Lemon-Garlic Chicken Penne with Pesto and Spinach


Fresh pesto brilliantly compliments the lemon and garlic flavors of this juicy chicken dinner.

Prep Time:
30 mins
Additional Time:
45 mins
Total Time:
1 hr 15 mins
4 servings


  • 1 tablespoon finely shredded lemon peel

  • ¼ cup lemon juice

  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic (12 cloves)

  • 1 ¼ pounds bone-in chicken breast halves, skinned

  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

  • teaspoon salt

  • 1 ¼ cups whole wheat penne pasta

  • ¼ cup dried tomatoes (not oil-packed)

  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts

  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves (about 1-3/4 ounces)

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic (6 cloves)

  • ¼ cup reduced-sodium chicken broth

  • 1 (9 ounce) package baby spinach

  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper

  • teaspoon salt

  • 4 teaspoons grated Parmesan cheese


  1. For marinade, in a small bowl, combine lemon peel, lemon juice and 2 tablespoons garlic. Place chicken in a resealable plastic bag. Pour marinade over chicken. Seal bag and turn to coat chicken. Marinate in refrigerator for 30 minutes, turning bag occasionally.

  2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Drain chicken and discard marinade. Sprinkle chicken with black pepper and 1/8 teaspoon salt. Place chicken in a foil-lined shallow roasting pan. Roast for 40 minutes or until an instant-read thermometer inserted into inside thigh muscle registers 165 degrees F. Allow to cool before removing meat from the bone and shred or cut into bite-size pieces. Transfer to an airtight freezer container. Cover and seal.

  3. To serve, cook pasta according to package directions; drain. Meanwhile, place dried tomatoes in a small bowl; pour enough hot water over tomatoes to cover and let stand until tomatoes are softened. Cut softened tomatoes into thin bite-size strips.

  4. For pesto, in a small skillet, cook pine nuts over medium heat about 3 minutes or until toasted, stirring often; set aside to cool. In a food processor, combine basil, pine nuts, oil, 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese and 1 tablespoon garlic. Cover and process until smooth.

  5. In a large skillet, heat broth over medium heat until boiling. Add spinach; cook and stir about 1 minute or until spinach starts to wilt. Add chicken, crushed red pepper and 1/8 teaspoon salt. Cook about 2 minutes more or until spinach is completely wilted. Stir in cooked pasta, pesto, and dried tomatoes. Cook about 5 minutes or until chicken is heated through (165 degrees F). Sprinkle with 4 teaspoons Parmesan cheese.


To make ahead: Freeze marinated chicken for up to 1 month. A day before serving, place frozen chicken in refrigerator to thaw. Continue preparing recipe at step 3.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

349 Calories
11g Fat
27g Carbs
35g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 4
Serving Size 1 serving
Calories 349
% Daily Value *
Total Carbohydrate 27g 10%
Dietary Fiber 3g 10%
Total Sugars 2g
Protein 35g 70%
Total Fat 11g 15%
Saturated Fat 2g 12%
Cholesterol 76mg 25%
Vitamin A 5342IU 107%
Vitamin C 34mg 38%
Folate 25mcg 6%
Sodium 433mg 19%
Calcium 186mg 14%
Iron 5mg 28%
Magnesium 60mg 14%
Potassium 580mg 12%

Nutrition information is calculated by a registered dietitian using an ingredient database but should be considered an estimate.

* Daily Values (DVs) are the recommended amounts of nutrients to consume each day. Percent Daily Value (%DV) found on nutrition labels tells you how much a serving of a particular food or recipe contributes to each of those total recommended amounts. Per the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the daily value is based on a standard 2,000 calorie diet. Depending on your calorie needs or if you have a health condition, you may need more or less of particular nutrients. (For example, it’s recommended that people following a heart-healthy diet eat less sodium on a daily basis compared to those following a standard diet.)

(-) Information is not currently available for this nutrient. If you are following a special diet for medical reasons, be sure to consult with your primary care provider or a registered dietitian to better understand your personal nutrition needs.

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