Tomato Ricotta Pesto Pasta

Plate and pan with Tomato Ricotta Pesto Pasta with chicken garnished with basil.

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

No reviews

Tender chicken pieces, a creamy tomato ricotta pesto sauce, orzo and fresh basil come together in this delicious 30-minute Tomato Ricotta Pesto Pasta dish!




  • 300 grams / 10.6 ounces Chicken Breast, boneless, skinless – cut into bite-sized pieces
  • ¼ TSP Garlic Powder
  • ¼ TSP Smoked Paprika (hot or sweet)
  • ¼ TSP freshly cracked Black Pepper
  • ¼ + ⅛ TSP Kosher Salt
  • Cooking Oil Spray

Tomato Ricotta Pesto Pasta:

  • 50 grams / ¼ medium Red Onion – finely chopped
  • 15 grams / 2 Garlic cloves – minced
  • 15 grams / 2-3 fresh Red Chilies (optional, I used Thai Bird’s Eye chilies, omit for milder dish – note 1*)
  • 10 grams / ≈ ½ cup Italian Basil Leaves – sliced
  • 150 grams / 5.3 ounces uncooked dried Orzo (or other short-cut pasta of choice)
  • 10 grams / 2 TSP Light Butter (I used reduced fat Nuttelex)
  • 1 TSP Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 100 grams / ≈ 1 cup Passata (substitute with tomato puree)
  • 30 grams / ≈ 2 TBSP Filippo Berio Tomato & Ricotta Pesto (substitute with red pesto if unavailable – note 2)
  • ½1 TSP ground Cayenne, to taste (note 3)
  • ½1 TSP Crushed Red Pepper Flakes, to taste (note 3)
  • ¾ TSP Kosher Salt, to taste
  • ½ TSP freshly cracked Black Pepper, to taste
  • ½ TSP Dried Oregano Flakes
  • 50 grams / 3 Laughing Cow Light Cheese Wedges (note 4)
  • 60ml / ¼ cup Unsweetened Almond Milk (or use low fat or regular milk)
  • Pasta Cooking Water, as needed



  1. Prepare the fresh ingredients: Chop the red onion, garlic, red chilies and basil as indicated in the ‘ingredients’ section.

Tomato Ricotta Pesto Pasta:

  1. Season and air fry the chicken: Spray the air fryer basket lightly with cooking oil spray. Preheat the air fryer for 3 minutes (or according to manufacturer’s instructions) at 190°C/375°F. Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces and add to a medium bowl. Season with garlic powder, smoked paprika, black pepper and kosher salt and mix to evenly coat. Place the chicken pieces in an even layer in the basket. Air fry for 6-7 minutes, shaking the basket halfway through. Transfer the chicken to a clean bowl and set aside. (Note: You can cook the chicken in a skillet lightly sprayed with oil for 5-7 minutes or until cooked through if you prefer or don’t have an air fryer.
  2. Cook the pasta: While the chicken is in the air fryer, cook the pasta al-dente according to package instructions in a large pot (or use the same large deep skillet you’ll use to cook the rest of the dish) of boiling water. Reserve ¼ cup of pasta cooking water, then drain and set aside.
  3. Sauté the aromatics: Heat the light butter and extra virgin olive oil in a large deep sauté pan over medium heat. Add the red onion, garlic and chilies and sauté for one minute until softened and fragrant.
  4. Build the pasta: Add the passata, orzo, Tomato & Ricotta pesto, ground cayenne, crushed red pepper flakes, kosher salt, black pepper and dried oregano. Mix to combine.
  5. Add the cheese and milk: reduce the heat to low and make a small hole in the middle of the pan. Add the Laughing Cow Light Cheese Wedges, unsweetened almond milk and 2 tablespoons of reserved pasta cooking water. Gently mix in the same spot until the cheese breaks down and the sauce is creamy. Then mix to combine the sauce with everything else. If the sauce thickens too much, add a splash of the reserved pasta water. If it’s too thin, continue cooking until it clings onto the pasta.
  6. Add the chicken: Add the cooked chicken back into the pan and mix to combine.
  7. Stir through the basil: Stir through most of the sliced basil (reserve some for garnish), then switch off the heat.
  8. To Serve: Divide evenly onto plates and garnish with the remaining basil. Serve immediately.



  1. Fresh Red Chilies: Feel free to use less or more to taste, or omit the them completely for a milder dish.
  2. Filippo Berio Tomato & Ricotta Pesto: This pesto is made with tomatoes, ricotta cheese, cashew nuts, Grana Padano cheese, and basil. It boasts the sweetness of tomatoes and smooth, creamy texture of ricotta cheese. It’s widely available and can be found in stores like Walmart, Tesco, and most mainstream supermarkets. You can also buy a jar online on Amazon. In a pinch, substitute with red pesto and add 2 tablespoons of ricotta cheese to the sauce in step 5, breaking it up until creamy and smooth.
  3. Laughing Cow Light Cheese Wedges: This is a spreadable type of creamy cheese wedge that’s also great for snacking. It’s made from cheddar, semisoft and Swiss cheese. Once melted, it becomes creamy and smooth like a sauce. It’s perfect for making lighter creamy pasta dishes when you don’t want to use heavy cream. I used the light version but the regular version can be used too for an even smoother texture and richer flavor. Substitute with light or regular cream cheese if unavailable.
  4. Ground Cayenne and Crushed Red Pepper: Adjust quantity to taste based on your heat level preference. Omit for a milder dish.
  5. Meal Prep Option: Double the recipe ingredients by clicking ‘2x’ in the recipe card to make 4 servings instead of 2. Air-fry the chicken in two batches and use a large enough deep sauté pan to cook the rest of the pasta dish. Transfer to meal prep containers and cover once cooled. Store in the fridge for 3-4 days. When ready to eat during the week, reheat in the microwave on high for 1.5-2 minutes, stirring halfway through, until hot throughout.
  6. Nutritional information may vary if substituting ingredients and using different brands.
  7. See ‘Variations’ in the post above if you’d like to customize this pesto pasta dish.


Keywords: tomato ricotta pesto pasta, tomato and ricotta pasta, Filipo Berio tomato and ricotta pesto pasta recipe