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Pesto chicken and butternut squash salad

Tamara Willner
Written by

Tamara Willner

Reviewed by dietitian

Fiona Moncrieff

2 min read
Last updated September 2023

Pesto and chicken were made for each other. Add in the yummy flavours of butternut squash, pine nuts, and parmesan, and you’ve got yourself a winning salad that will please even the fussiest of eaters.

Recipe: Pesto chicken and butternut squash salad

Prep and cooking time: 35 mins

Serves: 2


  • 350g butternut squash, peeled, deseeded, and diced
  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp pesto
  • 3 tbsp pine nuts
  • 100g spinach, roughly chopped
  • 40g parmesan, finely sliced
  • 1 handful fresh basil, roughly chopped


  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan.
  2. Cut the ends of the squash first, then peel the skin off with a knife or peeler. Slice it down the middle, and remove seeds with a spoon.
  3. Cut one half of the squash in half again, then into 1-2cm chunks. Save the other half for a recipe like Moroccan butternut squash stew (p.74).
  4. Place the squash in one side of a oven-proof dish and chicken breast in the other side. Coat both with oil and season with a generous pinch of salt and pepper. Cover each chicken breast with 1 tbsp of pesto.
  5. Bake for roughly 25mins, stirring the squash occasionally so it doesn’t stick.
  6. In a non-stick pan, heat the pine nuts until lightly browned (approximately 1min), stirring constantly, then leave to cool. Add the roughly chopped spinach to a salad bowl.
  7. Allow the squash to cool for 5mins and then add it, and any liquid from the oven tray, to the chopped spinach to wilt the spinach slightly.
  8. Add the cooled pine nuts, parmesan, and basil to the salad and mix lightly.
  9. Finely slice the chicken breast and serve with a generous helping of salad. To allow flavours to infuse into the salad, mix the chicken lightly with the salad.

Second Nature Special Tip:

Use chicken thighs and sunflower seeds instead of pine nuts if you want to make this dish a little more budget friendly.

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