Chicken and Fresh Vegetable Penne Pasta Entrée with Cilantro Parsley Pesto

Chicken and Fresh Vegetable Penne Pasta Entrée with Pesto

Chicken and Fresh Vegetable Penne Pasta Entrée
Chicken and Fresh Vegetable Penne Pasta Entrée | Source

What's for supper tonight?


This is a daily question and concern for most of us. A bit of fore-thought must go into the planning especially if thawing things from one's freezer and wishing to utilize that ingredient later in the day.

Even if stopping by a grocery store on the way home to pick up last minute items, a plan for using them is well advised. Otherwise, if tired and hungry after a day's work, one is more likely to be tempted to grab a quick meal at the drive through fast food establishment, or go out to eat.

As we all know, this is probably not the greatest of options for two reasons. Less nutritious and higher calorie food is often served at the fast food emporiums with a few exceptions. And frequent dining out at restaurants takes a toll on our monthly budgets.

Let me show you an easy to prepare quick dinner option that does not take long to prepare and is delicious, nutritious and easy on the budget. This chicken pasta entrée with loads of fresh vegetables paired with a leafy green salad will be sure to please your family members and/or friends that may be stopping by to join you for your nightly meal.


Cilantro Parsley Pesto

Filling the mixing bowl with the fresh ingredients for the pesto.
Filling the mixing bowl with the fresh ingredients for the pesto. | Source
Freshly made cilantro parsley pesto
Freshly made cilantro parsley pesto | Source

Here is another recipe about making homemade pesto in little time. Different ingredients, but just shows how pesto can be made in many variations and to suit e

Cilantro Parsley Pesto


I made the pesto and the pasta dish at the same time, but this pesto recipe could easily be made up ahead of time.


When I make homemade pesto I put what remains after use into small containers with a little extra virgin olive oil over the top and then freeze them. Pesto also keeps well in the refrigerator for a long time and retains its color if kept topped with a little EVOO.


Giada de Laurentiis (one of the celebrity chefs on television) puts her pesto in ice cube trays, and when frozen she puts them into freezer bags pulling out only however many cubes she thinks she will need for recipes. I have yet to try that, but think that it is a good idea.


Pesto can be created from many different ingredients. Most often basil is used along with EVOO, garlic, Parmesan Reggiano cheese, pine nuts or other nuts and seasonings.


For this recipe I filled the Cuisinart mixing bowl with 2 large bunches of cilantro, 1 large bunch of parsley, 3 cloves peeled garlic, 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, 2/3 cup pecans, 1/3 cup Parmesan Reggiano cheese, salt and freshly ground pepper to taste, plus 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes for some extra spiciness and flavor.


All the fresh herbs did not fit into the bowl at first, so I just processed it a bit and kept adding more as can be seen in the first photo to the right.


I gave it all a whirl in the food processor and walla! I had freshly made pesto!


Ready to cook?


Let's get started!

I would suggest making up your pesto first as I did. If you do not have the time or inclination to make your own homemade pesto, just purchase some ready made pesto at the grocery store. The flavor will be different but equally good.

Penne Pasta

Penne Pasta
Penne Pasta | Source

Ingredients for the Chicken Penne Pasta with Fresh Vegetables (not including the pesto, as those ingredients are listed above.)

  • 1 package Penne Pasta, cooked al dente
  • 1 medium Onion, sliced
  • 8 Mini Peppers, slivered
  • 2 medium Zucchini, sliced in half then cut into pieces...half moon shaped
  • 4 small raw Chicken Fillets, cubed
  • 2 tablespoons Extra virgin olive oil
  • 8 ounces Fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • Parmesan Regianno cheese, to taste
  • Garlic powder or fresh minced, to taste
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Hot pepper flakes (optional), to taste

Like vegetarian dishes instead?


Note: This can easily be made into a vegetarian dish by simply omitting the chicken and skipping that part of the preparation directions.

Preparation of this Chicken Penne Pasta dish with Vegetables

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Bag of the mini peppers that we like to use.Sliced onionSlivered mini peppersSliced zucchiniSliced mushroomsCubed chicken.Saute onions in the pan with some EVOO.Next add the peppers to the pan.Add the zucchini...Then add the sliced mushrooms.Cook and stir until the veggies are softened.Set aside in a dish.Add the chicken pieces to the same pan and cook until done.Add the vegetables back into the pan with the chicken.Add dollops of the pesto and stir.
Bag of the mini peppers that we like to use.
Bag of the mini peppers that we like to use. | Source
Sliced onion
Sliced onion | Source
Slivered mini peppers
Slivered mini peppers | Source
Sliced zucchini
Sliced zucchini | Source
Sliced mushrooms
Sliced mushrooms | Source
Cubed chicken.
Cubed chicken. | Source
Saute onions in the pan with some EVOO.
Saute onions in the pan with some EVOO. | Source
Next add the peppers to the pan.
Next add the peppers to the pan. | Source
Add the zucchini...
Add the zucchini... | Source
Then add the sliced mushrooms.
Then add the sliced mushrooms. | Source
Cook and stir until the veggies are softened.
Cook and stir until the veggies are softened. | Source
Set aside in a dish.
Set aside in a dish. | Source
Add the chicken pieces to the same pan and cook until done.
Add the chicken pieces to the same pan and cook until done. | Source
Add the vegetables back into the pan with the chicken.
Add the vegetables back into the pan with the chicken. | Source
Add dollops of the pesto and stir.
Add dollops of the pesto and stir. | Source

Completed Chicken Penne Pasta dish with vegetables ready to be served!

Adjust the seasonings to your liking and this pasta dish is ready for plating!
Adjust the seasonings to your liking and this pasta dish is ready for plating! | Source

Instructions to make this pasta recipe

  1. Cook your pasta according to package directions keeping it al dente, or slightly undercooked as it will finish cooking in the pan with the rest of the ingredients. Al dente means "to the tooth" which means it is still a bit firm. Drain the pasta saving some of the pasta water for later use, if needed.
  2. Slice your vegetables according to directions.
  3. Wash and pat dry your chicken fillets and cut into cubes.
  4. Start by adding the extra virgin olive oil into the pan and when heated add your sliced onions.
  5. After a minute or two of stirring, add the sliced peppers, followed by the zucchini and mushrooms.
  6. Season to taste and cook until the vegetables have all wilted and softened but still retain some of their bright colors.
  7. Remove the vegetables from the pan and set aside.
  8. Add the diced chicken into the same pan adding a bit more of the oil if needed and sauté until just done. Season at this stage also.
  9. Add the vegetables back into the pan with the chicken and stir.
  10. Add the cooked pasta and some of the Parmesan cheese. Stir and taste. Adjust seasonings. If the pasta dish needs a bit more moisture, add some of the reserved pasta water into the pan a little at a time and combine with all of the ingredients.
  11. Add a few dollops of the fresh pesto. I probably used about 3 tablespoons or so. Use according to your own preference.
  12. When this is nicely mixed and to your liking, serve on heated plates and garnish with a little extra Parmesan Regianno cheese over the top, if desired.
  13. Enjoy!

Cook Time including making the Pesto and boiling the water to cook the Pasta

Prep time: 30 min
Cook time: 30 min
Ready in: 1 hour
Yields: Serves 8 or more people depending upon appetite.

Chicken Penne Pasta Entrée with Vegetables & Cilantro Parsley Pesto

Doesn't this look good?
Doesn't this look good? | Source

Please rate me!

4.9 stars from 12 ratings of Chicken Penne Pasta with Fresh Veggies & Pesto

Do you think that you will be making this dish?

  • Yes...looks delicious and sounds easy enough to prepare.
  • Perhaps
  • Sounds too challenging for me to make. Do you deliver? :)
  • I don't eat pasta.
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See how easy it is to come up with good tasting and delicious meals in an hour or less of preparation and cooking time? With ready made pesto or homemade pesto made ahead of time, the timing of this pasta dish is shaved down to almost half.


No excuses now! Start cooking and enjoy the "oohs and aahs" that come from the people seated at your dinner table.

Bon Appetit!

© 2012 Peggy Woods

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Comments are welcomed. Thanks! 68 comments

Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 15 months ago from Houston, Texas Author

Hi thumbi7,

Nice that you now know how to make your own pesto. It is so easy to make different versions of pasta dishes depending what one has on hand or what a family's food preferences might happen to be. Glad you liked reading this and thanks for the share.


thumbi7 profile image

thumbi7 15 months ago from India

I also prepare a slightly different version for my children. Chicken is not cut in cubes in my recipe. I boil chicken breasts and scramble into thin pieces.

I didn't know how to prepare pesto

Thanks for this recipe

Voted up and shared


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 17 months ago from Houston, Texas Author

Hi Patricia,

Sorry if reading about this recipe and seeing the photos made you hungry. Perhaps by now you or your daughter have tried this recipe? It is really tasty and flavorful. Appreciate the shares.

Hope that this is a wonderful day for you with many blessings!


pstraubie48 profile image

pstraubie48 18 months ago from sunny Florida

One thing my family likes is food with lots of flavor and texture. And this fits the bill perfectly. I am pinning this to Awesome HubPages , sharing, and voting up.

I am also sending my daughter to my Pinterest board to see this.

I am starving, now!!!

Angels are on the way to you this afternoon ps


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 20 months ago from Houston, Texas Author

Hi Au fait,

I agree that it would be fun to meet fellow hubbers in our areas. Thanks for the share and stay warm in your part of Texas. It is certainly cold in Houston right now! Brr!


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