Basil Pesto Chicken Pasta with Asparagus and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Got the name of this recipe down?

Now… say that ten-times fast!!

This was a fabulous dish, to say the least. Nothing is better than fresh basil pesto, asparagus, and pasta on a lovely Bay Area day!

Vertical image of a white plate with farfalle pasta, asparagus, sun-dried tomatoes, and chicken pieces coated in pesto on a wooden table.

What I love the most about the basil pesto sauce is the freshness of it. I’ve bought ready-made packets and jars at the store before, and although those are good in a pinch if you need something quick, if I can help it (and I have time for it), I like to make my own from scratch.

This sauce is great. And although most recipes will call for pine nuts, I was inspired to use toasted walnuts instead. We even have a recipe here on Foodal featuring additional of lemon zest or juice. Give it a try!

This recipe was complemented very nicely by a side of tomato basil bruschetta on cracked whole wheat sourdough bread.

For another great pasta recipe featuring this fresh herb sauce, try our recipe for summery pesto pasta salad with fresh peas.

My Notes:

  • For the pesto, I substituted toasted walnuts for the pine nuts. I also dumped the entire batch of sauce into the dish, but I may use less of it when I make it next time just so it doesn’t look so saturated – we’re talking SUPER GREEN. Depending on your personal preference, my advice would be to add half of the pesto to start off with and adjust to your liking. But even with the full amount, it tasted fabulous and was not overwhelming to the flavor of the dish at all! (I sure wish I had some to eat right now…)

Family Verdict:

‘Twas a good selection is what I interpreted from the “Babe, this is good!” that I heard from hubby, and the kids came around when the pasta was finally described as “butterflies,” along with other methods of coaxing. The kids put forth an overall pass on the asparagus but managed to enjoy the pasta and chicken, although Little K did continue his food testing ritual of putting the asparagus in his mouth, chewing for a little bit, then spitting it all out.

Coaxing was not as easy the following day for Little K (oddly enough, he’s the kid that is more open to food in general). However, Big K did a wonderful job of cleaning his plate once he got into the groove of “green food is okay to eat.” Perhaps there are dishes kids consider one-hit wonders? Something about green food is just not appealing to my kids. However, I personally love asparagus.

I really liked the added touch of the sun-dried tomatoes. I was getting a little obsessed with wanting to have one with each bite! Trader Joe’s has a really good one that’s packed in olive oil, and that is what I used for this recipe.


Definitely! We will be making again!

Bon appetit,

Vertical image of a white ramekin with a dark pesto on a black board next to walnuts, garlic cloves, and basil on a granite surface.
Basil Pesto Chicken Pasta with Asparagus and Sun-Dried Tomatoes
Yield = 6-8 servings


  • 1 12-oz. box farfalle (bow-tie) noodles
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 bunch of asparagus, washed and cut into 2-inch lengths
  • 1/3 cup sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, drained and chopped
  • 1/2-1 cup Basil Pesto Sauce (recipe to follow)


  1. Cook pasta according to package instructions. Drain and set aside.
  2. Season chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Grill or cook in a skillet over medium-high heat until lightly browned on the outside and cooked through. Slice into thin bite-sized pieces.
  3. Steam asparagus over and inch of water in a large pan until fork tender.
  4. Toss pasta, chicken, asparagus, sun-dried tomatoes, and pesto together in a bowl, starting with 1/2 cup of pesto and adding more to your liking.

Basil Pesto Sauce
Yield: 1 cup


  • 2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan-Reggiano or Romano cheese
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts or walnuts (toasting is optional)
  • 3 medium-sized garlic cloves, minced
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


  1. Combine the basil with the pine nuts, and pulse a few times in a food processor. (If you are using walnuts instead of pine nuts and they are not already chopped, pulse them a few times first, before adding the basil.) Add the garlic, and pulse a few times more.
  2. Slowly add the olive oil in a constant stream while the food processor is on. Stop to scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula as needed. Add the grated cheese and pulse again until blended. Add a pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Did you love this tasty recipe? Be sure to check out some of these other pesto-enhanced dishes:

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About Lynne Jaques

Lynne is a stay-at-home mother of two boys. As a former US military officer and the spouse of an active duty US military member, Lynne enjoys traveling the world (although not the moving part!) and finding new cuisine and methods of preparing food. She also has the habit of using parenthesis way too much!

31 thoughts on “Basil Pesto Chicken Pasta with Asparagus and Sun-Dried Tomatoes”

  1. I think I will be making this for dinner one night! It sounds so tasty. I particularly like how you substituted toasted walnuts for pine nuts! I bet that tasted fantastic. The recipe you have included looks pretty easy to follow thankfully for someone like me who has to stick to the instructions 100% when cooking new things! Ha.
    Little K sounds adorable ! At least he attempted the asparagus even if he did spit it out. I don’t even think my fiancé would let it pass his lips but we shall see.

  2. Just wondering….can one substitute toasted walnuts or pine nuts for other nuts of one’s particular liking or with this particular recipe, one has to stick to the rules? For the farfalle bow-tie noodles…i ‘d address them just like the kids did…they sure look like butterflies :). Am trying to think of what wine would best complement/accompany the whole dish…red or white wine?…beats me.

  3. Hmm, this looks really good. I’ve never tried aspargus, but I’ve always wnated to. I guess now I have an excuse to buy them!

    • Never tried asparagus! You will love it I’m sure, I do. It is a seasonal vegetable though we get it here Feb-June at it’s best. I avoid it outside of that, it can be bitter.

      This is a great article Lynne, I am always open to new pesto ideas.

      • My sentiments exactly! I love it! Started eating it a few years back, five to be exact, and it has become a staple (in season) in my home.

  4. Pasta and pesto sauce is two of my most favorite ingredients to combine. I have yet to ‘jazz it up’ like your recipe. I also will have to closely follow the recipe to complete it. This will be a good meal for us after a game because it seems like it would be very quick to make.

  5. I’m not a fan of asparagus so I wonder what this would be like with broccoli. I love chicken and broccoli dishes, and I think the other ingredients would play nice with it, what do you think?

  6. It looks gourmet! Its amazing how sundried tomatoes add a sweet flavor when blended to the recipe. I am definitely going to make this on weekend. Maybe I’d cut the asparagus smaller and will use bowtie pasta. Can I substitute bacon to chicken? Surely, this will be a hit!

  7. What a gorgeous dish! I love all of the pretty colors. Making pesto is so much better than eating the premade store kind. The flavors are much more intense. I like eating pesto as an alternative to other calorie heavy pasta sauces.

  8. I made this for dinner yesterday and it was just so good! I urge everyone to try it too, it’s really simple and the end result is just amazing. All the ingredients work together very well. Thanks for this! I’ll be making it again for sure.

  9. Asparagus has that unique aroma and aftertaste and though I love basil, it too has that herbal essence. I’m curious how this recipe tastes with asparagus and basil in the mix. The chicken, the bland pasta and the tomatoes will no doubt even out the dominant herbal aroma.

  10. I would really like to try this recipe. I would also make it into a vegetarian version and add zucchini and carrots as a substitute for the chiken.

  11. I was reading some of the comments and noticed a few asking about other ingredients. I think this dish is wide open for making it your own. I hardly use pine nuts and often substitute unseasoned toasted almond slivers for them. I often use broccoli as a stand in for asparagus as my family just won’t eat the “green sticks!” It looks delicious!

  12. Oh, wow, this looks so yummy! I never tried mixing asparagus with pasta. I’m used to having asparagus on its own as a side vegetable dish. Hmmh, I’m liking this mix. Cool, I can’t wait to try…

  13. I just recently discovered the delight of sun dried tomatoes. It is one of the things that turned me on to trying new things. When things started popping up all over the grocery store with sun dried tomatoes, everything from frozen pasta dinners to salad dressing, I decided it was time to see what all the fuss was about. At first, it seemed nothing special, but then I tried one straight, by itself, and just popped it in my mouth like any other dried fruit. It was delicious and tangy. I loved it. Now when I use sun dried tomatoes, I always chop them up, and sprinkle the pieces throughout the dish. You can’t use too much, or the flavor will take over the dish, but it is something subtle that you can do to add pizzaz to your recipes.

  14. Pesto is one of those dishes that always tastes good and is always comforting. And, with a food processor it makes it much easier to make fresh. I want to start experimenting more with adding different proteins and vegetables with my pesto pasta. I really like the classic chicken and asparagus combination!

  15. I saw bow ties & I saw sun dried tomatoes & I knew I was committed to this recipe. There’s nothing I love more than a pasta that has less of the traditional ways of pasta & more of a new age approach. If I can add flavour by altering or removing a plain old tomato sauce you better bet I will. Thanks for the new addition.

  16. Mmm, another pasta dish to add to the repertoire. I often rely on pasta for quick after-work meals and pesto is one of my favorite accompaniments so I’ll certainly be trying this one out in the hear future. Thanks!

  17. Chicken and pasta are always a good combination. And speaking about good combinations, this whole recipe represents the best in Italian flavors. The sauce is particularly very good. I can’t wait to pair this meal with a good Chardonnay.

  18. I’m trying to cook this for my parents (it’s going to be their 20th anniversary). Since I’m 15 and not the most gifted chef, they have absolutely no faith in me. However, I’m crossing my fingers. This looks so elegant, but seems simple enough to make so I’ll give it a try. I once ordered a similar sort of dish at a restaurant, but it was nothing compared to this (at least from the looks of it), so hopefully this can transform me into a star chef (it’s deep inside me somewhere!) Anyways, this looks absolutely delicious, the bow ties and sun dried tomatoes just makes my mouth water, I can just imagine the flavors with all the herbs and spices. The mere picture of the plate is absolutely beautiful, there is nothing I love more than a dish with proper presentation.

  19. Mmm, so many of my favorite things in one simple recipe. I do love pine nuts, but walnuts are more cost-effective and an inspired substitution in the pesto. I need to try this ASAP. And I’ll have to try it with broccoli standing in for asparagus when asparagus season ends, too.

  20. I really like the sound and look of this recipe. I appreciate that it only calls for one chicken breast, and that walnuts can be substituted for the pine nuts, which can be very expensive. I saw @js85 mention substituting broccoli for the asparagus, which could be another money saver, and something I might try. I think this would be a big hit in my house!

  21. Wow! Speechless here! This recipe looks amazing, and seems so very easy to make. My favorite foods are Mexican and Italian by the looks and ingredients I know I will fall in love with this dish in a heartbeat. I can’t wait to taste it! I know my husband and kids will love it too. It will be a hit at my table!

  22. This looks and sounds amazing. While I love pesto, I stray from making it due to just thinking it will be difficult. This recipe proves me wrong! Seems simple and delicious, I cannot wait to make this at ho,me for dinner!

  23. Yum. I wish I had some of this to eat right now. It looks like it would make some good comfort food, which is just what I need at the moment. I’m sick.

    Someone make this for me, please. 🙂

    I will definitely be using this recipe. It might even become a staple for me. I think I’ll substitute zucchini or something for the pasta though (which is what I usually do, since I’m doing low carbs, and veggies are a fraction of the carbs compared to noodles).

    Thanks for sharing. It looks and sounds great.

  24. While I like the idea of this recipe, green pesto can be a bit rich for me, so I may substitute the green for red instead. I just prefer the taste. I would also throw in a few chillies for a bit of a kick!

  25. I am usually not the biggest asparagus fan there is, but for some reason I can see myself falling in love with this dish. I can eat anything when it is over a bed of pasta though, and I think the basil pesto would probably have me hooked on the smell alone. Looks like another good one.


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