Chicken Cavatappi with Chef John’s Almond-Arugula Pesto

Chef John uses almonds and arugula in his crisp, fragrant homemade pesto, but you can experiment with any nuts and greens you have on hand.

Cavatappi with chicken and vegetables and bread and lemon wedges
Prep Time:
20 mins
Cook Time:
15 mins
Total Time:
35 mins


  • 1/2 cup packed fresh arugula spinach

  • 1/3 cup raw almonds

  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

  • 4 cloves garlic

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided

  • 8 ounces cavatappi

  • 2 cups fresh sugar snap pea pods, halved on the bias

  • 1 1/2 cups shredded cooked chicken breast

  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper

  • 1/2 cup radishes, halved and thinly sliced

  • lemon wedges, for serving


  1. Bring a small saucepan of lightly salted water to a boil. Add arugula and cook until bright green, about 30 seconds. Transfer arugula to a bowl of ice water; let cool 1 to 2 minutes. Drain and squeeze to remove excess moisture.

  2. For pesto, pulse arugula, almonds, oil, garlic, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a mini blender or food processor, scraping down sides as needed, until a coarse purée forms.

  3. Meanwhile, bring a large saucepan of lightly salted water to a boil. Add cavatappi and cook until al dente according to package directions, 9 to 11 minutes. Add pea pods during the last 2 minutes of cooking. Drain pasta and pea pods.

  4. Return to saucepan and toss with pesto and chicken. Season with remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and the pepper. Transfer to a serving dish and top with radishes. Serve with lemon wedges.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

495 Calories
26g Fat
48g Carbs
26g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 4
Calories 495
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 26g 33%
Saturated Fat 4g 18%
Cholesterol 45mg 15%
Sodium 359mg 16%
Total Carbohydrate 48g 17%
Dietary Fiber 10g 36%
Total Sugars 12g
Protein 26g
Vitamin C 140mg 698%
Calcium 151mg 12%
Iron 5mg 27%
Potassium 836mg 18%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

** Nutrient information is not available for all ingredients. Amount is based on available nutrient data.

(-) Information is not currently available for this nutrient. If you are following a medically restrictive diet, please consult your doctor or registered dietitian before preparing this recipe for personal consumption.

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