A quick and easy dinner made with classic Italian flavors and a rotisserie chicken. This family pleasing meal with juicy tomatoes, fresh pesto, and creamy mozzarella takes less than 30 minutes!
chicken margherita pasta
This is a convenient weeknight meal using a rotisserie chicken that comes together in the time it takes the pasta to boil. It combines my desire for garden fresh ingredients with my husband’s need for a substantial protein ~ it’s the perfect marriage 😉
margherita, not margarita!
Margherita refers to a classic Neapolitan pizza that was created in the 1880s to commemorate the unification of Italy with the colors of the Italian flag: green basil, red tomatoes, and white mozzarella. Margarita is the Mexican cocktail made with tequila and lime! (That might inspire a delicious pasta recipe too, but that’s for another day.)
I admit to being a pesto snob. Once you experience the bright flavor of homemade, it’s hard to be satisfied with the jarred stuff. And anyway, homemade pesto takes just a minute, you don’t even have to measure anything. Fill your processor with basil leaves, add a few glugs of olive oil, a squeeze of lemon juice, some pine nuts, a clove of garlic, a pinch of salt, and pulse away. Pesto, pedestrian though it has become, is one of the great culinary experiences when it’s made from scratch.
shopping list for chicken margherita pasta
- cooked chicken ~ diced, about a pound. You can use a rotisserie chicken or cook a couple of breasts in the oven while you prep the recipe. Fyi I’m a big fan of rotisserie chicken, it has great flavor and I always keep one in the fridge for quick meals like this.
- pasta ~ any kind you like.
- tomatoes ~ I used cherry tomatoes but full sized will work fine, just dice them
- freshly made pesto ~ or store bought, let your conscience be your guide 😉
- mozzarella pearls
- you can dice up regular mozzarella, instead, but the pearls are so cute!
- toasted pine nuts
- always toast your pine nuts, it makes a huge difference. I toss them in a little olive oil and toast in a skillet over medium heat, stirring constantly so they don’t burn.
step by step chicken margherita pasta in less than 30 minutes!
Note that this is a barely cooked pasta, in other words you’ll toss the hot pasta with the ingredients for a super quick weeknight meal.
- Put a big pot of well salted water on to boil and cook the pasta to al dente.
- Slice cherry tomatoes into quarters, cut regular tomatoes into large dice. Mince the garlic.
- Drain the pasta and set aside.
- To the same pot add a dash of olive oil, the garlic, chicken, and tomatoes. Sauté for a minute or two to just barely heat things up.
- Toss with the hot pasta and lots of pesto.
- Top off with pine nuts and mozzarella pearls.
more quick pasta dinners
- Creamy Lemon Asparagus Pasta
- Kale and Pancetta Pasta with Lemon and Garlic
- Easy Pasta Alla Checca
- Spaghetti Salad
- Shrimp Scampi Fra Diavlo
- Pasta with Sun Dried Tomato and Almond Pesto
Chicken Margarita Pasta
pesto (substitute 1 cup readymade pesto)
- 2 1/4 ounce fresh basil or about 3 cups
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup pine nuts
- 2 Tbsp lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 lb spaghetti
- 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 lb tomatoes, chopped
- 1 lb cooked chicken, diced
- 2/3 cup pesto sauce, recipe above
- 8 ounces mozzarella pearls
- toasted pine nuts
- Parmesan cheese
- basil leaves
to make the pesto
- Put the ingredients into a food processor and blend until smooth. Scrape down the sides if necessary. Take a taste to adjust any of the ingredients. Set aside.
to make the pasta
- Cook your pasta in plenty of well salted water to al dente. Drain and set aside.
- In the same pot, heat the olive oil and add the garlic, tomatoes, and chicken. Sauté for a minute or two to heat everything up.
- Add the hot pasta to the pan and toss well with the mozzarella pearls and pesto. Note: you may not need all of the pesto, use to taste.
- Serve garnished with toasted pine nuts and Parmesan cheese.