Almond & Basil Pesto Chicken Spaghetti

by Kiran on May 22, 2012 · 28 comments

in Entree, Lunch/Dinner, Pasta

Good morning 🙂

The coffee is hot, breakfast is ready and stomach is growling. Instead, I’d rather open up and discuss about my aversions towards sharp stinky cheeses.

It seems impossible to wrap my head around the idea of loving aged cheeses.

As a food blogger, it’s my responsibility to disclose the fact that I just cannot be around strong cheeses. Especially parmesan, blue and feta cheese.

Shocking, but this is a solemn truth.

I feel like we are almost “missing” out on everyone’s favorite. For example, whenever we dine out, the waiter usually offer shavings of parmesan cheese and we both would literally say this at the same time, almost mimicking the tone of frustration:


Why oh why can’t we bring ourselves to love sharp cheeses as much as you do?

While prepping for pesto, I thought about the possibilites of using almonds to pretend it’s parmesan cheese. It’s an entirely different palate, but definitely served our purpose.

It’s creamy, decadent and definitely tasted pesto-ish.

You’ve got to try this recipe to believe it 🙂

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  • 8 oz whole wheat spaghetti
  • 1 medium chicken breast, sliced on an angle
  • 2 pinches of salt + black pepper
  • 1/3 cup raw almonds, soaked in hot water
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1.5 cup packed fresh basil leaves
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp lemon zest
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup chicken broth/pasta water
  • 1/4 cup cream


  1. Cook spaghetti as per instructions with some boiling, salted water. Drain al-dente spaghetti. Set aside.
  2. Soak raw almonds in some hot water for a minimum of 30 minutes.
  3. In a blender or food processor, add soaked raw almonds, basil leaves, cloves of garlic, a pinch of salt and black pepper. Drizzle in two tablespoons of olive oil and pulse until smooth. Add more olive oil (if needed) for a smoother pesto texture.
  4. In a separate bowl, add sliced chicken breast and sprinkle it with some salt and black pepper.
  5. Heat a large non-stick skillet on medium-high. Add two tablespoons of olive oil. Once oil is heated, add chicken slices and cook for a few minutes on each side until slightly browned and cooked through. Drain meat on a paper towel.
  6. In the same non-stick skillet on medium heat, add pesto, chicken broth and cream. Stir everything to combine and thicken.
  7. Return cooked spaghetti and sliced chicken into the skillet. Stir to coat it all with pesto cream.
  8. Sprinkle lemon zest and juice. Stir everything to combine and taste for seasonings.
  9. Serve immediately topped with chopped almonds and fresh micro greens.


Occasionally,  we do indulge in regular cheeses such as paneer, mozarella, monterey jack, swiss and anything that isn’t aged for too long or has stuff growing in ’em.

Are you a huge fan of CHEESE? What’s your favorite? I’ve yet to try goat milk cheese. Wish me luck 😉


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Comments on this entry are closed.

1 Kathryn May 22, 2012 at 1:13 PM

I can’t imagine a world without parmesan cheese! Almonds are a great substitute in pesto though, just creamy enough but really letting the other flavours shine through.
Kathryn recently posted..rhubarb and white chocolate ice cream

2 Tanvi@SinfullySpicy May 22, 2012 at 1:43 PM

This is an incredibly healthy recipe with beautiful & refreshing flavors. I m not a big fan of cheese (except paneer (if that qualifies)), I dont mind few bits here & there in my meals but I really dont understand the hype over it.
Tanvi@SinfullySpicy recently posted..Nimbu Ka Achaar – No Oil Indian Lime Pickle

3 Rosa May 22, 2012 at 1:50 PM

Oh my lord, that looks and sounds so good! A fantastic pasta dish.

Great clicks!



4 katie May 22, 2012 at 2:37 PM

yum! I love the idea of making an almond/basil pesto!
katie recently posted..Puff Pastry w/ Strawberries & Cream

5 Quick Asian Recipes - Ashish Negi May 22, 2012 at 3:39 PM

I love the recipe and the pictures. The clicks are awesome 🙂

6 Margarita May 22, 2012 at 5:50 PM

I don’t blame you for your aversion to stinky cheese. Don’t get me wrong, I love stinky cheese, but I totally understand why some people don’t like it as much. A few of my favorites that you might like are Fontina, Brie, and Gruyere. Have you ever tried those? This looks like a wonderful dish… I like the amount of basil and lemon juice in it! My kind of pasta!
Margarita recently posted..Chocolate Chip Banana Bread Cookies

7 Ira Rodrigues May 23, 2012 at 1:05 AM

My favorite is always mozzarella cheese.
I never try making spaghetti with almond, but i dont mind to give it a try. its unique recipe Kiran!
Ira Rodrigues recently posted..Coconut Banana, Balinese Pisang Rai

8 chinmayie @ love food eat May 23, 2012 at 6:01 AM

Though I can’t enjoy all the cheeses I LOVE parmesan, cheddar, gouda, feta etc… It’s not something i grew up on so it’s accuired much later on in life. I am sure your pesto tastes great without it 🙂
chinmayie @ love food eat recently posted..Switching to Organic Food, Thoughts, Reasons & Photos

9 Preeti Nautiyal May 23, 2012 at 7:00 AM

Wow looks yummy Kiran, I had used pineseeds instead of almonds with basil and a little feta cheese …..can we replace the chiken with anything vegetarian…by the way I love your blog..(-:

10 the wicked noodle May 23, 2012 at 8:01 AM

This looks so good and so healthy, too!!
the wicked noodle recently roasted chile & garlic chicken burgers {plus a giveaway!}

11 Asmita May 23, 2012 at 10:31 AM

What a perfect meal! I Love this pasta dish,Kiran.
Asmita recently posted..Vanilla Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

12 Deeps @ Naughty Curry May 24, 2012 at 9:17 AM

im not a fan of blue cheese, but i do love parmesan! thats a great looking pesto
Deeps @ Naughty Curry recently posted..Mango Mousse Cake- to celebrate a birthday

13 Sylvie @ Gourmande in the Kitchen May 25, 2012 at 5:46 AM

Oh my gosh, I love cheese. I find a way to throw it into almost everything I make and feta happens to be one of my favorites! Have you tried a sheep’s milk feta before? They tend to be smooth and creamy in flavor. Good luck with goat cheese, it’s not strong but it has a tang!
Sylvie @ Gourmande in the Kitchen recently posted..Pomegrante, Blueberry, Matcha Tea Slushy | An Antioxidant Punch

14 Richa@HobbyandMore May 25, 2012 at 5:15 PM

All of my pesto has almonds or cashew:) i cant stand cheese too for a completely different reason:)
Richa@HobbyandMore recently posted..Tempeh Tikka Masala with Kale. Vegan Glutenfree

15 myfudo May 26, 2012 at 1:33 AM

This is another great recipe. Thanks! Gouda and Edam are household favorites…My daughter loves cheese so much. She has slices every meal. I find it good because i can cut down on her milk intake.
myfudo recently posted..easy desserts & recipes: cream filled chocolate & orange shortbread cookies

16 Ashley - Baker by Nature May 26, 2012 at 7:34 PM

I love me some stinky stink stank cheese, but this pasta looks just as decadent minus it!
Ashley – Baker by Nature recently posted..Coconut Citrus Cake

17 Kristi Rimkus May 28, 2012 at 11:36 PM

I have to admit I’m one of those people that loves stinky cheese, but I wouldn’t feel the need to add Parm to this delicious recipe.
Kristi Rimkus recently posted..A Delectable Guest Post from Dave Harrison – Poached Herb and Lemon Salmon

18 mycookinghut May 29, 2012 at 9:45 AM

Yum yum, looks really good! Looks simple to make for a stunning end result.
mycookinghut recently posted..Lemongrass & Ginger – Vibrant Asian Recipes Video Promo

19 dassana May 29, 2012 at 2:31 PM

i am not a big fan of cheese either. i always make pesto with almonds and without cheese and just love it this way.
dassana recently posted..punjabi mooli ki bhurji – spicy sauted white radish

20 Ansh May 29, 2012 at 3:02 PM

I love me some Stinkies!! But I do understand why someone may not like a blue cheese or a feta or any other cheese. I must compliment you for achieving a great looking dish with some aromatic flavors!
Ansh recently posted..Nimbu Paratha and Parathewali Gali

21 Honey What's Cooking May 30, 2012 at 11:37 AM

oh Kiran.. this post definitely resonated with me. The only cheese I can handle on your list is parmesan, I love it. It was definitely an acquired taste because I didn’t love it in the beginning. Goat and blue cheese are both repulsive to me. And I recently picked up Pecorino Romano and that was so gross, I tossed $7 bucks straight into the garbage. I’m trying to like Feta.. I can handle it, don’t love it.
You had me fooled on the shredded almonds.. very creative I must say. 🙂
Honey What’s Cooking recently posted..Sights & Attractions | Barcelona, Spain

22 Katie {Epicurean Mom Blog} May 31, 2012 at 1:06 AM

Mmmmmmmm, cheese is my weakness! I could give up sweets, meat, bread and alcohol (ok, maybe not that!) 😉 but definitely not cheese! This looks absolutely stunning Kiran!
Katie {Epicurean Mom Blog} recently posted..Amaretto Apple Streusel Cupcakes

23 Sophie June 3, 2012 at 4:28 PM

I already knows that this wcompletely works! I can understand you: this is so much better! Your version looks like the real deal! Delightful food!
Sophie recently posted..Lemon thyme & garlic perfumed roasted vegetables & a garden update!

24 Rikki June 3, 2012 at 10:05 PM

I really, really loves this. I just made a ton of pesto with basil from the garden, and this is such a unique take on it. Your styling is beautiful too, it looks incredible! [:
Rikki recently posted..Making Basil Lemonade

25 Simply Life June 4, 2012 at 4:26 PM

I have tons of fresh basil that would be perfect in this!

26 Kitchen Belleicious June 5, 2012 at 9:32 PM

i think pesto is one of the most versatile sauces because you can use it in pasta, as a marinade, as a binder and even spread it over toast with some cheese! This dish is hands down amazing!

27 Jenny @ BAKE June 12, 2012 at 5:29 AM

I’m getting there with strong cheese, I tried blue cheese in a chocolate last week and it worked surprisingly well! This dish looks delicious
Jenny @ BAKE recently posted..Caveman Cookies

28 Jen L | Tartine and Apron Strings July 18, 2012 at 10:42 AM

O.M.G.!!! I want this for lunch now! In fact, I have all the ingredients in my pantry / fridge, so I might just make this (and perhaps blog about it, too)! Thanks for the inspiration!
Jen L | Tartine and Apron Strings recently posted..Galbi (Korean BBQ Beef Short Ribs) + School Lunch Rant

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