Sometimes I think it’s a scandal that sun dried tomatoes don’t cost more. I’ve never made them myself (though, living in the Phoenix area, we’re certainly not short on sun…or dryness…or tomatoes), but I do have a dim sense of how much time and effort go into the end product of these shrivelly red strips. The process goes something like this: 1. Pick tomatoes 2. Wash tomatoes 3. Cut tomatoes 4. Season tomatoes 5. Dry tomatoes in the sun for days on end 6. Package tomatoes. Seems like an awful lot of work–and an awful lot of tomatoes, seeing as how they lose around 90% of their original weight and shrink down to less than half their original size upon drying.
Yet there they are, a whole bag of them for only $3.00 at Trader Joe’s. Isn’t our food system strange?
Despite the seemingly inverse relationship between cost and effort in sun dried tomatoes, I for one am quite thankful for their relative inexpensiveness, because I adoooooore them. Chewy, brightly colored, and tangy-sweet, I happen to think they bring their A-game to any dish they grace.
And wouldn’t you know it, they make a pretty spectacular main ingredient in pesto.
This Sun Dried Tomato Almond Pesto Pasta with Chicken took its place on our family’s weeknight dinner plan last week, and it’s definitely an entree I’ll be making again. Whole grain spaghetti, olive oil, tomatoes, and almonds place it squarely in the Mediterranean Diet category–a category I’ve been known to harp on relentlessly for its many health benefits. (By the way, didja see the new U.S. News and World Report ranking of diets for 2017? The Mediterranean Diet comes in at the top of nearly every category they analyzed.)
Health benefits aside, this chicken pasta boasts excellent taste and can be whipped up in about 30 minutes. Add it to your meal plan this week!
Sun Dried Tomato Almond Pesto Pasta with Chicken
For the pesto:
- 1 1/4 c. sun dried tomatoes (dry, not packed in oil)
- 1/2 c. slivered almonds
- 1/2 c. extra virgin olive oil
- 3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
- 2 garlic cloves
- salt and pepper, to taste
For the chicken and pasta:
- 8 oz. whole wheat spaghetti
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- 5 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, pounded to 1/2-inch thickness
- 1/2 tsp. dried basil
- 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. pepper
- 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
Make the pesto:
- Add tomatoes, almonds, olive oil, lemon juice, and garlic to the bowl of a food processor. Process until nearly smooth, then taste and add salt and pepper to your liking. Set pesto aside.
Make the pasta and chicken:
- Make the spaghetti according to package directions.
- Meanwhile, season chicken on both sides with basil, oregano, salt, pepper, and garlic powder.
- In a large nonstick skillet, heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil over medium-high heat. Add seasoned chicken and cook about 4 minutes per side or until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F.
- Serve immediately: assemble entree with any combination of spaghetti, pesto, and chicken you like!