Spinach and Pumpkin Seed Pesto Chicken over Pasta

This one-dish dinner is full of vibrant colors and robust flavors and with some careful planning it all comes together in under half an hour.
By Yuliya Childers
Spinach and Pumpkin Seed Pesto Chicken over Pasta

Spinach and Pumpkin Seed Pesto Chicken over Pasta
Prep Time
Cook Time
Total Time
This one-dish dinner is full of vibrant colors and robust flavors and with some careful planning it all comes together in under half an hour.
Recipe Type: Main
Serves: 4
For the chicken:
  • 2 large chicken breast halves
  • 1 lemon (juice only)
  • 3 tbsp cooking fat (I used rendered chicken fat, but butter or olive oil will do nicely)
  • salt, pepper, dry oregano
For the pesto:
  • 3 packed cups baby spinach
  • 1 lemon – juice and zest
  • ⅓ cups (or more) olive oil
  • 3-4 scallions, green portion only
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 1 cup toasted pumpkin seeds
  • 3-4 tbs chopped parsley
  • salt, pepper
  • 1 lbs colorful pasta, not too small
  • ½ tbsp coarse salt for toasting pumpkin seeds
  • a few shavings of parmesan into each bowl at serving
  1. Start by boiling water for pasta in a large pot. Add some salt and olive oil to prevent pasta from sticking. When water is boiling, add pasta, stir, reduce heat to medium and cook until ready (9-12 minutes, depending on pasta type). Drain an set aside.
  2. While pasta is cooking, prepare the rest of the components simultaneously.
  3. Start by heating the cooking fat in a skillet over medium heat.
  4. Sprinkle chicken breast halves with salt, pepper and dry oregano all over.
  5. Place chicken in heated oil and cook on both sides for a short time (1 minute each).
  6. Add juice of 1 lemon to the skillet, reduce heat to medium/low and continue cooking, turning occasionally, until done (about 10 – 12 minutes). Set aside.
  7. If toasting pumpkin seeds, put ½ tbsp of coarse salt in a small (preferably cast iron) skillet over medium heat. Add pumpkin seeds. Toast seeds for a few minutes, stirring or shaking frequently, until they start to crack and turn golden. Turn off the heat and leave pumpkin seeds in the skillet until cool. When move seeds away from salt before using them. It won’t be hard, because they are lighter than coarse salt. Discard the salt.
  8. Now you are ready to prepare pesto.
  9. Reserve 1-2 tbsp of pumpkin seeds for garnish. Put the remaining pumpkin seeds and the rest of the pesto ingredients in a processor and hit pulse a few times at first, allowing everything to settle. Now turn the processor on and see if pesto is thin enough (consistency of pancake batter). If not, add a little more olive oil and/or lemon juice as you work the pesto.
  10. Slice or dice cooked chicken breasts.
  11. Assemble your dish in serving bowls: pasta, chicken, pesto, pumpkin seed sprinkle and shaved or grated parmesan.

Yuliya Childers

Yuliya Childers is a self-proclaimed cooking and writing addict born and raised in a cosmopolitan city of Odessa on the Black Sea coast. She started cooking at quite an early age and learned most of her skills by watching others and reading cook books. Made-from-scratch naturally grown food is her passion. Yuliya believes that truly good food either creates or invokes memories. Her blog Eat Already! is focused on everyday creative yet un-pretentious cooking that anyone with basic skill can replicate. Yuliya's recipes are usually accompanied by childhood memories or family stories related to the dish in some way. Her recipes are honest, eclectic, multi-cultural, imaginative, and often outside the box. Currently she's into artisan breads, traditional cooking, and everything fermented… Yuliya is cooking and writing about it from Alabama.

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