Sun-dried Tomato Pesto Pasta with Spinach and Spicy 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. Feel free to follow along as I make this dish via my Cooking with Rachel segment on my YouTube channel!




  • 12 ounces of pasta, preferably spaghetti or fettuccine
  • 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 3 tbsp 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

Sun-dried Tomato Pesto Sauce:

  • 1 cup sun-dried tomatoes*
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • 4-5 tbsp of water
  • 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.


  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 tbsp of avocado oil over medium-low heat in the same pan.
  7. Add shallot and garlic and cook until fragrant (about 2-3 mins).
  8. Add spinach and cook until wilted and bright green.
  9. Stir in the sun-dried tomato pesto, mixing until combined. (You may need to add in a little water, a tablespoon at a time, to thin out the pesto.)
  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. Add water as needed. Blend on high for a couple of seconds or until all ingredients are well blended.


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