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Walnut Pesto Pasta with Chicken Meatballs

This Walnut Pesto Pasta With Chicken Meatballs is fresh and delicious. A great way to use up your extra basil for a summer weeknight pasta.
Course Dinner
Keyword Chicken, Pasta, Pesto, Walnuts
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Resting Time 25 minutes
Servings 4
Author Leona G.


  • 12 inch fry pan or Cast-Iron Skillet
  • 9x13 Sheet Pan
  • Mixing Bowls
  • Blender



  • 1 lb pasta of choice tubular or spaghetti
  • 1 cup reserved pasta water

Walnut Peso

  • 2 cup fresh basil
  • ½ cup shelled walnuts
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 3 cloves fresh garlic about 2 tbsp
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 2 lemons juiced
  • ¼ cup parmigiano-reggiano cheese grated
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp crushed red pepper

Chicken Meatballs

  • 16 oz ground chicken
  • ¼ cup grated onion
  • ¼ cup fresh basil finely chopped
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp grated garlic
  • 1 tsp grated shallot
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tbsp heavy cream
  • cup parmigiano-reggiano grated
  • ¼ cup Italian style breadcrumbs
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • ½ tsp crushed red pepper



  • Throw everything into a blender and pulse until a creamy and smooth pesto forms.

Chicken Meatballs

  • Add everything into a large mixing bowl. Use a spatula or your hands to combine the mixture. Cover with plastic and refrigerate for 25-30 minutes.
  • Preheat the oven to 425°
  • Using a tablespoon, scoop out 2 tbsp of the meat mixture and form it into a ball. Place the meatballs on a sheet pan lined with a rack or parchment paper. Bake for about 30-35 minutes, until lightly golden brown. While your meatballs are baking, boil your pasta according to the instructions, 10-15 minutes before the meatballs are done.


  • Drain your cooked pasta and pour it back into the pot. With the flame on low, add in the pasta water. Cook for 1-2 minutes. Turn the heat off and add the pesto in. Stir to combine. Top with the chicken meatballs, fresh basil and grated cheese. Enjoy!


  • You will get between 15-20 meatballs with this recipe. You can also use beef or turkey if you prefer.
  • Turn the heat off when you add your pesto in. You don't want to cook the pesto sauce, just warm it up.
  • If you don't have any walnuts, you can use pistachios, almonds or hazelnuts instead.
  • You can use whatever pasta you have on hand. Spaghetti or any tubular shape.