Photo: Randy Mayor; Styling: Leigh Ann Ross
10 servings (serving size: 2 cups pasta and about 1 1/2 tablespoons cheese)

This pasta dish comes together quickly if one person grills chicken while another cooks the pasta and sauce. Garnish with basil sprigs, if desired. If you serve wine, a chardonnay complements the creamy sauce.

How to Make It

Step 1

Prepare grill to medium-high heat.

Step 2

Sprinkle chicken evenly with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Place chicken on grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill 10 minutes or until done, turning after 6 minutes. Remove from grill; let stand 5 minutes. Cut chicken into 1/2-inch pieces; keep warm.

Step 3

Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain in colander over a bowl, reserving 1/4 cup cooking liquid. Place pasta in large bowl.

Step 4

Heat butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic to pan; cook 1 minute, stirring occasionally. Combine 1/2 cup milk and flour in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add milk mixture to pan, stirring constantly with a whisk. Stir in pesto. Gradually add remaining 1 cup milk and half-and-half, stirring constantly with a whisk. Cook 8 minutes or until sauce thickens, stirring frequently. Add 1/4 cup reserved cooking liquid, remaining 3/4 teaspoon salt, remaining 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and 1 cup cheese; stir until cheese melts.

Step 5

Add chicken and sauce to pasta, tossing well to coat. Add tomatoes and basil; toss gently. Sprinkle with remaining 1 cup cheese. Serve immediately.

Ratings & Reviews

Instant Classic

June 06, 2016
With one bite, this jumped to the top of my CL favorites--and I've been a subscriber for over 20 years. The sauce is the key. The flavor is rich with the feel of comfort food. I used skim milk and fat-free half & half. As some have remarked, there is not a strong pesto flavor so you should add more if you love it. I grilled my chicken and thought it added to the dish. But you can skip that or use leftovers. I did not sprinkle w extra parm cheese at the end. The best thing is that serving size is pretty large at 2 cups. 


August 14, 2015
I am a terrible cook, I can barely make eggs. I made this and I blew my own mind. I ended up forgetting to stir in the cheese, however I just added it at the end and it still tasted delicious and filled me up!

WLBETH's Review

November 01, 2014
Really good and simple. I might have added more pesto than the recipe called for because I love pesto. Served with simple green salad and a nice glass of wine.

mandofan's Review

April 28, 2014
This was very good, but grilling the chicken is completely unnecessary - it adds no noticeable flavor and complicates the dish. That said, if you do grill, you should consider grilling a couple of zucchini and tossing them into the past as it is a VERY worthwhile addition. Otherwise, this works just as well with rotisserie chicken from the supermarket. (10-10-09)

Vicuska's Review

July 15, 2013
Excellent pasta dish! I also added some grilled zucchini, and I omitted the cheese from the top, and I halved the pasta in the recipe.

KellyMongini's Review

June 27, 2013
Very tasty! Added sundried tomatoes, mushrooms and broccoli and was delish! I'll definitely make this again!

Alknutson8's Review

May 11, 2013

twinsucf's Review

April 03, 2013
This is one of our family's favorite recipes! So delicious!! I don't usually grill the chicken- I bake it, sautéed it and have even used rotisserie chicken in a pinch. Also, I use skim milk and whole wheat farfalle.

Whygal's Review

August 31, 2012
I had a difficult time trying to decide how to rate this recipe. When I first read the recipe it sounded rather bland but I did make it using several of the suggestions posted by other viewers. In addition, I was making this for just my husband and me so I had to tweak the ingredient amounts. I used one chicken breast, approx 6 oz. I cooked 4 ounces of farfalle. I used olive oil rather than the butter and I only had skim milk and fat free half and half. (I did add a touch of cornstarch to the milk and half and half combo). I deleted the tomatoes and instead had my husband grill a small zucchini cut in half lengthwise and then sliced and a whole red pepper cut into bite sized pieces in the grill wok. I did follow the technique for the sauce adding the grilled chicken, vegetables and 2/3 c thawed, frozen peas. We enjoyed this pasta dish and I am going to try other vegetable combinations. The pesto (I made my own) gave the sauce a wonderful flavor.

VirginiaLaurie's Review

August 06, 2012
Delicious recipe! Next time, I will add frozen peas.