A few days ago, I posted my recipe for homemade dairy-free pesto. Pesto can be eaten in a million different ways, but one of my favorite ways to use it at dinnertime is in this delicious Pesto Pasta with Chicken, Asparagus and Peas. This meal is simple enough to make on a weeknight (especially if you make the pesto a day or so ahead of time), but it tastes and looks like a lot of work. It’s like spring in a bowl.
One thing I love about this dinner is how versatile it is. You can modify it in many different ways depending on your tastes and what you have available in your fridge or freezer. You can swap in some haricot verts or snap peas for the asparagus if you’re not an asparagus fan. And you can use any type of pasta your heart desires. I like using penne with pesto because the little ridges help grab onto the sauce, but any type of pasta noodle will do. Finally, you can choose to omit the grilled chicken if you want to make it a vegetarian or vegan dish, OR you can substitute salmon, rotisserie chicken, or shrimp. The possibilities and combinations are endless!
While I obviously recommend using my homemade pesto recipe in this dish, you can easily swap in store bought pesto if you’re in a hurry, or any other pesto recipe you already know and love.
And to make this pasta dinner more versatile still, you can choose to serve it hot out of the pan, or let it cool to room temperature. When I’m entertaining, I love serving foods that taste just as good at room temperature as they do piping hot because it eliminates all of the last-minute running around. There’s nothing worse than continually yelling at your guests, “Come and get your plate while the food is hot!” while they are milling around like snails, refilling their wine glasses, and taking last-minute trips to the restroom.
Just plop the bowl of pasta in the center of the table, take a deep breath of accomplishment, and let people eat whenever they’re ready.
Having a good room temperature dish in your repertoire also makes life easier on a regular Tuesday night when schedules don’t allow for everyone to eat at exactly the same time. No need for a bunch of heating and reheating — just serve it as is and it will be absolutely delicious.
I will say that the one bonus to serving this dish hot is that you can shave some fresh parmesan over the top and watch as it slowly melts into the warm pesto and pasta. Since I don’t cook with cheese due to the allergies in our house, it’s my favorite way to get my cheese fix at dinnertime.
If you enjoyed this recipe, be sure to check out my FULL RECIPE INDEX or these related posts: