Strawberry Pesto Chicken & Fusilli

Prep Time: 30 min
Cook Time: 30 min
Serves: 4

The addition of early summer strawberries to this pesto-inspired dressing and marinade is sure to please. This main course salad, made with whole-grain pasta, baby spinach and grilled lean chicken, is both refreshing and colourful.


3 tbsp (45 mL) red wine vinegar
3 tbsp (45 mL) water
3 tbsp (45 mL) olive oil
1/4 cup (60 mL) strawberries, fresh, chopped
1 tbsp (15 mL) basil, fresh
2 tbsp (30 mL) honey
1/4 tsp (1.25 mL) black pepper, freshly ground
1 1/3 lb (0.7 kg) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
7 oz (200 g) whole wheat fusilli pasta, dry
8 cups (2 L) baby spinach, fresh
2 tbsp (30 mL) pine nuts, dried
1/4 cup (60 mL) Parmesan cheese, fresh, shaved
4 sprigs basil, fresh


1 Puree red wine vinegar, water, olive oil, strawberries, fresh basil, honey and freshly ground black pepper in blender or food processor.
2 Reserve half of this vinaigrette to dress the salad (½ cup - 125 mL). Pour other half over chicken breasts in a large re-sealable plastic bag. Seal. Use your hands to massage marinade into chicken pieces. Marinate in the refrigerator for at least an hour and preferably overnight.
3 Preheat grill over medium-high heat. Remove chicken breasts from bag and place on top shelf of bbq/grill. Grill 10-13 minutes on each side or until chicken reaches internal temperature of 165°F (74°C). Cooking time will vary based on the size of the breasts. Remove from grill and slice grilled chicken into long strips. Set aside.
4 Meanwhile, cook pasta in unsalted water according to package directions.
5 Add baby spinach to a bowl and toss with ¼ cup (60 mL) of the reserved marinade - dressing. Set aside.
6 Toast pine nuts in a non-stick skillet for a few minutes until lightly browned. Keep an eye on them as they can burn easily. Set aside.
7 Use a vegetable peeler to shave long pieces of parmesan cheese. You can use shredded parmesan but it does look nicer when shaved. Set aside.
8 To serve, spread spinach and pasta over bottom of dinner plates. Top with sliced grilled chicken. Garnish with toasted pine nuts, shaved parmesan cheese, sliced strawberries and a sprig of fresh basil. Serve with the rest of the reserved strawberry pesto vinaigrette.