Cold Pesto Pasta with Chicken and Sun-Dried Tomatoes
So I have this friend who is as obsessed with sun-dried tomatoes as I am with kale, and we all know how obsessed I am with kale, so you can only imagine. He puts sun-dried tomatoes in anything and everything, scrambled eggs, pasta, chicken dishes, cookies and brownies, you name it (just kidding on the last two, but I wouldn’t be surprised)! Sun-dried tomatoes haven’t been in my pantry for the past couple of years, not because I’m not a fan, but I guess I sort of forgot about them. Since I’ve been reintroduced to them, I’ve fallen in love with them once again. They really add that extra punch of flavor to any dish, and I love their chewy texture. I especially love them packed in olive oil, they’re so good that I could literally eat them out of the jar (and I have). I think I’m becoming as obsessed with them as my friend, and who knows, I may be adding them to my next kale salad or topping them on my next pizza.
My friend’s obsession reminded me of one my favorite cold summer pastas, which yes, include sun-dried tomatoes. I’ve seriously been making this pasta since 1994, and it’s still a pasta that I look forward to each summer. The combination of pesto, sun-dried tomatoes and kalamata olives is amazing! It’s the perfect pasta to bring to a picnic or potluck, and an easy weeknight dinner as it can be made ahead of time. I love it when I can come home after a busy day, open the fridge and have dinner all ready to go. All you have to do is pair this pasta with a salad and a baguette, and you have yourself the perfect meal for a hot summer night.
Feel free to experiment with this pasta by adding some toasted pine nuts, cherry tomatoes, or even some kale (by the way, don’t add rosemary, it’s just there to make the pasta look pretty)! It’s a pasta that you can add just about anything to and have it taste great. You don’t even need chicken for this pasta, but in my house adding chicken makes it more of a meal. I bring this pasta to picnics and it’s always a hit. It’s a simple make-ahead pasta that only requires 5 ingredients, and it comes to together in a flash.
cold pesto pasta with chicken and sun-dried tomatoes:
- 1 box of your favorite pasta – I always use bowtie pasta because it’s fun!
- 2 bone-in, skin on chicken breasts or 1 rotisserie chicken- shredded
- 1 cup to 1 1/2 cups pesto – I like a bit more pesto on my pasta and find that I need a bit more than 1 cup, but this is all to taste.
- 1 cup pitted kalamata olives – cut in half
- 1 cup sun-dried tomatoes packed in olive oil (1 8oz to 12oz jar)- cut in half or thirds
- shredded parmesan for topping
First things first, let’s cook up the chicken if you’re using chicken breasts. If you’re using a rotisserie chicken then you can move on. We’re not fans of dark meat in this house, so I always just roast up some breasts when a recipes calls for shredded or cubed chicken. Note: For time efficiency, the chicken can be roasted and shredded up ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator until needed.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place the chicken breasts skin side up on a rimmed baking sheet. Rub them with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Roast the chicken breasts for 35 to 45 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through. The breasts I get locally are always huge, so they usually take between 45-60 minutes. I always use my meat thermometer here and take the chicken out when it reaches an internal temperature of 165º. Note: For time efficiency, the chicken can be roasted and shredded up ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator until needed.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for the pasta. Cook the pasta according to the package directions.
Prep the rest of your ingredients. Cut your kalamata olives and sun-dried tomatoes in half, or into thirds depending on your preference.
Once your pasta has finished cooking, drain it and put it in a large bowl.
Add to the bowl, the shredded chicken, chopped sun-dried tomatoes, olives and pesto. Toss to combine all of the ingredients. Put the pasta in a covered container and refrigerate.
Let the pasta cool and then serve it up in some bowls. Top the pasta with some freshly shredded parmesan. Pair it with your favorite salad and you’re good to go on a hot summer night. This pasta is simple but tasty! Bon appetit!
Here’s another one of my favorite summertime make ahead pastas. Ina’s summer garden pasta (and I even have a cute video to go along with recipe).