The Meal Planner

Moving into a new house with two babies and no heat in the beginning of winter (don't ask) is serious chaos. I scraped by with dinners each night by grabbing things from my pantry cupboard or freezer. One of our favorite pantry meals to throw together is Chicken al Diavlo Penne. Using the shortcut of jarred pesto and alfredo sauce creates a fast, flavorful and creamy pasta sauce.

I set out to make this meal for my family, only to discover there were no chicken breasts, penne or mushrooms, but instead bone-in chicken thighs, spaghetti and broccoli. I was excited for a new twist on our family's favorite and I tied all the flavors together with fresh lemon. The pungency of the lemon juice really brightens up the creamy sauce and pairs well with the vibrant, crisp vegetables.

Recipe by Meal Planning 101

Serves 4-6
8 chicken thighs
1/2 cup flour
1 tsp lemon pepper
1 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp seasoning salt

1 lb spaghetti
1 head of broccoli, cut into small florets
1 red pepper, cut into strips
1 jar alfredo sauce
2 heaping tbsp pesto
1 lemon, zest and juice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Put a large pot of salted water on to boil.

In a large oven proof skillet over medium-high heat add 1-2 tbsp of olive oil. Add the flour, lemon pepper, basil and seasoning salt into a bag and shake it up. Add the chicken thighs and shake to coat in the seasoned flour. Add the chicken to the pan and sear sear until golden about 3-4 minutes per side. You don't have to worry about cooking them all the way through, just let it get a beautiful golden color. Transfer the chicken in the skillet to the oven and let bake for 15-20 minutes. If you don't have an oven proof skillet, transfer the chicken to a baking sheet.

Once the water boils add the spaghetti and cook until al dente following the package directions.

In another skillet, heat up 1 tbsp of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the broccoli and peppers and saute for 2-3 minutes. Add the zest of 1/2 the lemon as well as the juice of 1/2 the lemon. Stir in the pesto and alredo sauce. Turn the heat to low and simmer 1-2 minutes just to heat through. If you simmer the mixture for a long time you will lose the crunch and vibrant color of the vegetables. Drain the pasta and toss with the sauce and vegetables.

Remove the chicken from the oven and squeeze the juice of the other half of the lemon. Serve a mound of creamy lemon basil spaghetti with the crispy lemon chicken on top.

Click here for printable version of Creamy Lemon Basil Chicken & Pasta


My daughter and I loved this twist on one of our favorite pasta dishes. Probably my favorite thing about this dish is the contrast of textures between the crispy chicken and the creamy spaghetti. I'm a bit of a carbaholic so this satisfies my mighty craving for all things pasta. My husband really liked it as well, but prefers the original dish this was based on.

For more inexpensive meal ideas check out the $5 Dinner Challenge and Gayle's Grocery Cart Challenge Recipe Swap.

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4 Responses
  1. Richelle Says:

    I've been waiting for you to add the recipe for this one! I;m going to add it to next weeks meal plan! I will keep you posted on how we like it!

  2. Awesome, thanks Richelle. I love hearing your feedback :)

  3. Lori Says:

    Stumbled along your blog and your recipes look delicious. I will definately be trying the Creamy Lemon Basil and Chicken Pasta in the near future!

  4. Thanks for the comment Lori, I'd love to hear back if you try it :)