Smoky Sun-Dried Tomato and Red Pepper Pesto Pasta
Sun-dried tomatoes and roasted red bell peppers are combined to make a flavorful pesto, which is infused with natural wood smoke using a handheld smoking gun. Toss the pesto with pasta, top with grilled chicken breasts and dinner is served.
- 1 jar (16 oz.) roasted red bell peppers, drained and rinsed
- 1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, drained, rinsed and coarsely chopped
- 1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted
- 1 Tbs. sherry vinegar
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
- 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 1 1/2 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded 1/2 inch thick
- 3/4 lb. fusilli, cooked al dente, 1/2 cup pasta water reserved
- 6 oz. baby spinach
- 1 tsp. finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
In a large bowl, combine the bell peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, almonds, vinegar and garlic. Using an immersion blender, pulse until a coarse puree forms. Slowly add the 1/2 cup olive oil, blending until a thick pesto forms. Fold in the cheese and season with salt and pepper.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Fill the chamber of a handheld smoking gun with apple wood chips and smoke the pesto according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Repeat the smoking with another chamber of chips. Let stand for 10 minutes.
Preheat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Lightly brush the chicken breasts with olive oil and season on both sides with salt and pepper. Grill the chicken, turning once, until cooked through, 4 to 5 minutes per side. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board, cover loosely with aluminum foil and let rest for 5 minutes. Slice the chicken thinly on the bias.
In a large sauté pan over medium heat, combine the pesto and the reserved pasta water and heat, stirring occasionally, until warmed through, about 5 minutes. Reserve 1/4 cup of the pesto. Add the pasta and spinach to the remaining pesto in the sauté pan and cook until the spinach is wilted, about 2 minutes.
Divide the pasta among 4 warmed bowls and fan the chicken slices on top. Drizzle with the reserved pesto, sprinkle with the parsley and serve immediately. Serves 4.