Cilantro lovers will love this copycat Guru’s Cilantro Lime Pesto Chicken Pasta. It’s fresh, zesty, and can be made easily with simple ingredients.
This copycat Guru’s Cilantro Lime Pesto and Chicken Pasta recipe is so fresh and light. Basically, it’s a simple pasta and chicken dish elevated by a fresh cilantro lime pesto. The tart lime juice in the pesto pairs so nicely with the cilantro. Plus, the cilantro lime pesto uses almonds for a simple, easy, and inexpensive sauce. It’s also a great way to use up extra cilantro.
Inspiration for Copycat Guru’s Cilantro-Lime Pesto Pasta
Guru’s is a hip cafe located in downtown Provo, Utah. Back in the day, my friend, Jason and I would go there almost every Friday night because they featured live musicians for free. We loved listening to music from some of our favorite bands (especially Allred). In addition to the music, Jason loved the sweet potato fries, and I loved their Cilantro Lime Pesto Chicken Pasta. It was our thing, and we loved it!
Eventually, Guru’s became more and more popular, and we had to fight for a table. (Seems like we weren’t the only ones loving the cozy music and amazing food.) Plus, life happens, and Jason and I went our different ways. However, I treasure those memories, and I’m so grateful for that time in my life.
To my surprise, Guru’s was featured on an episode of The Best Of on Food Network. Even better, they shared their recipe for Cilantro Lime Pesto Pasta. I adapted the recipe slightly, and I love making it every now and then. Eating this dish always brings back those memories.
Cilantro Lime Pesto Chicken Pasta Ingredients
One of the things I love most about using a cilantro pesto is it is usually less expensive to make than a basil and pine nut pesto. Instead of pine nuts, this cilantro pesto is made with toasted almonds. It’s also a great recipe if you have an abundance of cilantro and you need to use it before it goes bad.
In additional to fresh cilantro, the pesto is made with olive oil, chicken broth, toasted almonds, lime juice, garlic, and Asiago cheese. If you don’t have access to Asiago cheese, you can use Parmesan cheese. If you use Parmesan cheese, the pesto will be milder tasting.
As with most pesto recipes, preparation is simple too. In total, the pesto takes about 5 minutes to make. All you have to do is add all the ingredients to a blender or food processor, and blend until smooth. When it’s done, the pesto will be a consistent, bright green color. You may need to scrape the sides of your bowl as you go to make sure things aren’t getting stuck in the corners.
Lastly, you’ll need chicken, pasta, and sun-dried tomatoes. I prefer to use boneless skinless chicken breasts. And for the pasta, I like to use spaghetti or penne noodles. When picking your sun-dried tomatoes, look for some that are already julienned.
Cilantro Lime Pesto Chicken Pasta Prep Tips
If you’ve ever wondered how to use cilantro pesto, this is a great beginner recipe.
For an even more flavorful pesto, be sure use toasted almonds. For easy prep, you can buy toasted almonds. Or you can buy slivered almonds and toast them yourself. To easily toast your almonds, add them to a dry skillet. Cook the almonds over medium-heat, stirring constantly, for about 3-5 minutes until they start to brown. You will also know they are ready when you can smell the nuts.
If I am toasting the almonds, I like to use the same skillet to brown my chicken. I use this 5 quart deep sided skillet because the high sides make less of a mess. I use this pan more than any other pan in my cupboard!
For this recipe you’ll need about 1 cup of cilantro leaves. First, wash your cilantro really well with cold water, and dry it off with paper towels.
TIP: There is more flavor in cilantro stems than in the leaves. So, for an even more flavorful dish, use some of the stems in your pesto.
For a smoother pesto, only use the cilantro leaves. However, I typically only chop off about one inch from ends of the cilantro stems. This removes most of the hard woody bits that don’t blend well. Next, chop the remaining stems in half, and roughly chop the leaves.
Whenever cooking pasta, be sure to salt your water well. As a rule of thumb, I add about one teaspoon of salt per pound of pasta. This may seem like a lot of salt, but you really do need this much salt. Not all of it will be absorbed into the pasta, and it will add depth of flavor to your dish.
TIP: Right before draining pasta, save 1 cup of pasta water. To do this easily, dip a coffee mug or measuring cup into the pasta water. Fill the cup with water, and set aside.
Try not to overcook your pasta. You want the pasta to be al dente (to have a slight bite to it). To get the perfect texture, cook the pasta about one to two minutes less than the package directions. Taste the pasta at the end of the cooking time to ensure it’s a texture you like.
Final Cilantro Lime Pesto Chicken Pasta Assembly
Once your pesto, pasta, and chicken are cooked, add them all to your skillet. Then, gently warm everything through until all the flavors come together. If the sauce is too thick, add a 1/4 cup of reserved pasta water, at a time, until the desired consistency is reached.
After adding the sun-dried tomatoes and cheese, add salt and pepper to taste. I add quite a bit more of both, but it depends on how salty your broth and water is.
Want More Cilantro Recipes?
Because it’s so light and bright, it’s a perfect spring or summer meal. Plus, you can use the cilantro lime pesto in so many other ways. Use it as a salad dressing or as a chip dip.
If you love these recipe, you should check out some of my other cilantro recipes:
Or you can check out all of my pasta recipes, by clicking here!
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Guru’s Cilantro Lime Pesto Chicken Pasta
- 1 cup Fresh Cilantro Leaves About 2 Bunches
- 1/4 cup Chicken Broth
- 3 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 2 tbsp Toasted Almonds
- 3 tbsp Garlic Minced
- 2 tsp Lime Juice
- 1 cup Asiago Cheese Shredded, Divided
- 1 1/2 tsp Salt Plus More to Taste
- 8 oz Spaghetti Noodles Dry
- 8 oz Chicken Breast Boneless, Skinless, Diced into 1/2" pieces
- 3 oz Sun-Dried Tomatoes Sliced, Julienned
- Add cilantro, chicken broth, olive oil, almonds, minced garlic, lime juice, and 1/2 cup Asiago cheese, and salt to a blender or food processor. Blend for 2 minutes, or until pesto is smooth and the same color throughout. Set aside.
- In a large pot, bring 4 – 6 quarts of water to a boil. Add salt to taste (about 1/2 tsp). Add spaghetti noodles to pot, and stir gently. Return to a boil, and cook pasta until al dente (about 9-11 minutes).
- Reserve 1 cup pasta water, and drain pasta.
- Heat a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Once pan is warm, add chicken and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned and no longer pink (about 6-8 minutes).
- Add prepared pesto, cooked pasta, and sun-dried tomatoes to the chicken, and heat over medium heat until everything is warmed through. Add 1/4 cup reserved cooking water at a time to thin the pesto sauce, as needed.
- Divide pasta between serving bowls, and top with remaining cheese. Serve.