Flavor loaded 20-minute pasta with sun-dried tomato pesto and fresh baby spinach is SO easy to make!
The best part you don’t need much more to serve this pasta dish. Toss your favorite house salad with Greek salad dressing and you have yourself the perfect meatless dinner for those busy back to school nights.
Sun Dried Tomato Pasta
We are officially back on our school time routine. Early morning breakfast, school lunches, drop off, pick up, and after school sports.
Some days it feels like I’m on the go non-stop, so dinner time has to be quick and easy. That’s why I love meals like this 20-minute sun dried tomato pasta recipe. ♥
Four ingredient sun-dried tomato pesto made in a food processor then combined with hot gemelli pasta (←love love this pasta). Also fresh baby spinach and creamy Parmesan cheese get added in.
It’s heaven in a bowl. It truly is. Serve it with a huge chopped salad and you’ve got dinner in no time. Plus it makes tasty leftovers for lunch.
Ingredients for Sun Dried Tomato Pasta Recipe
I wasn’t joking when I said this meal is easy! You literally need 7-ingredients total and you’re good to go.
- Pasta – your favorite short shaped pasta!
- Sun-Dried Tomatoes – the ones in oil – you’ll use that yummy flavored oil in pesto.
- Fresh basil – or arugula (see below for pesto variations)
- Red pepper flakes
- Baby spinach
- Parmesan cheese – preferably freshly grated
Different Ways to Make Pesto
Think beyond basil and Parmesan cheese. Best part about pesto is that it can be made variety of ways.
- Greens: instead of basil, try adding tender greens such as arugula, parsley, or mint.
- Cheese: Pecorino Romano, aged Asiago or manchego cheese are all hard and salty cheeses suitable for pesto.
- Nuts: add in your favorite nuts, such as almonds, pumpkin seeds, or pine nuts. Just make sure to buy roasted nuts or roast them yourself. It’ll add delicious rich flavor to the pesto.
- Few Other Things: fresh lemon juice, lemon zest or balsamic vinegar is great for brightening up the pesto. Also to switch up the flavors, consider adding jarred artichokes or olives.
How to Make Sun-Dried Tomato and Spinach Pasta
Step 1: Before you get going on the pesto, cook the pasta. Read the back of the box for specific directions. But basically, you’ll want to cook the pasta in salted water until al dente. Cooking time will depend on the type of pasta used.
Step 2: While the pasta is cooking, in a food processor, pulse the tomatoes and their oil until chopped. Add garlic, basil, and red pepper flakes, and pulse until the mixture resembles paste-like consistency.
Don’t forget to season with salt and pepper.
Step 3: When pasta is ready, reserve 1 cup of cooking liquid and drain the rest.
Step 4: Return the pasta back to heat and add spinach, sun-dried tomato pesto, and reserved cooking liquid. Stir until the spinach has wilted.
Add Parmesan cheese and taste for salt and pepper. Serve with additional Parmesan cheese and fresh basil.
Pasta Mix-In Ideas
Once you have this recipe down, you can spruce it up even further with these additional mix-ins:
- Seafood – scallops, shrimp, or salmon
- Chicken – any type of chicken works!
- Garlic breadcrumbs – just like here
- Something creamy – splash of half and half or cream cheese
- Veggies – mushrooms or broccolini
- White beans
How Do You Reheat Pesto Pasta?
It is best to warm up pasta on the stovetop with little water, chicken broth, or even white wine. Simply add cold pasta to a saucepan or sauté pan with liquid of choice and stir until warmed through.
Leftover pasta with pesto that is properly stored, will last for 3 to 5 days in the refrigerator.
If you try Sun Dried Tomato Pasta, don’t forget to leave feedback and a rating.
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Flavor loaded 20-minute pasta with sun-dried tomato pesto and fresh baby spinach is SO easy to make! It makes the perfect meatless dinner or quick side dish for those busy back to school nights.
- 16 oz. gemelli or other short shaped pasta
- 1 (8.5 oz.) jar oil packed sun-dried tomatoes
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 cup fresh basil leaves, packed, plus more for garnish
- 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
- 1 1/2 cups fresh baby spinach, packed
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
- Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
- Cook pasta in salted water according to package directions until al dente.
- While the pasta is cooking, in a bowl of a food processor, pulse the tomatoes and their oil until finely chopped. Add garlic, basil, and red pepper flakes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Pulse until the mixture resembles paste like consistency. It will be thick and you may have to stop the food processor to scrape down the sides.
- Drain the pasta, reserving 1 cup of the cooking water. Return the pasta to the heat and stir in the spinach, sun-dried tomato pesto, and reserved cooking water. Stir until the spinach has wilted. Then add the Parmesan cheese. Taste for salt and pepper.
- Serve with sprinkle of chopped basil and more Parmesan, if desired.
- Pesto: pesto can also be made in a high-powdered blender. You will just have to stop and scrape down sides few times.
- Leftovers: leftover pasta stored in an airtight container will last for 3 to 5 days in the refrigerator. Reheat on the stovetop over medium-low heat with little water, chicken broth, or white wine.
Keywords: easy, quick, family friendly
Originally published August 2016, updated September 2019 with rewritten post. No change to recipe.