This one-pot quick and easy pesto chicken pasta bake is filled with delicious Mediterranean flavours everyone loves. This rich tasting dish is incredibly easy to put together and perfect for sharing with friends and family.
This easy pesto chicken pasta bake is a one-pot dish perfect as a weeknight dinner idea, fuss-free and quick despite being made from scratch. Ok, I bought the pasta but the pesto did not come from a jar, in case you are wondering. Pesto is super easy to make and SO much better than the readymade stuff!
Except that I didn’t actually make any pesto for this recipe. Let me explain.
How to make quick and easy pesto marinade
What I did was assemble all the pesto ingredients and make the sauce using only the basil, oil and garlic. This became the marinade for the chicken (try to leave the chicken in the marinade for at least 30 minutes if you can). I didn’t puree the pine nuts in order to give this dish a bit of crunch. So they got sprinkled over the casserole.
I also decided to sprinkle some of the parmesan over the pasta and some over the chicken in order to distribute the flavour throughout the dish.
Can I marinate the chicken ahead
Yes you can! Make the 3-ingredient marinade, pour over the chicken, season and stir. Refrigerate the chicken in an air tight container overnight and use the next day. All you’ll have to do is briefly precook the orzo, place the chicken on top and bake (see Instructions for full details).
One pot pesto chicken pasta bake recipe
One huge advantage of making a one-pot dish is that all the flavours cook together. The pesto ingredients together with the juices from the chicken created gorgeous tasting pasta, which just wouldn’t be the same if they were cooked separately.
To make this easy pasta bake start by making the quick pesto marinade, then combine it with the chicken and set aside for about 30 minutes (if possible). While the chicken is marinating you can get on with preparing the pasta.
Combine the pasta with hot water (it will come to the boil faster), cover, bring to the boil, then simmer for 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and transfer the entire mixture into your casserole dish. Sprinkle with a little parmesan and some pine nuts. Place the chicken with any leftover pesto marinade over the top and scatter over the pine nuts and the rest of the parmesan. Bake for 25 minutes.
Cooking times may vary depending on the size of your chicken pieces, so ensure the meat is fully cooked before serving. Having said that it is also important not to overcook the chicken as it may be a little dry.
What pasta to use in this recipe
I recommend using orzo pasta in this pesto chicken recipe. It cooks very quickly and doesn’t take up too much space in the casserole dish, so the chicken can cover it completely. That way the pasta won’t lose any moisture.
This easy pesto chicken pasta bake is delicious with steamed vegetables, such as broccoli or broccolini (which cooks in 2 minutes!), or grilled asparagus. Other vegetables would work too so simply enjoy this dish with your favourite one.
More easy pesto pasta recipes
Check out also this collection of 13 healthy, easy one pot chicken recipes!
You may also like this collection of over 12 easy vegetarian pasta meals.
Easy Pesto Chicken Pasta Bake (Healthy)
- 500 g skinless chicken breast
- 250 g orzo pasta uncooked
- 30 g basil leaves only
- 1 garlic clove, chopped
- 25 g lightly roasted pine nuts
- 30 g parmesan grated
- 50 ml olive oil
- 380 ml hot water
- Sea salt and pepper to taste
- Puree the basil, garlic and oil. Set aside.
- Cut the chicken lengthwise into thick strips (4-5 each), season, pour over the basil mixture, stir and let marinate for at least 30 minutes (if possible).
- Preheat the oven to 375 F/ 190 C/ gas mark 5.
- In a saucepan combine the pasta with the hot water, season, cover and bring to boil, then simmer for 3 minutes. Carefully transfer the entire mixture into a medium size casserole dish (6-7 cm deep).
- Scatter 3 quarters of the parmesan and the pine nuts over the pasta. Place the chicken strips on top (along with any remaining basil mixture), scatter the remaining parmesan and pine nuts and bake for 25 minutes. Halfway through cooking stir the mixture gently (by poking around the chicken pieces with a spatula so the chicken still stays on top) ensuring the pasta does not stick to the bottom.
- Remove from the oven and serve immediately (ensure the meat is fully cooked) with vegetables or salad.
Don’t forget to pin this healthy Easy Pesto Chicken Pasta Bake!
KEEP IN TOUCH!
RECIPE LINK PARTIES
I am bringing this healthy pesto chicken pasta casserole recipe to #CookBlogShare, which I have the pleasure of hosting this week. If you’ve got a recipe why not link it up too! Also sharing with Recipe of the Week, and Fiesta Friday. This week’s co-hosts are Mollie @ The Frugal Hausfrau and Petra @ Food Eat Love.