A marriage of traditional chicken Florentine with pasta and basil pesto. Sliced sautéed chicken breasts with spinach, garlic, white wine, cream, pesto, and pasta.
Photography Credit:Elise Bauer
Dear chicken Florentine. I like you. I like your spinach and your cream sauce.
But honestly? I don’t love you. You’re missing a little pizzaz.
So, I would like to introduce you to my friend pesto pasta.
You kinda need that punch from the pesto’s garlic, basil, and Parmesan.
Now we have the makings of love. Go forth and multiply.
Recipe and photos updated, first published 2011
Chicken Florentine Pesto Pasta Recipe
We've used fresh spinach in this recipe, but you could easily use frozen. Just defrost and drain.
- 12 ounces dried short pasta (bowties, penne, gemelli, etc)
- 4 chicken breast cutlets (1 to 1 1/2 pounds total)
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped, about 1 cup
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 cup white wine or stock
- 8-16 ounces of fresh spinach*, washed, long stems removed and chopped
- Black pepper
- 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1/4 cup (or more) pesto
*To wash spinach, fill up a clean sink basin with cold water and let the spinach soak in the water. Move it around a bit to loosen any dirt. Fresh spinach is usually pretty dirty, so you may need to do a couple of soakings. Remove the spinach and shake off excess water. Lay the spinach leaves down on a clean towel and pat dry.
1 Start cooking the pasta: Bring a large pot of salted water (add enough salt so that the water tastes salty) to a boil. Add the dried pasta and cook until al dente.
2 Cook the chicken: While preparing the pasta, cook the chicken. Sprinkle the chicken breasts with salt, heat the olive oil in a sauté pan and brown the chicken breasts on both sides over medium-high heat. They don't need to be cooked all the way through, just browned. Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside.
3 Sauté onions: Add the chopped onion to the pan and sauté 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally. While the onions cook, slice the chicken into strips. Put any pieces that are cooked all the way through in one pile, and put the ones that still need a little cooking in another pile.
4 Add garlic, then white wine or stock: When the onions are just beginning to brown, add the garlic and cook another minute. Add the white wine or stock and boil vigorously until the liquid is reduced by half.
5 Add spinach, chicken: Add the spinach and the undercooked pieces of chicken to the pan. Using tongs, turn them over to coat them with the juices in the pan. Continue to cook, turning and stirring often, until the spinach is wilted and the chicken cooked through, about 2 minutes.
6 Combine chicken, spinach, pesto, pasta, cream: Turn off the heat and add some black pepper, the pile of cooked chicken pieces and the pesto. Stir to combine. Drain the pasta put it in a large bowl. Add the cream to the sauté pan and stir well to combine. Add the contents of the pan to the bowl with the pasta and mix well. Serve at once.
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