Kally's Pesto Pasta with Tomatoes and Chicken

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Dinner, Main Course American/Italian
By Kelly Djalali Serves: 4
Prep Time: 10 Minutes Cooking Time: 15-20 Minutes Total Time: ~30 Minutes

Fresh pesto coats fusilli pasta with cherry tomatoes and crispy baked chicken nuggets. An easy recipe for an ultra-comforting bowl of pasta.


  • 1 lb. Frozen Chicken Nuggets
  • 1 lb. Fusilli Pasta
  • 2 tbsp. Diamond Kosher Salt (for pasta water) or 1.5 tbsp. Morton's Kosher Salt or 2-3 tsp. Table Salt
  • 1 cup Halved Cherry or Grape Tomatoes
  • 1 cup Pesto
  • Parmesan Cheese, for garnish
  • Flaky Finishing Salt, for garnish
  • Black Pepper, for garnish



If you're on team chicken nugget, get the oven preheating and get 4 quarts of water set to boil for the pasta. Bake the chicken nuggets and when they are halfway done (at about minute 10), add the kosher salt and then the pasta to the boiling water.


Boil the pasta for about 8 minutes until al dente, stir occasionally.


Scoop out 1 cup of the pasta water and set aside, then drain the noodles. By now the chicken nuggets should be ready. Because they're still super hot, I use my kitchen shears to cut the nuggets in half.


In the same pot we used to boil the pasta, pour the pasta back into the pot and set the burner to low. Add the pesto to the pasta and pour about half of the pasta water in, and vigorously stir. Use as much more pasta water as needed and keep stirring to create a creamy pesto sauce that coats all the pasta.


Add the halved chicken nuggets and fold them into the pesto pasta.


Cut the heat and fold in the tomatoes.


Scoop a portion into a wide shallow bowl and top with parmesan cheese, flaky finishing salt and black pepper.


Instead of nuggets, you can use 1-2 cups leftover chicken or shredded rotisserie chicken, if you prefer.