Nutritious Eats for Hectic Weeks - pesto pasta

Last week we had a crazy week! Our evenings were full. My husband was playing soccer and studying and I was working and training (mostly running and riding). This meant that I had to be organised for our weekly eats. To do this I dedicated one afternoon to cooking up a storm.

Monday night was FREE so I cooked up homemade pesto pasta (pasta is a ritual in our house the night before a soccer game), a Jamie Oliver chicken and vegetable soup (I just added some green beans and white quinoa to make it a more balanced meal) and chilli con carne. All of these meals can be reheated, enjoyed as lunch and frozen in portions for a later date, so they were the perfect choice for us.

The chilli con carne just needed to be served with some rice, balanced with some salad and topped with Greek yoghurt - this dish is PERFECT for busy weeks!

Being organised meant that we enjoyed nutritional meals that provided the energy we required, without the time spent in the kitchen or picking up odds and ends at the supermarket through the week.

When I posted an image of the pesto pasta on Instagram it immediately got a lot of attention so I just had to share.

This meal is quiet famous in the Boogaard house.

Remember you can always increase or decrease the different ingredients mentioned, my recipes are purely there for inspiration, so please let your taste and senses lead the way…

Chicken pesto pasta with pumpkin and sundried tomatoes

Ingredients (serves 4)

3 cups of uncooked penne or spiral pasta

1 tablespoon of olive oil plus extra for drizzling pumpkin

½ a butternut pumpkin, cut into 1cm x 1 cm cubes

400g of chicken breast, thinly sliced

1 large red onion thickly sliced

1 cup of thinly sliced mushrooms

 ½ cup of thinly sliced sundried tomatoes (or sundried tomato strips)

Baby spinach

For the pesto

2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 cup olive oil

1/2 cup pine nuts

2 garlic cloves, minced

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

Place pumpkin cubes on a tray lined with baking paper, sprinkle with drizzle with olive oil. Cook for 15-20 minutes or until soft.

Meanwhile boil water in a large saucepan and cook pasta for approximately 10-12 minutes.

Put all pesto ingredients into a food processor and mix until a paste forms.

After about 5 minutes of the pasta cooking heat oil in a pan over a medium heat then add the chicken and cook for a few minutes until starting to brown.

Add the sundried tomatoes (plus a bit of the oil from the sun dried tomatoes), onion and mushrooms and cook altogether for another 4-5 minutes until all ingredients are cooked, stirring regularly.

When the pasta is ready, drain and return back to the saucepan over a low heat. Add the chicken, pesto, baby spinach and pumpkin, heat through then remove from the heat. 


This dish is also lovely as a warm salad without the pasta or as a vegetarian option by leaving the chicken out.