Serves 4-6
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There’s just something about the tantalising taste of the pesto sauce that gets kids (and adults) eating. The key is to add pesto sauce gradually so as not to end up with a salty dish. This chicken pesto pasta bake makes a terrific one-pan dish for the whole family.


  • 2 cups firmly packed fresh basil leaves (about 1 bunch)
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled
  • ¼ cup (40 g) pine nuts
  • ½ cup firmly packed baby spinach
  • ⅓ cup (80 ml) extra virgin olive oil
  • ¾ cup (60 g) finely grated parmesan cheese
  • 500 g penne pasta
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, extra
  • 500 g chicken thigh fillets, cut into 1 cm pieces
  • 100 g bocconcini cheese, sliced thinly

Process the basil, garlic, pine nuts and spinach in a small blender, or food processor until chopped finely. With motor operating, add oil in a thin, steady stream until combined. Stir in half the parmesan. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper


Cook pasta in a large saucepan of well-salted boiling water until just tender. Drain pasta.


Meanwhile, heat the extra oil in a large frying pan. Add the chicken; cook over high heat until golden brown and cooked through.


Preheat oven grill on high heat.


Toss pesto through the pasta and chicken in a large bowl; season to taste with salt and freshly ground  black pepper. Place pasta mixture in a large ovenproof dish; top with remaining parmesan and bocconcini. Grill for a few minutes or until cheese has melted and parmesan is golden.


Serve sprinkled with extra basil leaves, if desired.

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