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.

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

Comments are welcomed. Thanks!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on July 05, 2015:

Hi thumbi7,

Nice that you now know how to make your own pesto. It is so easy to make different versions of pasta dishes depending what one has on hand or what a family's food preferences might happen to be. Glad you liked reading this and thanks for the share.

JR Krishna from India on July 04, 2015:

I also prepare a slightly different version for my children. Chicken is not cut in cubes in my recipe. I boil chicken breasts and scramble into thin pieces.

I didn't know how to prepare pesto

Thanks for this recipe

Voted up and shared

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 09, 2015:

Hi Patricia,

Sorry if reading about this recipe and seeing the photos made you hungry. Perhaps by now you or your daughter have tried this recipe? It is really tasty and flavorful. Appreciate the shares.

Hope that this is a wonderful day for you with many blessings!

Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on April 07, 2015:

One thing my family likes is food with lots of flavor and texture. And this fits the bill perfectly. I am pinning this to Awesome HubPages , sharing, and voting up.

I am also sending my daughter to my Pinterest board to see this.

I am starving, now!!!

Angels are on the way to you this afternoon ps

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on January 09, 2015:

Hi Au fait,

I agree that it would be fun to meet fellow hubbers in our areas. Thanks for the share and stay warm in your part of Texas. It is certainly cold in Houston right now! Brr!

C E Clark from North Texas on January 07, 2015:

I've been reading food articles for a while now as I respond to comments and I'm getting pretty hungry. This looks especially good.

You know, it might be fun for hubbers to plan some potluck get togethers in various regions of the country so we can meet the people behind the photos/names. Everyone could make up a couple of their recipes and bring it to the potluck! Hubbers could attend the potluck in their region, or all of them if so inclined.

Going to share this delicious looking recipe with followers. We are going to get down to 17 F. tonight with 25 mph winds. I've been dreading tonight for several days now. Hope you will be in a nice warm place!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on August 26, 2013:

Hello lurii,

I have never used ketchup in pasta sauces but I do use tomatoes and tomato sauces...so it is probably a bit similar. Ketchup is a bit sweeter however. Glad you liked the sound of this recipe even with no ketchup. :)

Iurii on August 25, 2013:

yummy!! this looks so good! and yes, it is very japanese. i guess here in the sattes they don't normally use ketchup in pasta sauce ~ they should though right?! have a great week-end my friend & thanks for sharing this ;)xo ~ kristina

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on July 16, 2013:

Glad you liked this Au fait. Thanks for the pin.

C E Clark from North Texas on July 15, 2013:

Stopped in to pin this yummy dish to my "Soups, Salads, & Casseroles" board! :)

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 16, 2013:

Hi Always Optimist,

This is really a pretty simple dish to prepare especially if one has the pesto already made or purchased. I'll bet that your cousin would be happy to give you a few cooking lessons if you are interested in learning how to cook. I guess that I was lucky. I learned much of what I know by watching and then helping my mother in the kitchen. Thanks for your 5 star rating and votes + comment.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 15, 2013:

Hi Suzanne,

This really is a delicious and simple to prepare meal. Hope you enjoy it. Thanks for your comment and votes.

Always Optimist from India on May 15, 2013:

This looks a very good recipe. Even though my cousin is very good cook but I can not cook to save my life but I do like eating. I am going to vote it up, 5 stars and awesome.

justmesuzanne from Texas on May 14, 2013:

Looks fabulous! Must try! Voted up and awesome! :)

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 14, 2013:

Hi Bishop55,

I need to make it again sometime soon as well. It truly is a delicious pasta meal. Thanks for your comment.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 14, 2013:

Hi Indian Chef,

So glad that I shared just how easy it is to make pesto since you cannot find it in your markets. Happy that you found this pasta recipe to your liking. Appreciate the 5 star rating and the share.

Rebecca from USA on May 14, 2013:

I can't wait to try this!

Indian Chef from New Delhi India on May 14, 2013:

I really loved the way you demonstrated how to make pesto at home as we do not get this in market here. Also loved the way you made pasta. Voted 5 stars and shared

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 25, 2013:

Hi moonlake,

We really like this recipe and obviously it can be easily altered to suit one's taste or depending upon which vegetables you might have on hand to substitute which would be an easy thing to do. I just planted some yellow crook neck squash in the garden so if it is a successful crop I would switch it in place of the zucchini in this recipe. I am also growing an assortment of different kinds of peppers this year. Thanks for the pin!

moonlake from America on April 23, 2013:

Hi Peggy have to pin this so I can add it into my recipes I like.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on March 23, 2013:

Hi beingwell,

Eggplant, especially the Chinese eggplants...the long skinny ones...would be good in this. We love eating eggplant! Had some just last night as a matter of fact. Thanks for your comment and the share. Enjoy this delicious pasta meal with the pesto seasonings. :)

beingwell from Bangkok on March 23, 2013:

Nice recipe! I'm doing this one. Will add eggplants, too. Yuuummm!!! Thanks peggy! Shared!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on February 12, 2013:

Hi RTalloni,

Am sure you can substitute something different for the cheese. Not quite sure what would be similar to Parmesan Regianno in taste and texture that does not come from cows...but a cheese monger should be able to advise you. Of course you could always use a different type of dressing in place of the pesto. Good luck. Let me know what you came up with if you decide to make this recipe. Am sure others would be interested as well. Thanks!

RTalloni on February 12, 2013:

This recipe looks wonderful and I can try it if I change out the cow's milk cheese. Thanks!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on February 12, 2013:

Hello girishpuri,

Nice to know that you like the sound and appearance of this pasta entree recipe. Thanks for your comment.

Girish puri from NCR , INDIA on February 11, 2013:

This looks so tasty, i just can't resist, nice recipe, thanks

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on January 10, 2013:

Hi Eddy,

Nice to know that you will be trying this recipe. Please do report back how you liked it. Thanks! :)

Eiddwen from Wales on January 10, 2013:

Mmm oh yes another for my ever-expanding rcipe book .

Thanks for sharing and I shall let you know how I get on.


Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on December 16, 2012:

Hi Au fait,

I also like eating leftover pasta meals...so you are not alone in that liking. Nice to know that you like the sound of this recipe. Thanks for the votes, 5 star rating and the share. Appreciate it! :)

C E Clark from North Texas on December 16, 2012:

This looks really yummy and I haven't had any breakfast yet. I often like leftover pasta casseroles for breakfast heated or cold and I've been that way since I was a kid. I love that it includes so many vegetables which are my favorite foods.

Voted you up, UA, gave you a star, and will share!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on November 02, 2012:

Hello pstraubie48,

If only I could...this chicken and vegetable pasta with the pesto would be on its way to you. As it is...you will just have to make it for yourself one of these days. :) Thanks for your comment and the share.

Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on November 02, 2012:


My mouth is watering. I have not had dinner. This looks like something I would love a bowl of right now. Can you send me some quickly?? I am bookmarking and sharing. Fabulous.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on October 03, 2012:

Hi kashmir56,

If you like quick and easy pasta dishes, you are sure to like this one with the chicken, vegetables and pesto. Enjoy! Thanks for your comment, vote + share.

Thomas Silvia from Massachusetts on October 03, 2012:

WOW this is such a awesome recipe and so easy to prepare, I love pasta dishes so i will give this a try ! Well Done !

Vote up and more !!! SHARING !

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on September 04, 2012:

Hi Carol,

Happy to hear that you will be enjoying this pasta entree with the chicken and pesto. Any kind of pesto would be good but we enjoyed the slightly different taste of the cilantro and parsley. Appreciate your comment.

carol stanley from Arizona on September 03, 2012:

Sounds really good to me.. Will put this in my arsenal of great new recipes. Thanks for sharing and a vote UP.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on August 21, 2012:

Hi alocsin,

The pesto still has a bit of a crunch because of the other nuts utilized, but a few extra pine nuts would be a nice addition to this Penne pasta meal. Certainly couldn't hurt! Traditional pesto has pine nuts combined into it. Thanks for your comment and votes.

Aurelio Locsin from Orange County, CA on August 21, 2012:

I can't believe I missed this when it first came out, since it contains two of my favorite foods: penne and pesto. As usual, the pictures add so much to the instructions. I'd like to suggest a few pine nuts for some crunch. Voting this Up and Useful.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on July 19, 2012:

Hi Brett,

Hope you can find the ingredients. This pasta dish is so simple to make and really tasty. Of course other types of pesto could be substituted if you can't find the cilantro. Good luck! Thanks for your comment, votes and the share.

Brett C from Asia on July 19, 2012:

Looks delicious, only wish that I had come across it earlier in the day ... guess it will be a takeaway option for me tonight. I love pasta dishes, so if I can find the ingredients over here, I may give this a go.

Up, useful and sharing.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on July 08, 2012:

Hi vespawoolf,

Your idea of using whole wheat pasta would make this dish even more wholesome. We often use it and I like the flavor. Having the homemade pesto frozen and ready to use in different dishes does make it convenient. The cilantro gave it a different but delicious flavor twist. Thanks for your comment.

Vespa Woolf from Peru, South America on July 08, 2012:

This sounds so delicious, and I like the idea of freezing the ingredients ahead of time. I haven't made pesto in ages and your use of cilantro would be both yummy and nutritious. I plan to try this with whole wheat pasta. Thanks so much!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on June 28, 2012:

Hi Just Ask Susan,

It not only looks good...it IS GOOD! :)) Thanks for your comment on this penne pasta entree.

Susan Zutautas from Ontario, Canada on June 28, 2012:

Wow this look so good!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on June 24, 2012:

Hi teaches12345,

I also liked that storage tip from Giada and will have to try it the next time I make some homemade pesto. Glad to hear you liked this page design as well as the recipe. Thanks for your comment.

Dianna Mendez on June 23, 2012:

You have a great recipe page design and it is quite interesting. I think the ice cube pesto idea is worthwhile and will save time. Love the pasta suggestions.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on June 23, 2012:

Hi Cheryl,

Pasta meals using fresh ingredients such as this recipe are really easy to assemble and are often palette pleasers. Glad that you liked the pesto recipe. We were together when I bought that large bag of cilantro. Remember? :) After using a bunch of it fresh, I had to do something with the rest of it before much of it would have ended up going on the compost pile. We liked my use of it in this pesto. Thanks for your comment.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on June 23, 2012:

Hi alocsin,

Glad to be able to share this recipe with you and others. Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment and place some votes. Enjoy this recipe in good health!

Cheryl J. from Houston, TX on June 23, 2012:

Another delicious recipe. I will make this healthy, quick and easy recipe soon. You have given easy instructions to follow when one makes the Pesto. Beautiful photos. Another great hub.

Aurelio Locsin from Orange County, CA on June 22, 2012:

This has all my favorite ingredients, including penne pasta. Sounds delicious. Voting this Up and Useful.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on June 22, 2012:

Hello Om,

I know what you mean. Looking at all of these food hubs with the current HP contest can make one hungry regardless of one's last meal. Hope to hear that you did enjoy this recipe when you get around to trying it. Thanks for your comment. :)

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on June 22, 2012:

Hello whonunuwho,

This pasta dish can certainly be deemed healthy with the array of vegetables and the pesto "dressing." With or without the low fat chicken, hope you enjoy it when you first decide to follow this recipe. Thanks for your comment.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on June 22, 2012:

Hi ChristyWrites,

Glad that this Chicken and Penne Pasta Entree with fresh vegetables and pesto will be landing on your dinner table in the near future. It is so easy and obviously the vegetables can be varied according to what you readily have on hand as well as the pesto recipe being altered to taste or other ingredients that you also have. Have fun experimenting with this recipe or use it just as it is written. Thanks for your comment.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on June 22, 2012:

Hello North Wind,

If you have never tasted pesto, you are in for a flavor treat! You will have to try some soon...the traditional one or a variation. The fresh herbs and other ingredients add so much flavor to a dish! Thanks for your visit and comment.

Om Paramapoonya on June 22, 2012:

This pasta recipe sounds really awesome, Peggy. Your photos have made me quite hungry even though I just ate! I guess I'll have to try this recipe soon :)

whonunuwho from United States on June 22, 2012:

This sounds very delicious. I really enjoy chicken and pasta dishes and appreciate the healthy cuisine.

Christy Birmingham from British Columbia, Canada on June 22, 2012:

The Pesto part of this hub alone makes it worth the vote up! Oh, the challenge of deciding what to have for dinner - you provide one great answer here!

North Wind from The World (for now) on June 22, 2012:

Hi Peggy W,

Actually, I do not know if I like pesto having never tasted it. Since I absolutely love all types of pasta, I am weary about what I put on it because I always want to make certain that I will thoroughly enjoy my pasta dish..... but your pictures look soooooo good I do not think I will be disappointed!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on June 22, 2012:

Hi Billy,

It is delicious...perhaps even better than it looks! Are you ready to try your hand at cooking this? :) Appreciate your comment.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on June 22, 2012:

Hi Mary,

Carbo loading approaching midnight is probably not the best thing unless you are running a marathon at 3 o'clock in the morning. Haha! Glad that you liked the sound of this recipe. Thanks for your comment, vote and the share.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on June 22, 2012:

Hi Debbie,

Enjoy this easy to make pasta entree. It is delicious and nutritious. Appreciate your comment.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on June 22, 2012:

Well, if it tastes half as good as it looks then this is delicious.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on June 21, 2012:

Hi Kelley,

Thanks for the 5 star rating on this recipe using chicken, pasta, fresh vegetables and pesto. It really is a palate pleaser!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on June 21, 2012:

Hi Angela,

So kind of you to be sharing this recipe with your friends and followers. As to authoring a cookbook, I never gave it much thought. Will keep publishing recipes here and if the feedback is as good as yours, I might consider it in the future. In the interim...keep reading! Thanks!

Mary Hyatt from Florida on June 21, 2012:

I know better than to read your recipes at night! It's 11:15, and I want to cook up some pasta! This looks so good, I could eat a big serving right now. I do love pasta in any shape or form. Great Hub. I voted it up, and will share!

Deborah Brooks Langford from Brownsville,TX on June 21, 2012:

OK Now I know what I am making for dinner tomorrow night.. this looks wonderful.. I .love pasta.. thank you so much for sharing..



kelleyward on June 21, 2012:

Oh Peggy this looks so delicious! Gave it 5 stars. The pictures are amazing. Yum! Kelley

Angela Brummer from Lincoln, Nebraska on June 21, 2012:

When is you cook book coming out? I love this. I will share this on twitter, with hub followers, facebook and google+.

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