Arugula Pesto Pasta with Sun-dried Tomatoes and Chicken

My husband’s exact words to this recipe were, “The 90’s called, they want their pasta back”! Ha! I know, we’ve all eaten a version of this pasta many times. Unapologetically I said this to him, “It’s a basic pasta dish that can be whipped up in minutes and can feed a crowd.” So yes, this dish is a bit old school but hey if it’s not broken, why fix it, right?

Probably what inspired me the most to share this recipe was the pesto. Let me ask you this: Have you seen how many ingredients there are in a jar of pesto? It’s unbelievable, especially when pesto only requires a handful of ingredients.

This arugula pesto is a bit peppery and bright with a bit of lemon juice. The recipe yields enough that you can use half for this recipe and save the rest for later on. It keeps in the refrigerator for 5-7 days.

To the pasta I add chicken cut into small bites and sun-dried tomatoes. They add body and texture to the dish.

The chicken cooks in less than 10 minutes which is pretty much the time it takes to boil the pasta. So basically make the pesto, cook the pasta, cook the chicken while the pasta cooks and voilà dinner is D-O-N-E!

How I made this Arugula Pesto with Sun-dried tomatoes and Chicken:

ingredients needed for Arugula Pesto Pasta with sun-dried tomatoes and chicken

For the pesto:

In a large food processor, add the arugula, basil, parmesan cheese, walnuts, 1 garlic clove, lemon juice, honey and salt and pepper to taste. 

Pulse the mixture a few times until most ingredients are combined and chopped finely. 

Tip! Scrape the sides to help gather any larger bits stuck to the sides. 

With the food processor set to ON, using the feeding tube, slowly drizzle the extra virgin olive oil until the mixture is completely mixed well and homogeneous. 

Tip! Adding the extra virgin olive oil slowly allows the mixture to integrate well and not separate. 

Pour the pesto in a bowl and set aside. 

arugula pesto in a bowl

Boil the pasta and follow the instructions on how to cook it. 

Tip! Salt the water where the pasta will be cooking, it should be as salty as ocean water. 

While the pasta is boiling, add 3 tablespoons of the sun-dried tomato oil (where the sun-dried tomatoes came in) to a large frying pan. 

oil from the sun-dried tomatoes

Season the chicken bites with salt and pepper. 

chicken cut into bites and seasoned with salt and pepper

Add the chicken to the heated sun-dried tomato oil and cook for three minutes. 

chicken bits cooking in sun dried tomato oil

Stir the chicken every minute or so. 

Add 3 cloves of finely minced garlic and the sun-dried tomatoes into the chicken. Combine well. 

Cook the chicken mixture for 3 more minutes, stirring constantly so that the garlic does not burn. 

Tip! The smaller you cut the chicken, the quicker it will cook. 

Take the largest piece of chicken and cut it in half to make sure it is cooked through. If it is cooked, remove the chicken from the direct heat and set aside. 

sun dried tomatoes and garlic cooked with the chicken

Drain the pasta and add back into the pot where it was boiling. 

dried cooked pasta in large pot

Add 1/2 of the pesto and stir in well. 

cooked pasta with pesto

Tip! The amount of pesto added depends on each person individually. I add a little more than 1/2 of the pesto. 

Add the chicken and sun-dried tomato mixture into the pasta along with a few handfuls of the fresh arugula and combine well. 

chicken mixture and fresh arugula added to the cooked pasta with arugula pesto

Taste a bite of the pasta and determine wether it needs extra seasoning, if it does, season with a bit more salt and/or pepper. 

Serve the pasta and add fresh mozzarella to each serving. 

fresh mozzarella added to the arugula pesto pasta with sun-dried tomatoes and chicken

Tip! Adding the fresh mozzarella to the hot pan will make the cheese melt and water down the pasta. 

Drizzle some of the extra pesto to each serving.

drizzle of pesto over arugula pesto pasta with sun-dried tomatoes and chicken

Enjoy!

Arugula Pesto Pasta with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Chicken

A delicious combination of flavors of home-made arugula pesto tossed with sun-dried tomatoes and chicken bits. Easy to make for a busy weeknight dinner and absolutely delicious to eat!
Print Recipe Pin Recipe
CourseDinner, lunch, Main Course
CuisineItalian, pasta
Keywordarugula pesto pasta, pesto recipes
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time15 minutes
Servings6

Equipment

  • Large food processor
  • Large pot
  • large frying pan

Ingredients

For the pesto:

  • 4 cups fresh baby rugula about 1/2 of a 4oz container
  • 3 cups fresh basil leaves about 3 large handfuls
  • 1 garlic clove small
  • 1/3 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/3 cup parmesan cheese grated
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/2 cup good quality extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

For the pasta:

  • 1 1 lb box of pasta penne
  • 1 lb chicken breast meat cut into small 1' cubes
  • 1 10 oz jar sun-dried tomatoes in oil cut into cubes yields about 1 cup
  • 3 garlic cloves finely minced
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

For the pesto:

  • In a large food processor, add the arugula, basil, parmesan cheese, walnuts, 1 garlic clove, lemon juice, honey and salt and pepper to taste. 
  • Pulse the mixture a few times until most ingredients are combined and chopped finely. 
  • With the food processor on ON, using the feeding tube, slowly drizzle the extra virgin olive oil until the mixture is completely mixed well and homogeneous. 
  • Pour the pesto in a bowl and set aside.

For the pasta:

  • Boil the pasta and follow the instructions on how to cook it. 
  • While the pasta is boiling, add 3 tablespoons of the sun-dry tomato oil (where the sun-died tomatoes came in) to a large frying pan.  
  • Season the chicken bits with salt and pepper. 
  • Add the chicken to the heated sun-dried tomato oil and cook for three minutes. 
  • Stir the chicken every minute of so. 
  • Add 3 cloves of finely minced garlic and the sun-dried tomatoes into the chicken. Combine well. 
  • Cook the chicken mixture for 3 more minutes, stirring constantly so that the garlic does not burn. 
  • Take the largest piece of chicken and cut it in half to make sure it is cooked through. If it is cooked, remove the chicken from the direct heat and set aside. 
  • Drain the pasta and add back into the pot where it was boiling. Add 1/2 of the pesto and stir in well. *
  • Add the chicken and sun-dried tomato mixture into the pasta along with a few handfuls of the fresh arugula and combine well. 
  • Taste a bite of the pasta and determine wether it needs extra seasoning, if it does, season with a bit more salt and/or pepper. 
  • Serve the pasta and add fresh mozzarella to each serving. Drizzle some of the extra pesto to each serving.
  • ENJOY!

Recipe Video Instructions

Notes

*The amount of pesto added depends on each person individually. I add a little more than 1/2 of the pesto. 

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