favorite homemade pesto if you have some on hand. Add in cooked rigatoni and the chicken and you get a creamy pasta dinner that is on the table in less than 40 minutes.
I didn’t include the side salad in the recipe card below because it’s so easy you don’t need a lot of direction. I just tossed some baby arugula in a simple olive oil and lemon dressing seasoned with a little salt, added some tomato wedges, and sprinkled some grated Parmesan over the top. It’s the easiest salad ever and it balances out the richness of the chicken pasta and brings some summer vibes to the plate.
So, if you’re like me and ready for fall or a summer hold-out enjoying everything these long days have to offer this creamy pesto chicken pasta works for all of us. It’s a little summer and a little fall giving us the best of both seasons.
Creamy Pesto Chicken Pasta
- 8 ounces rigatoni
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 pound thin sliced chicken breasts seasoned with salt and pepper
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1 1/2 cups 2% milk
- 1/4 cup pesto
- 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese divided
- Bring a pot of water to a boil. Cook the pasta according to package directions.
- Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large pan. Cook the chicken for a few minutes on each side until cooked through. Remove from the pan. Add a few tablespoons of water to the pan and scrape up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Melt the butter in the pan, add the flour and stir until a paste forms. Cook the pasta for a couple minutes before slowly adding the milk, whisking continuously. Cook the sauce until it starts to thicken (about five minutes).
- Add the pesto to the thickened sauce and stir to combine. Turn off the heat and add the 1/4 cup of the cheese and stir until melted. Add the cooked pasta and stir to coat it in the sauce. Slice the chicken into bite-sized pieces and add to the pasta and sauce. Stir to combine and top the pasta and chicken with 1/2 cup of cheese. Turn on the broiler and place the pan in the oven. Broil until the cheese has melted on top.
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