SUN DRIED TOMATO PESTO PASTA is quick, easy and exploding with flavor!
This Sun Dried Tomato Pesto Pasta is one of my favorite pastas in the world and guaranteed to become a new family favorite! It’s a quick and easy pulsing of ingredients to create the sensational sun-dried tomato pesto sauce and then you saute it with veggies (optional) and stir in some chicken broth and heavy cream to create CREAMY sun-dried tomato pesto pasta that is lick-the plate delicious. I’ve include ways to customize the sun-dried tomato pesto pasta with different proteins and veggies so it can be different every time – because trust me, you are going to want to make this sun-dried tomato pesto ALL the time!
Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto Pasta
I love sun-dried tomato pesto pasta. It was over a big bowl of this pasta at a favorite Italian restaurant that Patrick told his parents we were getting married.
Patrick and I hadn’t been dating long, but we both knew we were meant for each other. I had been told that when you meet the right person, you just “know.” Many suitors before Patrick I asked myself,”do I know???” And then Patrick came along, and I just knew. We both knew we wanted to spend forever together before we even held hands. (You can read more about our Love Story here.)
Since we hadn’t been dating long, I hadn’t had the chance to meet his parents until all four of us were clustered around bowls of sun-dried tomato pesto pasta, fettuccine, spaghetti bolognese, and lasagna. As we were chatting, Patrick, asked his dad, “Can you pass the salt?” then under his breath with a muffled cough announced “and we’re getting married.” (He thought it would be funny to tell them this way). Both parents’ eyes grew wide as Patrick affirmed we were engaged followed by a flood of their happy tears.
Over 13 years and many bowls of sun-dried tomato pesto pasta later, we are still meant for each other – we are better together. Kind of like fettuccine and Alfredo, spaghetti and bolognese, and this Creamy Sun-dried Tomato Pesto Pasta, Parmesan Chicken and YOU! A cheesy tie in? Yes, literally. Thank you Parmesan.
Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto Pasta Recipe
This Sun-dried Tomato Pesto Pasta reminds me of the tastes of Italy we giddily celebrated over that night. Its dimensions of flavor will transport your whole household to the finest Italian restaurant (at a fraction of the cost I might add).
This Sun-dried Tomato Pesto Pasta boasts layered flavors of sun-dried tomatoes, pine nuts, fresh basil, fresh parsley, garlic, shallots and spices with the crunch of sauteed bell peppers and squash, fire roasted tomatoes and smooth al dente pasta all bathed in a luscious creamy sauce.
The ingredient list is long for this sauce, but I promise it comes together very quickly and is so worth it. Most of the ingredients are added to the food processor and processed a couple times-seriously takes less than a couple minutes. Please don’t shy away from this awesomeness.
SUN-DRIED TOMATO PESTO SAUCE INGREDIENTS
The star of this Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto Pasta is obviously the pesto sauce. It is tangy, bright, fresh, garlicky and absolutely heavenly. I love it so much, I’ve already used versions of it in my Greek Pasta Salad and my Shrimp Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto Pasta. You will need:
- sun-dried tomatoes: use sun-dried tomatoes in a jar packed in oil, not water.
- basil leaves: please don’t substitute dried.
- parsley: fresh please!
- garlic cloves: use more or less to taste.
- shallot: one medium shallot will do the trick.
- pine nuts: you may substitute with 3 tablespoons almonds if that’s all you have on hand.
- tomato paste: when only using a small amount of tomato paste like in this sun-dried tomato pesto pasta recipe, you can freeze the rest of the can by the tablespoon. Simply drop tomato paste by the tablespoon onto parchment paper so they are not touching and freeze on a baking sheet until solid. Cut around the tomato paste, wrap up and add the tablespoons to a freezer safe bag so you can use them one at a time.
- flour: all purpose or gluten free flour work great. Flour isn’t typically found in sun-dried tomato pesto, but we are adding it to help thicken the creamy sauce.
- seasonings: salt, red pepper flakes, oregano and pepper.
WHAT SUN-DRIED TOMATOES SHOULD I BUY?
Sun-Dried Tomatoes are usually located near the olives or pickles at your grocery store. Purchase sun-dried tomatoes in a jar and not the dried ones that come in a package. The oil keeps them bold and moist and we are going to be using the oil they are packed instead of regular olive oil for extra sun-dried tomato oomph throughout the recipe.
How to Make Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto Pasta
Step 1: Cook Pasta
- Cook pasta of choice al dente in generously salted water. This means the pasta still has a little bite. You don’t want mushy pasta!
- If your pasta is finished cooking before the sauce is complete then toss it with a little sun-dried tomato oil to prevent it from sticking together.
Step 2: Make Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto Sauce
- While the pasta is cooking, add all of the Sun-dried Tomato Pesto Sauce ingredients to a food processor.
- Pulse and process until well blended.
Step 3: Saute Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto Sauce
- Sauteing the Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto Sauce unlocks all of the flavors, and melds them together.
- Saute the pesto in 1 tablespoon sun-dried tomato oil for 4 minutes.
- After 4 minutes, you can add any veggies you wish and cook for an additional minute.
Step 4: Make it creamy
- You don’t have to make the Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto Pasta creamy if you don’t want. Instead, you can add the pesto directly to the pasta and add additional olive oil and reserved hot pasta water tot thin to desired consistency. As for me – I LOVE the creamy version.
- To make creamy sun-dried tomato peso pasta, stir in chicken broth, heavy cream, fire roasted tomatoes, balsamic vinegar and sugar into the pesto/veggie mixture.
- Bring sauce to a boil then reduce to simmer until thickened and vegetables are crisp-tender.
Step 5: Combine!
- Stir cooked pasta into the creamy sun-dried tomato pesto sauce.
- Add additional milk or reserved pasta water to reach desired consistency.
- Taste and add additional salt, pepper, red pepper to taste.
Can I Add chicken to Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto Pasta?
Absolutely! You can either consume this pasta as is (and you won’t be able to resist eating at least some of the pasta as it is), or you can add sauteed chicken or go to extra lengths of deliciousness and add chicken coated in spiced floured, browned and finished in the oven, broiled until crispy then piled high with freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Basically amazing. I’ve included instructions in the recipe.
More chicken options:
- chicken thighs. Due to their higher fat content, chicken thighs are inherently juicer than chicken breasts and harder to overcook. Simply season with salt and pepper, and cook in olive oil for approximately 3-5 minutes per side until cooked thorough.
- chopped chicken breasts. Chop up chicken breasts and season with some salt and pepper. Heat one tablespoon oil over medium high heat, add chicken and cook chicken just until cooked through. Remove to a plate then stir into pasta once done.
- Use rotisserie chicken. Stir shredded rotisserie chicken directly into pasta once done.
Can I add other Protein to Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto Pasta?
This Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto Pasta is a blank canvas to add any protein you wish! In addition to chicken, it is delicious with:
- ground beef
- ground turkey
- ground chicken
Can I add other Veggies to Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto Pasta?
I’ve added bell peppers and squash to this Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto Pasta, but you can use whatever veggies you want! Just be aware of cooking times. For example, carrots will need to be added first thing with the pesto because they take longer to cook and spinach should be added at the very end of cooking once the pasta is all combined. Here are some veggie ideas:
Other Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto Pasta Variations
- Skip the protein. You can instantly turn this into a meatless Monday dinner or a side dish by omitting the protein.
- Make it cheesy. As written, the pasta is more creamy than cheesy, but you can certainly make it cheesier by adding mozzarella either directly into the sauce or melting it on top of the pasta.
- Add panko topping. There are two ways to add panko: 1) sprinkle panko over the top of your pasta and spray lightly with cooking spray and broil; 2) for the CRUNCHIEST panko topping, I recommend toasting it in a skillet first – life changing. To do this, melt 2 tablespoons butter with 1 tablespoon olive oil in a medium skillet. Add 3/4 cup panko and stir and cook unto panko becomes golden brown. Evenly sprinkle over pasta.
- Make gluten-free. To make this Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto Pasta gluten free, simply replace the flour with gluten free flour.
TIPS AND TRICKS FOR SUN-DRIED TOMATO PESTO PASTA
This Sun-Dried Tomato Pasta is pretty straightforward, but here are a few helpful tips and tricks to help you achieve perfect pasta every time:
- You can use a different pasta but I suggest something with curves or ridges so the sauce wills stick to it. Stop pasta from cooking one you remove it from the stove by rinsing in cool water.
- If you’re not using the cooked pasta right away, toss it with a little olive oil. This will prevent it from sticking together.
- You can substitute the shallot with 1/4 yellow onion.
- Purchase sun-dried tomatoes packed in OIL not dry packaged ones.
- Use more or less sun-dried tomatoes depending on desired taste.
- You may substitute the sun-dried tomato oil called for for olive oil.
- You can substitute the fire roasted tomatoes for diced tomatoes.
- Only use freshly grated Parmesan as packaged, pre-shredded cheeses do not melt very well.
- Reserve 1/2 cup of pasta water so you can use it to thin sun-dried tomato pesto sauce if desired.
How long is Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto good for?
You can make the Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto ahead of time and store it an airtight container in your refrigerator for up to 5 days.
CAN I MAKE Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto Pasta in ADVANCE?
If you would like to make this Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto Pasta in advance, I recommend keeping the pasta and the sauce separate. This will prevent the pasta from soaking up too much of the sauce.
- To store, transfer pesto sauce to an airtight container and store in the refrigerator. Take care the container is glass or ceramic as the sauce can stain plastic containers.
- To store the pasta, toss it with a little olive oil to keep it from sticking together. Store in a freezer size plastic bag or airtight container in the refrigerator.
WHAT TO SERVE WITH SUN-DRIED TOMATO PESTO?
We love this Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto with a big salad and Garlic Parmesan Butter Breadsticks. It is also delicious with any of the following:
- Wedge Salad with Blue Cheese Ranch
- Cucumber Tomato Salad
- Roasted Parmesan Broccoli
- Roasted Parmesan Asparagus
- Sautéed Brussels Sprouts with Garlic, Lemon, Butter
- Soft and Fluffy Dinner Rolls
- Fruit Salad with Honey Lime Vinaigrette
- Winter Fruit Salad with Honey Lime Poppy Seed Vinaigrette
WHAT ELSE CAN I USE Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto FOR?
Aside from the obvious uses on pasta, sun-dried tomato pesto sauce is also delicious:
- stirred into some rice or quinoa
- stuffed into peppers and baked
- served over zoodles or spaghetti squash
- stuffed in zucchini boats, topped mozzarella and baked
- stuffed in savory crepes
- on top of cheesy bread
- tossed with roasted veggies
Sun-dried Tomato Pesto Pasta With one bite you will know you’re meant for each other.
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