Slow Cooker Pesto Chicken Pasta

Slow cooker pesto chicken pasta
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It can be a challenge to find a dinner recipe that the whole family will enjoy. Plus, if you want it to be easy to prepare, you may have even less options. Luckily this slow cooker recipe for pesto chicken pasta achieves both! It was super simple to get everything ready for the crockpot – no searing of meat, no pre-cooking anything. I used my own homemade pesto and I’ve shared the recipe below. If you want to speed things up even further, just use jarred.

I cannot eat nuts and most prepared pesto is made with some form of nut, but mine is made with sunflower seeds. When my basil plants are going crazy in the middle of the summer or into fall, I usually make a double batch (sometimes even quadruple depending on how much the basil grew) of my pesto and freeze it to use throughout the year. I’m almost out of pesto now, but it has lasted quite some time. It’s a very easy weeknight meal to thaw out the cubes of frozen pesto and toss it with pasta. This recipe takes the ease to a new level since everything cooks in the crockpot.

The chicken came out so tender that I barely had to touch it before it fell apart. I know your whole family will enjoy this slow cooker recipe for pesto chicken pasta and you’ll love just how easy it is to throw together!

Slow Cooker Pesto Chicken Pasta

Adapted from The Magical Slow Cooker

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ pounds chicken breasts
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup homemade pesto (recipe below; you can also use jarred)
  • Juice from half a lemon
  • ¼ cup salted butter, cut into slices
  • 1 pound rotini, cooked and drained
  • ½ cup Pecorino or Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella
  • ½ teaspoon Italian seasoning

Directions:

  1. Add the chicken to the slow cooker and sprinkle with kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste. Spread pesto over the chicken, squeeze the lemon juice over everything then scatter butter slices across the top.
  2. Cover and cook on low for 5-6 hours – do not open the lid during the cook time!
  3. Using two forks, shred the chicken. Add in the cooked pasta and pecorino cheese and stir until everything is evenly coated.
  4. Scatter the mozzarella cheese on top followed by the Italian seasoning. Replace the cover and cook for an additional 15 minutes or so, or until the cheese is melted.

 

Homemade Nut Free Pesto

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups basil, packed
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • ½ cup roasted salted sunflower seeds
  • 1 garlic clove (optional)
  • ¼ cup pecorino or parmesan cheese, grated (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Mix all ingredients except salt and pepper in a food processor. Season to taste with salt and pepper but be sure to taste before adding salt, the sunflower seeds are salted already!
  2. Adjust thickness to taste – can add more lemon juice, oil, water if it’s too thick.
  3. This recipe can be doubled and fits in my food processor.
  4. Storage: place dollops in an ice cube tray.  When solid, empty into freezer bag and keep in freezer.  Can also fill up Ball jars and freeze or refrigerate.  Coloration will happen when the pesto comes into contact with air, but it will still taste fine.
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