Chicken Florentine Pesto Pasta

Dear chicken Florentine. I like you. I like your spinach and your cream sauce. But honestly? I don’t love you. You’re missing a little pizzaz. So, I would like to introduce you to my friend pesto pasta. You kinda need that punch from the pesto’s garlic, basil, and Parm. Now we have the makings of love. Go forth and multiply.

Chicken Florentine Pesto Pasta Recipe

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 6-8.

We've used fresh spinach in this recipe, but you could easily use frozen. Just defrost and drain.



  • 12-16 ounces dried short pasta (bowties, penne, gemelli, etc)
  • 4 chicken breast cutlets (1 1/4 to 1 1/2 pounds total)
  • Salt
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 yellow or white onion, chopped, about 1 cup
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup white wine or stock
  • 8-16 ounces of fresh spinach*, washed, long stems removed and chopped
  • Black pepper
  • 1/4 cup cream
  • 1/4 cup (or more) pesto

*To wash spinach, fill up a clean sink basin with cold water and let the spinach soak in the water. Move it around a bit to loosen any dirt. Fresh spinach is usually pretty dirty, so you may need to do a couple of soakings. Remove the spinach and shake off excess water. Lay the spinach leaves down on a clean towel and pat dry.


1 Bring a large pot of salted water (add enough salt so that the water tastes salty) to a boil. Add the dried pasta and cook until al dente.

2 While preparing the pasta, cook the chicken. Sprinkle the chicken breasts with salt, heat the olive oil in a sauté pan and brown the chicken breasts on both sides over medium-high heat. They don't need to be cooked all the way through, just browned. Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside.

3 Add the chopped onion to the pan and sauté 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally. While the onions cook, slice the chicken into strips. Put any pieces that are cooked all the way through in one pile, and put the ones that still need a little cooking in another pile.

4 When the onions are just beginning to brown, add the garlic and cook another minute. Add the white wine or stock and boil vigorously until the liquid is reduced by half.

5 Add the spinach and the undercooked pieces of chicken to the pan. Using tongs, turn them over to coat them with the juices in the pan. Continue to cook, turning and stirring often, until the spinach is wilted and the chicken cooked through, about 2 minutes.

6 Turn off the heat and add some black pepper, the pile of cooked chicken pieces and the pesto. Stir to combine. Drain the pasta put it in a large bowl. Add the cream to the saute pan and stir well to combine. Add the contents of the pan to the bowl with the pasta and mix well. Serve at once.

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Chicken Florentine Salad - from Recipe Girl
Eggs Florentine Brunch Pizza - from Stephen Cooks
Chicken Florentine Casserole - from The Savory Notebook

Showing 4 of 19 Comments

  • Easily Good Eats

    Sounds excellent. Could yogurt instead of cream work well or will it conflict with other ingredient?

    Given the wine in the dish, the yogurt might curdle. If you try it I would use a full-fat Greek yogurt. ~Elise

  • Jaime

    Any thoughts on substitutions for the nuts? We have nut allergies in our house.

    I would make your own pesto from scratch without nuts. Works fine. ~Elise

  • sheri

    This looks like the ideal recipe for my son- fast, yummy, not expensive, and made with stuff around the house. But he cooks for only one. How do you think this recipe would reheat? Could he halve it, eat one part tonight and eat the other tomorrow or the next day? Will the spinach get too smelly? I love reading your recipes and try a bunch of them.

    I reheated the leftovers in the microwave and loved them. ~Elise

  • Jennifer Anderson

    Jaime- We are also a nut allergy household, but I missed the nutty taste when I made pesto without them. I have turned to lightly salted pepitas (Dakota Gourmet brand is nut free)as a substitute. They have a light flavor that blends perfectly.

    Brilliant suggestion, thank you Jennifer! ~Elise

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