LEMON CHICKEN PASTA IS SUMMER ON A PLATE YOU WILL WANT TO DEVOUR YEAR ROUND!
This Lemon Chicken Pasta is bursting with tender, juicy lemon basil chicken and garlic roasted vegetables tossed with lemon linguine, Parmesan, fresh herbs and garlic infused olive oil. It’s a dance of bright, fresh lemon, kicking garlic and nutty Parmesan you will crave for days. This Lemon Chicken Pasta is quick and easy once your chicken has marinated and completely customizable. You can customize the vegetables, add bacon, more cheese or make it creamy. The possibilities are endless!
Lemon Chicken Pasta Recipe
This Lemon Chicken Pasta is a reboot of on old favorite recipe that was in need of some photo TLC. After blogging for 5 years, there are some AMAZING recipes that get overlooked by readers because the photos don’t do them justice. So, after making this Lemon Chicken Pasta several times this summer, I thought I should republish it so YOU can all enjoy it as well. Here are the highlights:
If you love summer veggies, you are in for a treat with this Lemon Chicken Pasta; and if you don’t love them, this recipe is the closest you will get. The zucchini, asparagus and tomatoes are tossed in olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper and then roasted until crisp-tender and the tomatoes are juicy, ready-to-burst, sweet perfection. Is there anything better than roasted tomatoes?! You can add them to practically anything and call it a day.
The seasoned vegetables and garlic infused olive oil are then tossed with the linguine (or pasta of choice) along with fresh lemon juice, sautéed red onion, fresh oregano, thyme, parsley and basil. There is so much fresh, garden flavor going on in this Lemon Chicken Pasta, you will feel bright and light before, during and after eating it!
The roasted vegetables, lemon and herb linguine is all topped with Lemon Basil Marinated Chicken. Incredibly moist, tender and saturated with lemon basil goodness that with every forkful your eyelids will automatically be drawn shut so you can savor the juicy marinated flavor. Dramatic? No. Accurate? Yes!
I love marinating chicken because it is the easiest way to tenderize chicken and infuse otherwise boring chicken with tons of flavor – and in this case, this pasta with tons of flavor.
Ingredients for Lemon Chicken Pasta
The ingredients for this Lemon Chicken Pasta are very straightforward. You will need:
- Chicken: is crazy juicy from an easy marinade of olive oil, lemon juice, basil, oregano, garlic, onion, ground mustard and red pepper flakes. I actually use garlic powder and onion powder in the Lemon Herb Chicken marinade because they are more potent and distribute unevenly
- Oil: you will want to use a quality extra virgin olive oil for this Lemon Chicken Pasta because it envelops the pasta and is a major part of the flavor profile. EVVO is made by grinding olives into a paste then pressing them to extract the oils, resulting in a grassy, peppery, slightly fruity flavor. Other “olive oils” are neutral in flavor because they are cold-pressed oil blended with a bit of premium EVOO.
- Garlic: is another major player in this Lemon Chicken Pasta. I use 4 garlic cloves but you can use more or less to taste.
- Lemon juice: you can use more or less to taste. You may want to start with less and add more depending on how strong your lemon juice is and your lemon love. You may also use the lemon zest for even more lemon flavor – but taste first.
- Veggies: red onion, cherry tomatoes, zucchini and asparagus are a match made in heaven.
- Salt and Pepper: elevate all of the flavors. If you feel like the pasts is missing something at the end of cooking – simple season with additional salt and pepper.
- Pasta: truth be told, I have only made this Lemon Chicken Pasta with linguine and thin spaghetti because I love the twirling al dente texture and how their thinner shapes allow for more surface area to be enveloped in garlicky olive oil bliss but I am assuming it would work with other shapes as well such as cellentani, orecchiette, penne, rigatoni, etc.
- Herbs: this Lemon Chicken Pasta is infused with basil, parsley, oregano and thyme. You may substitute the fresh thyme and oregano for dried because they are small amounts, but I highly suggest fresh parsley and basil.
- Parmesan cheese: use freshly grated Parmesan for the best flavor and for its superior melting ability. The green jar Parmesan has a time and place – and its not in this Lemon Chicken Pasta.
- Bacon: this is optional but I LOVE the crispy addition of bacon in this pasta. If using bacon, I suggest thick cut bacon so its texture holds up in the pasta.
WHAT CUT OF CHICKEN FOR LEMON HERB CHICKEN?
I know many of you are going to ask if you can use chicken thighs instead of chicken breasts for this Lemon Chicken Pasta – and the answer is yes! I chose chicken breasts because they are leaner but chicken thighs are inherently juicier and reheat better. You can also use this lemon herb marinade on shrimp, salmon, pork and steak – it makes EVERYTHING better!
CAN I ADD OTHER VEGGIES TO LEMON CHICKEN PASTA?
I chose tomatoes, zucchini and asparagus for this Lemon Chicken Pasta because they pair beautifully together and also have the same roasting times. That being said, feel free to customize the veggies with your favs, such as mushrooms, artichokes, bell peppers, peas, etc. but be aware of cooking times. If you are using longer cooking veggies such as broccoli, you will want to start roasting them before you add the rest of the veggies.
Other veggie ideas include:
- bell peppers
- sun-dried tomatoes
DO I HAVE TO USE FRESH LEMON IN THIS LEMON CHICKEN PASTA?
Fresh lemon juice is s always recommend but you can certainly use bottled if that’s what you have on hand.
BENEFITS OF FRESH LEMON JUICE:
- Fresh lemon juice contains significantly more vitamin C than bottled lemon juice.
- Boasts a brighter, tangier flavor.
- You also get lemon zest! Lemon zest can be used to add a more concentrated flavor or it is great in salad dressings, baked goods, desserts, pasta, veggies, etc.
- You also get the lemon peel! Lemon peels can be used to clean sinks, bathtubs and hard water stains on shower doors, to clean stainless steel, remove grease stains, clean coffee pots, and to refresh and sanitize cutting boards. Give me all the lemons!
If you have a lot of lemons that are going to spoil before you get to enjoy their juice, juice the lemons and freeze the juice in 1 tablespoon increments in an ice tray. Once frozen, you can remove the ice cubes to plastic bags, label and store in the freezer.
HOW TO MAKE LEMON CHICKEN PASTA
STEP 1: MARINATE CHICKEN
- Place chicken inside a freezer bag and pound chicken thin with a meat mallet or side of a can.
- Whisk marinade ingredients together and add to chicken.
- Marinate chicken for 4 hours up to overnight, occasionally flipping bag over.
STEP 2: ROAST VEGETABLES
- Add zucchini, tomatoes, asparagus, garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper to baking sheet and toss to combine. Line vegetables on a baking sheet in a single layer. There will be a generous amount of oil – this will transfer to the pasta later.
- Roast for 12-15 minutes or until asparagus is crisp-tender.
STEP 3: COOK PASTA
- Cook pasta of choice al dente in generously salted water. This means the pasta still has a little bite. You don’t want mushy pasta!
- Reserve 1 cup pasta water before draining.
- Add pasta to a very large mixing bowl or pot so you can easily toss all of the ingredients together.
- If your pasta is finished cooking before the sauce is complete then toss it with a little olive oil to prevent it from sticking together.
STEP 4: COOK CHICKEN
- You can cook the chicken on the stove or on the grill. I’ve included instructions for both methods in the chicken recipe.
- Once the chicken is finished cooking, let it rest 5 minutes before slicing or chopping.
STEP 5: ASSEMBLE LEMON CHICKEN PASTA
- Add red onion to the same skillet chicken was cooked in (add additional olive oil if necessary). Sauté onions over medium heat until soft and translucent, approximately 5 minutes. Note: I tried roasting the red onions with the other veggies and they were not soft enough by the time the rest of the veggies were done.
- Add red onion to the cooked pasta, along with thyme, oregano, parsley, basil, lemon juice, and roasted vegetables. Toss to combine.
- Add reserved pasta water (a little at a time) to reach desired consistency. Add desired amount of Parmesan (the more the better!) Taste and add additional salt and pepper, and red pepper if desired.
LEMON CHICKEN PASTA VARIATIONS
This Lemon Chicken Pasta is fabulous as written, but it also serves as a great spring board for a lot of variations. In fact, I used it for the springboard for my Caprese Chicken Pasta with Roasted Veggies.
- Make It Creamy! This Lemon Chicken Pasta is delicious in its garlic olive oil sauce OR you can it a creamy garlic sauce by adding some heavy cream, ricotta, crème fresh, mascarpone, sour cream or Greek Yogurt. I’ve even added leftover Alfredo sauce which was excellent.
- Different Chicken: You can swap out the chicken with any other favorite chicken marinades such as balsamic or Greek.
- Shrimp: You can use the same lemon herb chicken marinade on shrimp but only marinate 30 minutes. Don’t marinate any longer or the shrimp can become rubbery.
- Salmon: Use the same marinade on salmon and marinate for 30-60 minutes.
- Turkey Sausage: Use your favorite turkey sausage but make sure it has flavor!
- Veggies: Feel free to customize the veggies with your favs, such as mushrooms, artichokes, bell peppers, peas, etc. but be aware of cooking times.
- Non-Pasta: You can serve this Lemon Chicken Pasta with any pasta or NON pasta! Try zucchini noodles, spaghetti squash, rice, cauliflower rice, farro, couscous, etc.
HELPFUL TIPS LEMON CHICKEN PASTA
Lemon Herb Chicken is super easy to make! But here are a few tips and tricks to ensure the BEST chicken pasta every time:
- Pound the chicken to an even thickness. This not only helps the chicken cook more evenly but tenderizes it as well. If you don’t have a meat mallet, you can use the side of a can. I place my chicken in the ziploc bag I’m going to marinate it in for convenience.
- Don’t marinate too long. The marinade for this Lemon Chicken Pasta is highly acidic so the chicken shouldn’t be marinated longer than 12 hours.
- There will be a generous amount of olive oil. Don’t be worried about what seems like a lot of olive oil for the veggies. This olive oil gets infused with garlic as it roast the veggies and will all get added to the pasta.
- Thicker zucchini. Slice zucchini on the thicker side so it doesn’t cook too quickly.
- Use asparagus as a gauge. Base the doneness of the vegetables on the asparagus as the tomatoes and zucchini have a wider range in which they are enjoyable whereas overcooked asparagus are sad.
- Bring chicken to room temperature before cooking. You always want to let chicken sit at room temperature for 15-30 minutes before cooking. Room temperature chicken cooks more quickly and evenly so you aren’t left with an overcooked exterior and cold interior.
- Don’t overcook chicken. If you’ve been following me for long, you know I highly recommend a meat thermometer so you can cook your chicken perfectly. Over-cooked chicken means dry chicken.
- Cream or butter option. Reserved pasta water is used at the end to thin the pasta and to create the garlic olive oil sauce. If you want to get fun and flirty, you can use a little melted butter or heavy cream instead or in combination with reserved pasta water.
- Make spicy Lemon Chicken Pasta. I like a little kick to my pasta so I’ll often add additional red pepper flakes at the end of cooking. Just taste first and make the call. You can also go less fiery with additional black pepper.
- Up the lemon flavor. If you would like a stronger lemon flavor, you can either add additional lemon juice or I recommend the zest of one lemon, just make sure to not get the white pith as it is bitter instead of tangy.
- Extra herb solution. If you have extra fresh herbs, mix them with some softened butter to create a herb butter spread.
- Half recipe. This Lemon Chicken Pasta makes A LOT. If you don’t like leftovers, you may wish to halve the recipe.
WHAT TO SERVE WITH LEMON CHICKEN PASTA?
This Lemon Chicken Pasta doesn’t need much because it includes a protein, veggies and carbs all in one pot! Still, it is delicious with:
- Garlic Parmesan Butter Breadsticks or Soft and Fluffy Dinner Rolls
- A big green salad, Strawberry Spinach Salad, Berry Spinach Salad or Wedge Salad with Blue Cheese Ranch
- Fruit Salad with Honey Lime Vinaigrette or Berry Salad in Honey Mascarpone
IS LEMON HERB CHICKEN HEALTHY?
Yes! This Lemon Herb Chicken uses lean chicken breasts without heavy cream or bad-for-you ingredients – all you get is flavorful chicken and nutritious veggies that’s guilt free! Of course, if you are watching your carbs, the pasta should be eaten in moderation or you can use low carb pasta, zoodles, or spaghetti squash.
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