Pesto Chicken Pasta is a quick and delicious pasta dish with succulent pieces of chicken breast and flavorful baby Portobello mushrooms in a delicious pesto cream sauce. The red pepper I have used in this recipe is called Aleppo Pepper, or Pul Biber in Turkish. This is a mildly hot pepper that is grown in Turkey and Syria. The Aleppo peppers are dried and de-seeded, then crushed. The flavor is very unique, smoky, and pleasantly hot. This pepper is sold online and also in Mediterranean markets. If you’re unable to find Aleppo Pepper, you may substitute with crushed red pepper flakes; however use less, since the red pepper flakes are a lot spicier than Aleppo Pepper.
Baby Bella mushrooms are small brown firm button mushrooms, also called baby Portobello and Cremini mushrooms. The flavor is more intense than the white button mushrooms and the texture is different from the large Portobello mushrooms.
I have used homemade pesto sauce that is very simple to prepare in your food processor and you may find the recipe on my blog.
You may also use store bought pesto sauce.
Slice the chicken breasts and baby bellas. Bring the pesto sauce to room temperature if frozen. The spiral hollow pastas work best with this recipe. This pasta may be sold under a variety of names such as Cavatappi, Cellentani, Tortiglioni,…
Saute the chicken breasts until slightly golden brown and no longer pink inside
Saute the baby bellas just until tender but still juicy
Sprinkle some Aleppo Pepper on top, toss and serve this delicious Pesto Chicken Pasta immediately with a side of salad and a slice of garlic bread. Enjoy!
Cooking time: About 30 minutes
- 2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (about 1 ½ pounds)
- 1 ½ TBSP olive oil
- ½ tsp coarse kosher salt
- Dash of freshly cracked black pepper
- 12 ounces baby Portobello mushrooms, wash and drain
- 5 ounces homemade pesto sauce, or store bought pesto. Defrost the pesto in room temperature for about 30 minutes, if frozen.
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 12 ounces uncooked cavatappi (also called cellentani) pasta
- ½ -3/4 tsp Aleppo pepper (Turkish Pul Biber) (may substitute with equal parts smoked paprika and ancho chili powder or a light sprinkle of red pepper flakes)
- Cook the cavatappi pasta in salted water until al dente, drain and keep warm.
- slice the mushrooms and set aside.
- Remove all fat from the chicken breasts. Slice each chicken breast lengthwise to half its thickness, so you have 4 pieces. Slice each sliced breast into ½-inch thick pieces.
- Heat the olive oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Add chicken pieces in a single layer to the skillet. Sprinkle with kosher salt and a dash of freshly cracked black pepper. Brown on one side undisturbed for about 7 minutes, or until light golden brown. Use a spatula to turn the pieces and brown the other side, 4-5 minutes, or until no longer pink inside.
- There will be some natural juices in the skillet from cooking the chicken. Remove all the cooked chicken with a slotted spoon and keep warm.
- Add the sliced mushrooms to the same skillet and toss with the juices. Saute over medium high heat for about 5 minutes. The mushrooms should be tender but still very juicy. Do not dry them out by overcooking them.
- Reduce the heat to medium and add the pesto sauce and cooked chicken to the mushrooms. Toss to coat and saute for 5 more minutes .
- Add the heavy cream and stir to combine with the pesto sauce.
- Add cooked cavatappi to the skillet and toss until well coated with the cream pesto sauce. Reduce the heat to medium low and cook for 5 more minutes. Stir frequently.
- Sprinkle with Aleppo pepper and serve immediately with a side of salad and a slice of garlic bread.