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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.

Ingredients:

  • 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  

Directions:

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.

Williams-Sonoma Kitchen.