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Chicken and Fresh Vegetable Penne Pasta With Cilantro Parsley Pesto

My husband is a wonderful cook. We share the kitchen and we each have our specialties. He often does the cooking for our dinner parties.

Chicken and fresh vegetable penne pasta entree with pesto

Chicken and fresh vegetable penne pasta entree with pesto

Cook Time (Including the Homemade Pesto)

Prep timeCook timeReady inYields

30 min

30 min

1 hour

Serves 8 or more people depending upon appetite.

Ingredients: Pasta (Pesto Recipe Below)

  • 1 package penne pasta, cooked al dente
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 8 mini peppers, slivered
  • 2 medium zucchini, sliced in half then cut into pieces...half moon shaped
  • 4 small raw chicken fillets, cubed
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 8 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • Parmesan Reggiano cheese, to taste
  • Garlic powder or fresh minced, to taste
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Hot pepper flakes (optional), to taste
  • 3 tablespoons prepared pesto, or to taste

Instructions: Pasta

  1. Cook your pasta according to package directions keeping it al dente, or slightly undercooked as it will finish cooking in the pan with the rest of the ingredients. Al dente means "to the tooth," which means it is still a bit firm. Drain the pasta. saving some of the pasta water for later use, if needed.
  2. Slice your vegetables according to directions.
  3. Wash and pat dry your chicken fillets and cut into cubes.
  4. Start by adding the extra virgin olive oil into the pan, and when heated, add your sliced onions.
  5. After 1-2 minutes of stirring, add the sliced peppers, followed by the zucchini and mushrooms.
  6. Season to taste and cook until the vegetables have wilted and softened but still retain some of their bright colors.
  7. Remove the vegetables from the pan and set aside.
  8. Add the diced chicken into the same pan, adding a bit more of the oil if needed and sauté until just done. Season at this stage also.
  9. Add the vegetables back into the pan with the chicken and stir.
  10. Add the cooked pasta and some of the Parmesan cheese. Stir and taste. Adjust seasonings. If the pasta dish needs more moisture, add some reserved pasta water into the pan a little at a time and combine with all of the ingredients.
  11. Add a few dollops of the fresh pesto. I probably used about three tablespoons or so. Use according to your preference.
  12. When this is nicely mixed and to your liking, serve on heated plates and garnish with a little extra Parmesan Reggiano cheese over the top, if desired. Enjoy!

Cilantro Parsley Pesto

I made the pesto and the pasta dish at the same time, but this pesto recipe could easily be made up ahead of time. Pesto can be created from many different ingredients. Most often basil is used along with EVOO, garlic, Parmesan Reggiano cheese, pine nuts or other nuts and seasonings.


  • 2 large bunches of cilantro
  • 1 large bunch of parsley
  • 3 cloves peeled garlic
  • 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2/3 cup pecans
  • 1/3 cup Parmesan Reggiano cheese
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes for some extra spiciness and flavor


  1. Fill a Cuisinart mixing bowl with all of the ingredients listed above. (At first, all the fresh herbs did not fit into the bowl, so I just processed it a bit and kept adding more, as can be seen in the photos below.
  2. Give it all a whirl in the food processor, and freshly made pesto was the result.

If you do not have the time or inclination to make your homemade pesto, purchase some ready-made pesto at the grocery store. The flavor will be different but equally enjoyable.

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Read More From Delishably

Another Easy Pesto Recipe

What's for Supper Tonight?

Deciding what to eat each day is a question and concern for most of us. A bit of forethought must go into the planning, especially if thawing things from one's freezer and wishing to utilize that ingredient later in the day.

Even if stopping by a grocery store on the way home to pick up last-minute items, a plan for using them is advisable. Otherwise, if tired and hungry after a day's work, one is more likely to be tempted to grab a quick meal at the drive-through fast-food establishment or go out to eat.

As we all know this is probably not the greatest of options for two reasons. Less nutritious and higher calorie food is often served at the fast-food emporiums with a few exceptions. And frequent dining out at restaurants takes a toll on our monthly budgets.

This recipe is an easy to prepare dinner option that does not take long to prepare and is delicious, nutritious, and easy on the budget. This chicken pasta entrée with loads of fresh vegetables paired with a leafy green salad will be sure to please your family members and/or friends that may be stopping by to join you for your nightly meal.

Note: This can easily be made into a vegetarian dish by simply omitting the chicken.

Doesn't this pasta look good?

Doesn't this pasta look good?

© 2012 Peggy Woods

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