Pesto Pasta Chicken (reduced salt)

A healthier version of the traditional Italian pesto recipe, By Nutritionists from Daley Nutrition

Pesto Pasta Chicken Recipe (cooking time 20mins)

This recipe is an essential dish in our house, it is quick easy and packs a lot of taste and nutrition. There are tonnes of pesto sauce variations you can buy in the supermarkets, most of them are loaded with sugar and salt. Jamie Oliver’s pesto tends to have the least amount of salt (sodium) in them and is a big winner in this category, which is why we include it in our pesto pasta chicken recipe.

Is pesto good for you?

This depends very much on the ingredients in the pesto you use. If you are a garden wiz and can grow your own ingredients for pesto then you know exactly what is going into the mix. However with 90% of pesto’s in the supermarkets they tend to be high in salt and poor quality oils such as sunflower oils. Jaime Oliver’s pesto is higher in price than most pesto’s but in this case you get what you pay for. In his ingredients it includes extra virgin olive oil, which is quite heat resistant and less likely to change into trans fat, but also he uses a lot less salt than other brands.

Is brown pasta better for you than white pasta?

Absolutely! This is a no brainer. Brown pasta contains more of the whole grain, which means it has a higher protein, fibre and B-Vitamin content. Protein and fibre help us to feel fuller for long and b-vitamins help with energy metabolism in our cells, enabling us to have more energy throughout the day. In white pasta a lot of the b-vitamins are lost due to the milling process and high temperatures used to process, add this to the low fibre content and you have a high glycemic index food item that can spike insulin levels and encourage weight gain. If you are looking for a good pasta alternative, then try turning zucchini into pasta noodles and using them create a lower calorie pesto pasta chicken recipe.

Top Tip for cooking pasta:

  1. Always wash the pasta in boiling water, before and after to reduce excess starch and clean.
  2. Place a wooden spoon over the pasta pan when cooking to stop the pasta water from boiling over.

pesto pasta chicken

Ingredients (serves 3 people)

  • 1 chicken breast
  • 1 large capsicum (any colour)
  • 1 red onion
  • 100g of pumpkin
  • 1 large broccoli (stem included)
  • 20 almonds
  • 1.5 cups of pasta (wholemeal)
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 tbsp of pesto from a jar (Jaime Oliver’s only)
  • 1 tsp of cracked pepper
  • 2 tsp of olive oil
  • 1 tsp of dried basil


  • Handful of fresh basil (optional)
  • 3 tsps of low fat grated cheese
  • 3 dollops of plain yogurt


  1. Put the pasta in a saucepan and heat medium heat to start.
  2. Chop the vegetables up and almonds then cook in a pan with 2 tsp of olive oil (10mins) then add 1 tsp of dried basil
  3. Add the chicken breast and cook till it’s slightly brown
  4. Add the pesto
  5. Drain pasta and add into the pan with the veg and chicken
  6. Serve with yogurt, fresh basil and cheese on top

Pesto Pasta Chicken Nutrition (per person)

  • 12g of fat
  • 36 of protein
  • 7g of sugar
  • 212mg of sodium
  • 512 kcal

Pesto Pasta Chicken Recipe
Posted by Luke Daley, Registered Nutritionist, Msc, BSc (Hons)
Director and Founder of Daley Nutrition


A little about us….Daley Nutrition is a community nutrition team based in Melbourne Victoria, we run a range of nutrition based programs such as corporate wellness programs and cooking demonstrations in Australia to raise people’s awareness of what they are eating and empower them to change certain eating habits. We work with not for profit organisations such as local councils, Diabetes Australia & Nutrition Australia to create a healthy eating environment for children and adults.

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