pesto pasta salad with grilled chicken

Pesto Pasta Salad with Grilled Chicken

  • Author: Chew Out Loud
  • Prep Time: 35 mins
  • Total Time: 35 mins
  • Yield: 8 1x
  • Category: side dish, salad
  • Cuisine: Italian


This Pesto Pasta Salad with Grilled Chicken is healthy, satisfying, and 200% delicious. It’ll take center stage at any picnic, potluck, dinner table, or the lunch table if you’re lucky enough to have leftovers…YUM!



  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, towel dried and pounded to even thickness
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 lb dried pasta (fusilli, rotini, shells, etc. all work well)
  • 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2/3 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup toasted pine nuts (or toasted pecans)
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 12 oz cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 3 cups baby arugula


  1. Sprinkle a light layer of kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper over both sides of towel-dried chicken breasts. Grill over medium high heat either on a well-greased indoor grill pan or outdoor grill, about 4-6 min per side depending on thickness. Remove from heat and set aside.
  2. Bring a large, heavy pot of salted water to boil. Cook pasta until tender, according to package instructions. Drain and rinse with cool water; drain again but leave pasta slightly wet (helps with loosening the pest sauce when tossed.)
  3. While waiting for water to boil and pasta to cook, make the pesto. In a food processor or very powerful blender, add the olive oil, basil, nuts, parmesan, lemon juice, garlic, 1 1/4 tsp kosher salt, and 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper. Process until smooth and creamy.
  4. If needed, rinse cooked pasta again to loosen. Combine pasta with pesto sauce, tossing to combine well. Slice grilled chicken and add to pasta. Add tomatoes and arugula just before serving. If needed, add kosher salt and black pepper to taste. Sprinkle with additional parmesan for garnish. Serve.


If you have leftovers, add a bit of warm water or olive oil (or excess pesto sauce) to loosen and refresh pasta. Add arugula just before eating.