This 15-minute one pot meal is my kids' favorite!!! The 4-Ingredient Spring Pesto Pasta is a fast and healthy easy dinner recipe that's bursting with fresh flavor!
This is one of those dinners -- you know the kind -- they're the meals that we pull together at the last minute because we need something easy and fast that the whole family will actually EAT?!
Even though it has been the #1 most-requested, most-served, and most-praised dinner in our house over the past 6 years (ever since Gibbs could eat solid foods!), I haven't shared the best pesto pasta recipe on here because it's hardly a recipe at all!
Ingredients for Making Pesto Pasta:
- Pasta: I choose wagon wheels because kids love them but any short pasta will do
- Peas: frozen, thawed
- Pesto: any jarred (or homemade) pesto sauce will work! My kids prefer the original Classico pesto pasta sauce (which I find in the grocery store next to the other marinara pasta sauces), but you can make your own or choose your family's favorite.
- Cooked chicken: this is great for using up leftovers, but you can also use a store-bought rotisserie chicken or precooked chicken such as Perdue Shortcuts or Tyson Grilled n' Ready meat.
How to Make Pesto Pasta in 15 Minutes:
- First, cook the pasta in salted boiling water according to packet instructions.
- Meanwhile, make sure to thaw the frozen peas and dice the cooked chicken.
- Once the pasta is cooked, add the peas, chicken, and pesto. Give it all a good toss to combine!
Is pesto sauce healthy?
Pesto is made with basil, olive oil, pine nuts, garlic and Parmesan cheese. While the olive oil, cheese and nuts are high in calories, this sauce is made with natural, real ingredients, doesn't include added sugars or chemicals, and contributes a number of health benefits. The healthy fats add satiating flavor to pasta or meats. Plus, just a little bit of pesto sauce gives your dish a ton of flavor!
Which pasta is good with pesto sauce?
I've used Wagon Wheel (or "Rotelle") pasta here, but you can substitute with any similar short pasta. I like pesto penne pasta, rotini pasta and elbow macaroni as well!
What meat goes with pesto pasta?
This is a pesto pasta chicken recipe, but you can substitute with other protein options. We love pesto pasta with tuna and pesto pasta with shrimp, too!
Make this Pesto Pasta Vegetarian!
For a vegetarian dish, omit the chicken and add any of your family's favorite vegetables instead. Good options include cooked broccoli, additional peas, and sautéed zucchini, squash, or bell peppers.
How many cups of pesto per one pound of pasta?
I've included a specific amount of pesto and pasta in this recipe, but it's really just a matter of taste. You can add more (or less) pesto depending on your family's preference.
A typical ratio is ¾ cup of pesto per 1 pound of pasta. You can always add a bit of the pasta cooking water to thin the sauce, as necessary, too. If you're adding other ingredients to your pasta (such as the chicken and the peas), you may need more pesto sauce to fully coat the dish.
Can you eat pesto pasta cold?
Absolutely! This dish is delicious warm, at room temperature, or chilled!
Can pesto pasta be frozen?
Pesto sauce freezes very well on its own. If you have leftover pasta that's dressed in the pesto sauce, you can also freeze that pasta; however, the texture may be slightly mushy when it's thawed. It will still be edible -- just not quite as good as the original!
Can pesto pasta be reheated?
Yes! I often just reheat the kids' leftovers in the microwave for their lunch the next day. A bowl of pasta should only require about 1 minute in the microwave.
What to serve with Pesto Pasta:
This one pot meal has protein, carbs, fat and veggies, so you really don't need anything more. That said, here are some easy options if you want to offer a side dish:
- A simple green salad tossed with Italian Balsamic Vinaigrette
- 3-Ingredient Breadsticks
- Garlic Roasted Broccoli
Other easy pesto pasta recipes that you might enjoy:
- Turkey and Pesto Slow Cooker Lasagna
- Dump-and-Bake Chicken Pesto Pasta
- Pesto Zucchini Lasagna Roll-Ups
4-Ingredient Spring Pesto Pasta
- 2 cups (4 ounces) uncooked wagon wheel pasta (can substitute with other small pasta, such as penne)
- ½ cup frozen peas thawed
- ⅓ cup prepared pesto sauce (or more or less pesto sauce, to taste)
- 1 cup diced cooked chicken (such as leftover chicken or rotisserie chicken)
- Boil pasta according to package instructions. Stir in peas, pesto, and chicken until completely combined. Serve immediately.