Chicken Pesto – 30 Minutes Or Less

Mar 4, 2019 | Chicken and Poultry, Pasta, Quick Meals, Recipes

For this week’s 30 minutes or less post I made chicken pesto and garden salad with homemade French dressing. This is a really delicious meal that I would be happy to eat any day of the week.

Recipe Notes

As usual, the meal I prepared would be enough to feed a family of four, with two exceptions. I didn’t cook enough pasta for a family of four because it’s just my wife and I and there’s no point wasting it. Same with the chicken. I only used one large chicken breast. For four people I would use two chicken breasts.

I should also say that to make the pesto I used an immersion blender. You can use a regular blender, a food processor, or a mortar and pestle, though that may add some preparation time.

One final note before we jump into this. Chopping the vegetables for the salad can be time consuming, especially if you’re nervous with a knife. To get around this, and speed things up feel free to use the slicer attachment on a food processor. Things won’t look as nice but they will taste just as delicious.

Okay, without further ado, this is…

Chicken Pesto in 30 Minutes or Less

4:51 pm

At 4:51 I put a pot of salted water on the stove for the pasta, turned in on high and started chopping 1 cup of basil leaves for the pesto.

Because I was using an immersion blender to make my pesto I had to chop the basil first to prevent it from jamming the blades. If you are using a food processor or blender you can skip this step. This will save you some time.

Once the basil was chopped I put it in a large measuring cup along with 2 tbsp of pine nuts (which add flavour and creaminess to the pesto), 2 cloves of garlic, a big pinch of salt, and 1/2 cup of olive oil. I pureed all this until smooth.

I would normally add parmesan to the pesto as well but I find when adding it to pasta like we are going to the cheese burns to the bottom of the pan. I opted to garnish the pasta with a little extra parmesan to make up for this.

At 4:57 pm the pesto was finished and set aside.

4:58 pm

At 4:58 I started cutting the lettuce for the salad. I used one head of romaine lettuce for this.

To cut it I first took off the very end of the leaves as they had some brown spots on them. Next I made a slice through the middle of the head of lettuce from the tip of the leaves to the root, but not through the root. I rotated the romain by one quarter turn and made the same slice. Then I cut the romaine across those slices giving me nice bite sized pieces.

Here is a quick video I did demonstrating what I’m talking about.

I put the romaine in a salad spinner, rinsed it a few times, and then spun it dry. Once it was dry I set it aside.

5:03 pm

At 5:03 pm I started prepping the vegetables for the salad. I peeled and sliced two carrots, sliced 1/2 a cucumber, 1/2 a green pepper, and 1 broccoli stalk. I put a few handfuls of lettuce in a bowl and topped it with the sliced vegetables and a few cherry tomatoes. I set this aside.

There was enough romaine left over for another salad of this size. The leftover romaine got covered with a damp paper towel and put in the fridge.

Also, at 5:04 the pasta water started boiling.

5:10 pm

At 5:10 the salad was done and set aside. I put the pasta in the water, and started heating the frying pan for the chicken. While the pan was heating over medium low heat I put the salad dressing together.

For he salad dressing I altered the French Dressing recipe from Genius Kitchen. They’re batch was way to big for what I needed, and I took away or changed some of the ingredients based on what I like.

The ingredients in the French Dressing are as follows:

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 3 tbsp white vinegar
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp mayo
  • salt and pepper to taste

To make the dressing all of these ingredients go into a bowl and get mixed together. That’s it.

5:12 pm

At 5:12 the salad dressing was done. I gave the pasta a stir and then quickly sliced one chicken breast very thin. I added 1 tbsp of olive oil to the hot frying pan and then the chicken.

Because the pan was hot and the chicken is sliced thin, it didn’t take long for it to cook.

5:17 pm

By 5:17 the chicken was all browned and I added a handful of cherry tomatoes to the pan.

I drained my pasta, added the pesto to the pan along with the now drained pasta. I tossed this all together, seasoned with salt, pepper, and parmesan, and that was that.

5:19 pm

At 5:19 I plated the pasta and the salad and dinner was ready to go.


In all honesty, this was the closest I’ve come to going over the 30 minute mark. I really had to hustle for the last two minutes but that was my own fault. I went into this with the mind set that this would be exceptionally quick, I mean it was just chicken pesto. But there were a few things that caught me up.

Like I said, I had to chop my basil because of the immersion blender, and I dillydallied cutting all the vegetables. Again, that’s my own fault.

Between my dillydallying, cutting the basil, and taking all the pictures, I blew through a lot of time that you shouldn’t have to. Because of that I see no reason why you or anyone else shouldn’t be able to make this dish in under 30 minutes start to finish.

Two bonuses of this are, you get to see how quickly pesto and and a delicious salad dressing can be put together. It’s almost quicker than grabbing them off the shelf at the grocery store. Almost quicker, but 100 x better.


  1. Peady @ Tempered with Kindness

    This looks so yummy and you did amazing all things considered! Taking photos along the way is so time consuming and awkward (well maybe that’s just me? Ha!). I love your Romaine lettuce #protip! Cool! Thanks for another great meal idea and recipe.

    I want a Vitamix blender so bad. You know … that would mean you never have to chop Basil again! Unless you wanted to. 🙂

    Great post!

  2. Chef Ben Kelly

    Thank you Peady. Taking photos can be a pain but it’s worth it. Pictures are so much more powerful than words


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