Sun-dried Tomato Pesto Pasta with Spinach and Spicy Blackened Chicken

sun dried tomato pesto pasta with blackened chicken

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Pesto is one of my favorite sauces to put on pasta and sandwiches. Adapted from Bake Your Day, this recipe uses sun-dried tomatoes to make an extra flavorful pesto sauce. The carefully chosen spices make for a an extremely spicy dry rub so feel free to tone it down to your preferences, if you can't stand the heat. A great way to sneak in veggies, this is a hearty and healthy meal.

PREP TIME: 10 MINS

TOTAL TIME: 40 MINS

INGREDIENTS:

  • 12 ounces of pasta, preferably angel hair or fettuccine
  • 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 3 tsps La Tourangelle avocado oil, divided
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 2 cups fresh spinach
  • 2 cups sun-dried tomato pesto, recipe below
  • 1/4 cup of water, reserved from the pasta cooking water

Sun-dried Tomato Pesto Sauce:

  • 1 cup sun-dried tomatoes*
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

*If using sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, drain oil before using. Feel free to use this oil in the recipe instead of the olive oil. If using sun-dried tomatoes not in oil, you will need to reconstitute them in boiled hot water for 30 minutes before use. Drain and use immediately after.

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Cook the pasta in a large pot of salted water until al dente.
  2. Mix paprika, smoked paprika, cayenne pepper, salt, pepper, onion powder and cumin in a small bowl. Rub generously on each piece of chicken; front and back. Make pesto sauce now, if you haven't already.*
  3. Heat 2 tsp avocado oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat.
  4. Add the chicken and cook about 7 minutes on each side. After the chicken is blackened, you may put in the oven at 350 degrees for an extra 5 minutes or until no longer pink in the center.
  5. Remove chicken from pan and transfer to cutting board and allow to rest.
  6. Heat remaining 1 tsp of avocado oil over medium-low heat in the same pan.
  7. Add shallot and garlic and cook until soft.
  8. Add spinach and cook until wilted and bright green.
  9. Stir in the sun-dried tomato pesto, mixing until combined and adding water used to cook pasta, a couple of tablespoons at a time until thinned out a bit.
  10. Stir in the cooked pasta and turn the heat down to low.
  11. Slice chicken on cutting board and serve on top of plate of prepared pasta.

*To make the sun-dried tomato pesto sauce, combine all ingredients excluding the oil, to a food processor or high powered blender. Pulse a few times to combine. Slowly start adding oil in between pulsing, scarping down the sides as necessary. Blend on high for a couple of seconds or until all ingredients are well blended.

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