Pesto Pasta Salad with Chicken
- basil pesto:
- 2 tablespoons pine nuts
- 1 small garlic clove, peeled
- 2 packed cups basil leaves
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 1/2 cup olive oil, divided
- For pasta salad:
- 1 pound spiral pasta
- 2 pounds chicken tenders
- 1 cup tomatoes, halved
- 3 tablespoons pine nuts
- Zest and juice of 1 lemon
Process pine nuts and garlic in a food processor until the texture of coarse sand; about 30 seconds.
Add basil and parmesan cheese, process until a paste forms. Add 1/3 cup olive oil. Process to incorporate; about 10 seconds.
Cook pasta according to package directions. Reserve 1/2 cup of pasta cooking liquid. Drain pasta and rinse with cold water until the pasta is room temperature.
Heat an electric griddle, or large nonstick skillet. Coat with non-stick spray and cook chicken over medium heat until golden on both sides, about 8 minutes total.
Place pasta in a large bowl. Add tomatoes, 1/4 cup pesto, pine nuts, lemon juice and zest. Toss to coat. Add pasta cooking liquid, a few tablespoons at a time, to coat pasta and thin the pesto sauce. Add chicken, toss and serve.