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I write about about being a 40-something mum of six wonderfully exasperating children, attachment parenting, my adventures in the kitchen, and whatever else comes to mind. 


Instant Pot Pesto Chicken & Pasta

Instant Pot Pesto Chicken & Pasta

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This creamy, zesty pasta dish is destined to become comfort food in our house. It has become a favorite with my kids — which is great, as they’ve had to eat is about once a week for the better part of 2 months as I’ve been tweaking the recipe!

As with the last recipe I shared, this one is also sized for the 8 qt Instant Pot. If you have a smaller cooker or are making this on the stove top, you will need to adjust the volumes and cooking procedures.


1 kg (2,2 lbs) boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1” cubes

125 ml (1/4 cup) olive oil
125 ml (1/4 cup) lemon juice
30 ml (2 tbsp) minced garlic
15 ml (1 tbsp) oregano
5 ml (1 tsp) salt

454 g (16 oz) dried penne pasta
1 L (4 cups) chicken broth
1 tsp salt

375 ml (1 1/2 cup) cherry tomatoes, halved
300 ml (10 oz) pesto (fresh works best)
250 ml (8 oz) cream cheese, room temperature and cubed
125 ml (1/2 cup) Parmesan, shredded
142 g (5 oz) fresh spinach


  1. Mix olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, oregano, and salt. Pour over cubed chicken and marinate overnight.

  2. Combine broth and salt in Instant Pot insert. Stir in marinated meat and pasta.

  3. Secure lid, and set valve to “sealing”. Cook on high pressure for 8 minutes.

  4. Select “cancel”, and set valve to “venting” to quickly release pressure. Remove lid.

  5. Stir the pasta and chicken mixture. Make sure to break up any clumps of chicken or pasta.

  6. Stir in cream cheese, pesto, tomato, and Parmesan. Add spinach, and stir until spinach is wilted.

  7. Allow mixture to sit for 5 minutes to allow the sauce to thicken.

Serves 8.


  1. Allow chicken to marinate for at least 2hrs. Overnight is ideal. If you like to prep ingredients ahead of time, you can prep and freeze the chicken in the marinade and then thaw in the fridge prior to cooking.

  2. If using a different pasta shape, choose one with an 8-9 minute suggested cook time. If the suggested cook time is longer, add time to step #3.

  3. You can use jarred pesto (Classico makes a decent one), but I find fresh (refrigerated) pesto has better flavour. If you are using a jarred pesto, try adding some extra garlic and fresh basil at the end with the spinach and cheese to add more punch to the flavor.

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