Swiss Chard Walnut Pesto Pasta in a white dish.

Swiss Chard Walnut Pesto Pasta

A recipe for Swiss Chard Walnut Pesto Pasta: A versatile pesto recipe transforms into a wholesome weeknight meal with pasta and leftover shredded chicken!

Swiss Chard Walnut Pesto Pasta in a white dish.
Swiss Chard Walnut Pesto Pasta

This versatile pesto recipe transforms pasta and leftover chicken into Swiss Chard Walnut Pesto Pasta–a wholesome weeknight meal!

A white bowl filled with Swiss Chard Walnut Pesto Pasta.

We’re in the homestretch. Seven more days to go, and we can all breathe a little easier. Alarm clocks, packing lunches, correcting homework, and all the minutiae of the school year can be forgotten, for a few weeks, at least. I’m hopeful that summer will eventually feel like summer here in the Bay Area, and I am looking forward to picnics at the park with the kids and easy dinners on the grill each night.

Either way, I am embracing simple meals, and this Swiss Chard Walnut Pesto Pasta is something that can straddle this transition. With a jar of freshly blended pesto, I can easily make a pasta for lunch or dinner, with some shredded leftover chicken to round it out for a simple supper. A smear on some flatbread or tortilla with some roasted vegetables makes for a satisfying lunch, and a sprinkle of goat cheese on a cracker is an easy snack.

Several stalks of Swiss chard on a wooden surface.

Walnuts in a metal measuring cup.

Pesto ingredients in a food processor.

How to Make Swiss Chard Walnut Pesto Pasta

First, the pesto. It all starts with Swiss chard, quickly blanched and dried. A quick spin in the food processor blends it with toasted walnuts and salty cheese, and of course, there’s some garlic and olive oil.

After cooking the pasta, mix in roasted chicken (an optional protein boost for an easy weeknight meal!) and stir in about a cup of the freshly-made pesto. Garnish with additional toasted walnuts and shaved Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and dinner is served.

Swiss Chard Walnut Pesto in a jar.

A bowl filled with a portion of Swiss Chard Walnut Pesto Pasta.

It’s so simple, yet so versatile, and this jar will take me to the finish line. Summer, here we come.

A white bowl filled with pesto pasta.

More Pasta Recipes 

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Fireworks Pasta Salad
Linguine with Clams in Sake Red Chili Sauce
Farfalle with Roasted Carrot Pesto, Parmesan and Toasted Walnuts

Swiss Chard Walnut Pesto Pasta

A recipe for Swiss Chard Walnut Pesto Pasta: A versatile pesto transforms into a wholesome meal with pasta and leftover shredded chicken!
Course Dinner, Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine American, Italian
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Servings 6 servings
Calories 756kcal


  • 6 stems Swiss chard thoroughly washed
  • 1/3 cup toasted walnuts plus more for serving
  • 1/2 cup Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
  • 1/2 cup Piave Vecchio cheese or substitute more Parmigiano Reggiano
  • 2 cloves garlic peeled
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 3 teaspoons kosher salt more or less to taste
  • freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 lb pasta Gemelli shaped works well
  • 1 cup leftover shredded roast chicken optional


  • Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Salt the water. Prepare an ice bath and set aside.
  • Remove the Swiss chard leaves from the stems and blanch in the boiling water for about 1-2 minutes. Retrieve the Swiss chard with a strainer or tongs and transfer to the ice bath. Drain the Swiss chard well - if you have a salad spinner, this helps. Roll the Swiss chard in a clean kitchen towel to remove any excess water, and try to dry as much as possible.
  • Place the blanched Swiss chard (you should have about 1 1/2 to 2 cups) in the bowl of a food processor, along with the toasted walnuts, Parmigiano Reggiano and Piave Vecchio cheese and garlic and process until smooth. With the food processor running, add the olive oil slowly, until it is well blended. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Meanwhile, in the same large pot that you blanched the Swiss chard, cook the pasta according to the package directions. Drain, reserving about a cup of the pasta water. Transfer the cooked pasta to a large bowl.
  • Add the shredded chicken to the pasta, if you are using. Use about 1 cup of the pesto to dress the pasta, and toss well until it is evenly coated. Use some of the reserved pasta water to make it easier to coat the pasta, adding in small increments. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve with additional toasted walnuts and shaved Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. Serve immediately or at room temperature.


To toast the walnuts, spread the nuts on a baking sheet and roast in a 350° F oven for 8-10 minutes.


Calories: 756kcal | Carbohydrates: 60g | Protein: 25g | Fat: 47g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Cholesterol: 31mg | Sodium: 1555mg | Potassium: 454mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 3066IU | Vitamin C: 15mg | Calcium: 249mg | Iron: 3mg
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Recipe Rating

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  1. Bpirotta

    I tried this and it was a huge success #newchefinthemaking :)

  2. Brian+@+A+Thought+For+Food

    We’ve had some really bizarre weather out here. It went from 40 degrees to 80 and stayed that way for 3 weeks without any rain. And now we’re back into the 40s/50s. In June. And it’s gloomy. What’s the deal with that (ahem… global warming)?

    Anyway! I hope you have a great start to your summer. The end of the school year can always be tough, so I’m sure you’re ready to collapse. 

    This pasta look fabulous! That color will make anyone (no matter where they are) feel like it’s summer. 

  3. Jessi

    So beautiful and yummy looking! I love the idea of Swiss chard pesto, I wouldn’t have thought of that.

  4. Eileen

    Yes to pesto! I definitely need to keep this in mind when our CSA starts showering us with big bunches of greens this summer. :)

Kitchen Confidante®