Spinach and Sun-Dried Tomato Pasta
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.
This 20-minute sun-dried tomato pasta recipe is made for busy weeknights!
It all starts with four ingredient sun-dried tomato pesto made in a food processor and then combined with hot Gemelli 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.
You just need 7 ingredients total and you’re good to go:
- Pasta – I like using Gemelli cut pasta but any short-cut pasta will work.
- Sun-Dried Tomatoes – For this recipe, you’ll need sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil.
- Garlic – Use fresh peeled garlic.
- Fresh basil – Fresh basil makes the best pesto. Feel free to use arugula instead. See below for more pesto variations.
- Red pepper flakes – Just a 1/4 teaspoon is enough to balance out the sweetness and add a touch of heat to the pesto.
- Baby spinach – I like using fresh baby spinach for this recipe.
- Parmesan cheese – Freshly grated Parmesan cheese is the way to go.
Different Ways to Make Pesto
Think beyond basil and Parmesan cheese. The best part about pesto is that it can be made a 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
You’ll need a food processor or high-powered blender for the pesto and a large pot for cooking the 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, make the pesto. To start, pulse the sun-dried tomatoes and oil in a food processor until they’re chopped small. Then add the fresh basil, garlic, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper, and pulse until the mixture is thick and has a paste-like consistency. You may need to scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula a few times to incorporate all the ingredients into the pesto.
- 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 – a splash of half and half or cream cheese
- Veggies – mushrooms or broccolini
- White beans
These tips and tricks will help you make the best tomato and spinach pesto pasta.
- Add pasta water. Save some of the pasta water to add to the pan of pasta and pesto to thin it out.
- Don’t overcook the pasta. Cook the pasta until it’s no longer crunchy in the center (al dente) and then drain. You don’t want it to get mushy at all, but rather, still have a bit of a bite.
- Try different cheese. A combination of Parmesan cheese and romano cheese tastes amazing in pesto.
- Use baby spinach. Use fresh baby spinach rather than full-grown spinach. It’s more tender and wilts better in this dish.
- Switch out the pasta water. Replace the pasta water with chicken broth, vegetable broth, or a splash of white wine.
How to Serve
This easy recipe is perfect for any busy weeknight. Pair it with tasty side dishes like Grapefruit Avocado Salad, Summer Squash Salad, Caprese Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms, or Chopped Antipasto Salad.
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 the 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.
Video: How to Make Sun-Dried Tomato Pasta with Spinach
This one-pot pasta recipe uses Gemelli pasta, but you can use your favorite pasta like rigatoni, penne, or mini farfalle.
This easy pasta recipe includes the process to make sun-dried tomato pesto in just a few minutes. If you’d rather buy it from the store, or you already have some in your pantry, you can use that instead.
This recipe uses red pepper flakes in the sauce which makes gives it a little bite. You can make it more or less spicy by adding more chili flakes or leaving them out altogether.
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Spinach and Sun-Dried Tomato Pasta
- Prep Time: 5 mins
- Cook Time: 15 mins
- Total Time: 20 mins
- Yield: 8 1x
- Category: Main
- Method: Simmer
- Cuisine: Italian
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.
- Serving Size: 1 cup
- Calories: 243
- Sugar: 4.1 g
- Sodium: 57.8 mg
- Fat: 1.8 g
- Carbohydrates: 47.2 g
- Protein: 9.7 g
- Cholesterol: 1.8 mg
Keywords: easy, quick, family friendly
Delicious! It’s a fairly easy and quick recipe that never fails.
Made this last night and it is going to be a regular. My hubby (who doesn’t like pasta) devoured it!
Amazing pasta! Made it using fresh basil from the garden. I’d just recommend to keep some pasta water when stirring the pesto into the pasta to make the sauce a bit more runny- tastes like it came straight from the restaurant!
I’m so happy to hear that ! Thank you for the feedback Tianna.
This was an awesome dish easy to make and the flavor was delicious. Thanks for the wonderful recipe.
Came across your recipe by googling quick pasta ideas with sundried tomatoes. Wow it was delicious! I added chopped black olives to go on top. Thanks for sharing with the world. I’ll be making this again!
Thank you Kerry! So glad you enjoyed the recipe.
Great quick dinner option! My 8 year old loves penne pasta so I opted for penne, ran out of basil…but still delicious as I had the rest of the ingredients!! Next time I think it would be delicious with a shwarma chicken that I make and I may throw in some olives!! Thank you for sharing such a flavourful and versatile recipe!!
Thank you ! So happy to hear you enjoyed it.
perfect meal for quick dinners!
I’m really excited to try this recipe! One question though (as a uni student that likes to bulk make and freeze thins) how well would this recipe store in the freezer/after defrosting?
It could possibly work. I’ve never tried freezing this particular pasta dish and I think it’ll do okay. The spinach might turn a little darker but other than that it should work.
This recipe is fantastic! Fast and easy. I threw in a handful of pumpkin seeds. My picky toddler ate two portions and some off my plate too!
That’s awesome! Thanks for feedback Portia.
Hi…just wondering if would be as good without the parmesan? Trying to stay dairy free but this looks so amazingly delicious!
You can omit the cheese but to be honest it kind of ties everything together at the end.
I made this vegan with nutritional yeast instead of Parmesan and it was really delicious!
This recipe is absolutely delicious and quick to make! I pulsed half the jar of sun dried tomatoes (with the oil) and left the other half as is. This is also delicious as a cold salad!!
That’s great! So glad you enjoyed it.
Love this recipe! It was easy to prep and follow. I didn’t use the basil, but next time I will ! It is delicious ????
Thank you Tricia! So glad to hear that you enjoyed it.
Excellent! Definitely adding it to our regular family menu recipes.
So excited to try this. I do not have a food processor. What is the best way to make pesto without one?
Will add to my christmas wish list:)
Hi Rosanna! A blender would be the next best choice. Hope you enjoy this pasta!
What can I do if my sundried tomatoes are not in oil?
Hi Stephanie: I think if you re-hydrate them in little bit of warm water they should work just as well. Thanks!
and you may also need to add little more olive oil to the pesto
This looks amazing, and resembles it could be prepared in no time at all looks really delicious! A lot flavor for such a simple dish! I am making this for dinner tonight, with a side of rosted shellfishes.
It really is easy to make and the flavors are outstanding. I hope you enjoyed it for dinner tonight!
This looks amazing, and looks like it can be prepared in no time! I am making this for dinner tonight, with a side of roasted Brussels sprouts 🙂
I made this and it is soooo good!!!! I live that it’s meatless. Crazy good ????
Yeay! So happy to hear that and thank you for your feedback!
Thank you so much Natasha! It is quite an easy pasta dish and I really hope you enjoy it. (p.s. brussels sprouts sounds sooo good)
This was really good! So much flavor for such a simple recipe! It will definitely be added to our rotation.
Thank you Katie! Makes me happy that you loved it enough to add to your rotation 🙂
The pictures really make this dish look yummy. Must try this!
Thank you! Hope you enjoy it.