This veggie pesto pasta recipe is balanced in macronutrients and simple to make. I love to use this idea for a simple, tasty meal prep or when I need to throw together an easy dinner in a pinch!
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Chicken pesto pasta with roasted veggies
This easy recipe for a pesto pasta bowl is a great example of a tasty meal idea using my meal planning framework of protein, grain/starch, color, and flavor. The following list will share some ideas for other varieties and options for homemade or convenience items that you could use for each portion of this bowl.
When plating your meal, be sure to match your portions of each category with your personal nutrition and/or performance needs. Finish it off with a sprinkle of grated parmesan cheese and maybe even a squeeze of fresh lemon juice – mmm!
While this meal idea uses chicken breast, you could certainly use any protein. My favorite options with pesto are chicken and shrimp! I prefer leaner protein options here to keep the calories from fat balanced with protein and carbs.
When preparing the protein for this meal, I like to keep it simple to let the pesto flavor shine. I season with salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and maybe a dash of oregano or Italian seasoning.
Tip: skip cooking your own protein and throw in some rotisserie chicken!
Ya can’t have pesto pasta without the pasta! Any pasta shape will work here. I love using a regular pasta like penne pasta or bow ties, but any variety or speciality pasta will work depending on your needs and preferences. Increase the fiber by using a whole wheat pasta, lentil pasta, or chickpea pasta like Banza. If you choose to skip adding a source of animal protein for a vegetarian pesto pasta…I recommend choosing pasta like Banza for some extra protein.
Tips for storing cooked pasta: Cook pasta al dente or according to the package instructions in a large pot of salted water. Drain and rinse the hot pasta in cold water to stop the cooking process. When cooled and drained, toss the cooked pasta in a little olive oil – I love using a basil infused olive oil in this pesto recipe. Store in an airtight container in the fridge. I’ve found this is the best method to help the pasta pieces remain separated and not stick together!
COLOR– Roasted veggies
Hello creativity. This part is totally up to you and can change every time you make this meal. You could keep it simple and roast a pan of broccoli…or make your bowl extra colorful with a few different veggies. I recommend choosing vegetables that are in season and/or on sale for the best value, nutrients, and flavor! I find this recipe is a great way to incorporate a variety of spring vegetables or summer vegetables.
In this specific meal idea, I’m using a mix of asparagus, bell peppers, mushroom, and onions. Zucchini and yellow squash also work really well in this pasta dish. Sometimes I like to add in a few pieces of sun-dried tomatoes or fresh cherry tomatoes on top!
For perfectly roasted veggies…read my tips on how to make roasted vegetables.
The star of the show! Traditional pesto is a flavorful mix of fresh basil, pine nuts, parmesan cheese, olive oil, and garlic. There are plenty of other varieties like walnut pesto, kale pesto, dairy-free pesto, red pesto made with tomatoes, etc. It’s fairly simple to make your own pesto in a food processor, but I usually opt for a store bought version to save time. You can find pesto varieties in the refrigerated dip section of your local grocery store (by the hummus and fresh salsa) or in a jar by the pasta sauces!
Tip: the serving size for pesto is generally listed as 1/4th cup. I prefer to use less (1 tbsp) to be mindful of calories from fat in this olive oil based sauce…but use as much as you would like for flavor and to meet your individual needs!
Simply assemble all ingredients and pop them into your meal prep containers. You could also store ingredients separately and assemble your bowl when it’s time to eat!
Chicken Pesto Pasta with Roasted VegetablesPrint Recipe
- 1 cup cooked pasta
- 3/4 cup mixed roasted vegetables
- 4 oz cooked chicken breast
- 1 tbsp pesto
- 1 tsp parmesan cheese
- Combine all ingredients and adjust portions to your nutrition and/or performance needs
Mixed Roasted VegetablesPrint Recipe
- 1 lb asparagus 1 bunch
- 16 oz mushrooms 1 container
- 1 medium bell pepper
- 1 medium onion red or yellow
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 450F
- Rinse and pat dry asparagus, bell pepper, and mushrooms
- Chop all vegetables into desired size
- Add to a parchment paper lined sheet pan
- Drizzle with oil and season to taste with salt and pepper
- Toss to combine and spread evenly in 1 layer
- Roast for 10-15 minutes or until desired tenderness
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