Sun-dried tomato pasta with a touch of cream, toasted pine nuts and basil is the ultimate comfort food. The sun dried tomatoes are intensely sweet and tart, while the pine nuts are buttery and smoky, and the basil is fresh and bright. Don’t forget the chicken! It’s a great weeknight pasta dinner that translates perfectly into a romantic date-night dish or weekend entertaining favorite.
Creamy pasta doesn’t have to be rich and heavy! This sun-dried tomato pasta is lightened up, using half-and-half instead of heavy cream, and lots of bright flavors like fresh basil, sweet onion, garlic and toasty pine nuts.
I love tossing in some freshly grilled chicken cutlets that add a meaty smokiness that’s so divine with bold sun-dried tomatoes. It’s a pasta you won’t be able to get enough of!
Sun-Dried Tomato Pasta Ingredients
- Short pasta of choice – you can use whatever pasta you like, but my favorites are farfalle or penne.
- Chicken cutlets – chicken cutlets are thin chicken breasts. They’re take less time to cook and they are less “bulky” in the pasta, so each bite has a little bit of everything!
- Half-and-half – half-and-half is less rich and heavy than heavy cream, which I prefer in this pasta.
- Sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil – sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil are juicy, tender and packed with flavor.
- Pine nuts – pine nuts add a toasty, buttery touch.
- Extra virgin olive oil – olive oil helps create our “sauce.”
- Sweet onion – sweet onion adds texture and a subtle sweetness that complements the sweetness of the sun-dried tomatoes.
- Garlic – garlic. Because garlic!
- Balsamic vinegar – a dash of balsamic is an easy chicken marinade.
- Tomato paste – tomato paste gives our cream sauce a beautiful blush color and delicate tomato flavor.
- Basil – fresh basil adds brightness and a pop of green.
- Parmesan cheese – cheese. Because cheese! Splurge on aged Parmigiano-Reggiano for a little extra deliciousness!
Sun-Dried Tomato Pasta Variations
- Chicken breasts instead of chicken cutlets: you can use chicken breasts instead of chicken cutlets (thin chicken breasts). Simply increase the grilling time to 5-6 minutes a side.
- Bake instead of grill your chicken: you can bake your chicken instead of grilling it! Follow the recipe for Juicy Baked Chicken Breasts. If you are using cutlets, decrease the bake time in the linked recipe by about 5 minutes.
- Use pre-grilled chicken strips: no time for grilling? Buy pre-grilled chicken strips!
- Shrimp or sausage instead of chicken: you can substitute the chicken for shrimp or Italian sausage. You can also remove the chicken completely for a vegetarian option!
- Heavy cream instead of half-and-half: heavy cream creates a richer, more creamy sauce.
- Olive oil-based instead of cream-based: instead of using half-and-half, you can simply use about ½ cup olive oil per pound of pasta.
- Add fresh mozzarella: add in fresh mozzarella balls. YUM.
- Add hot pepper flakes: add hot pepper flakes to your cream sauce for a spicy kick.
- Add mushrooms: add in sliced mushrooms for an earthy flair.
- Add spinach: add in spinach for an extra pop of green and veggie!
How to Make Sun-Dried Tomato Pasta
The full recipe and step-by-step video for Sun Dried Tomato Pasta are in the recipe card below! This is just an outline.
- Toast pine nuts.
Toast pine nuts on a baking sheet in a 350-degree oven for 3-6 minutes until golden.
Marinate chicken in balsamic and 2 tablespoons olive oil.
- Grill chicken.
Preheat your grill over high heat. Grill your chicken cutlets 2-3 minutes per side. Slice chicken into bite-sized pieces. Wrap chicken in foil and place in a 170-degree oven to keep warm.
- Make cream sauce.
In a large pot, sweat onion and garlic for 2-3 minutes in a ¼ cup olive oil over medium heat. Add in half-and-half, tomato paste, salt and pepper to taste. Stir and heat over medium-low until just hot (not bubbling). Turn heat to the lowest setting when hot.
- Boil pasta.
Boil pasta. When al-dente, reserve ¼ cup pasta water before draining pasta.
Add pasta, toasted pine nuts, sliced chicken, basil, sun-dried tomatoes, a handful of basil, and a handful of parmesan to the cream mixture. Add a splash of pasta water and stir until combined.
Serve right away, with more basil and parmesan to garnish.
Leftovers and Storage
Sun-dried tomato pasta is best enjoyed right away because of the cream sauce.
If you have leftovers, place them in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days. The pasta will soak up a lot of the cream sauce, so leftover pasta might be dry.
Refresh by warming a generous splash of half-and-half mixed with a dash of tomato paste in the microwave until warm. The amount depends on how much leftovers you have! Pour the warmed half-and-half over the pasta and heat pasta gently over low heat, tossing occasionally, until warm.
You can microwave your pasta in increments of 30 seconds.
More Pasta Recipes You’ll Love on Tastefully Grace!
- Creamy Lemon Pasta (Pasta al Limone)
- The Ultimate Pasta With Bacon and Peas
- Authentic Cacio e Pepe (Cheese and Pepper) Pasta
- Paglia e Fieno (Straw and Hay Pasta)
- Authentic Amalfi Coast Spaghetti alla Carbonara
- Grill (see notes below if you prefer to bake your chicken!)
- 1 pound short pasta of choice like farfalle or penne
- 1 pound chicken cutlets
- 1 cup half-and-half
- 8 ounce jar sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil drained and sliced
- ½ cup pine nuts
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil plus 2 tablespoons for chicken marinade
- 1 medium sweet onion finely chopped
- 2 large garlic cloves minced
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 handful fresh basil plus more to garnish
- 1 handful finely grated parmesan cheese plus more to garnish
- Salt & pepper to taste
- Toast pine nuts on a baking sheet in a 350°F oven for 3-6 minutes until golden. Set aside.
- Marinate chicken in balsamic, 2 tablespoons olive oil, salt and pepper.
- Preheat your grill over high heat. Grill your chicken cutlets 2-3 minutes per side, or until your chicken reaches an internal temperature of at least 165°F. Slice chicken into bite-sized pieces. Wrap chicken in foil and place in a 170-degree oven to keep warm.
- In a large pot, sweat onion and garlic for 2-3 minutes in a ¼ cup olive oil over medium heat. Add in half-and-half, tomato paste, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir and heat over medium-low until just hot (not bubbling). Turn heat to the lowest setting when hot (to keep warm).
- Boil pasta. When al-dente, reserve ¼ cup pasta water before draining pasta.
- Add pasta, toasted pine nuts, sliced chicken, basil, sliced sun-dried tomatoes, a handful of basil, and a handful of parmesan to the cream mixture. Add a splash of pasta water and stir until combined.
- Serve right away, with more basil and parmesan to garnish.
- Add a dash of hot pepper flakes, if desired!
- Bake your chicken, instead of grilling it, if desired. Follow the recipe for Juicy Baked Chicken Breast, but decrease the bake time by about 5 minutes for cutlets.
- You can substitute heavy cream for half-and-half if you like a richer, creamier pasta!
- Check my above post for other substitutions and variations!