Sun-Dried Tomato Spinach Pesto Pasta

I love pesto.  While the traditional recipe calls for basil and pine nuts, it’s versatility and adaptability to personal taste are evidenced by the numerous innovative versions out there.  When I saw the recipe for sun-dried tomato pesto by Oh She Glows last week, I couldn’t pin it fast enough!  Btw, how awesome is Pinterest!  I don’t know why it took me SOO long to join!!  I’ve been pinning like a maniac.  Sure makes finding recipes a lot easier!

All her recipes are perfection and I usually follow them to the T.  However, I did make a few adjustments of my own this time.  I prefer spinach over basil in my pesto.  And since I have an overflow of almonds, I decided to substitute them in place of walnuts.  I also used dried sun-dried tomatoes instead of the oil-packed ones because that’s what I had on hand.  Finally, I added chickpeas for extra protein.

I poured the pesto over both quinoa and whole-wheat fusilli pasta.  They were both delicious.  Tim actually preferred the fusilli pasta.  He thought the spiral shape of the pasta trapped the sauce nicely.  I will say, though, that for the quinoa, I liked the pesto a little bit thicker.  For the fusilli pasta version, I added a little more water to the sauce to thin out the consistency.


Sun-Dried Tomato Spinach Pesto Pasta

Yields: 1 1/2 cup

Ingredients for Pesto:

  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 cup spinach, packed
  • 1/4 cup chickpeas
  • 7 sun-dried tomatoes (either oil-packed or dried) *
  • 1/4 cup EVOO
  • 8-10 Tbs liquid from reconstituting tomatoes or water **
  • 1/4 cup almonds
  • s&p to taste
  • 2 Tbs nutritional yeast
  • Crushed red pepper flakes to taste

*If using dried tomatoes, soak in water for about 30 min until soft and pliable.  Save the liquid, and use it instead of water.

** May need to add more or less depending on your preference of consistency.

Directions:

  1. Drop garlic, spinach, and chickpeas into a food processor and give it a whirl.
  2. Add tomatoes, nutritional yeast, and liquid while drizzling in EVOO.  Process until smooth.
  3. Pulse in the almonds and season with s&p to taste.

Now, I know that the color doesn’t look too appetizing, but don’t let that fool you!  Looks can be deceiving.

Shrimp, avocado, quinoa with the pesto.

Chicken sausage, tomatoes, spinach whole-wheat pasta with the pesto.

Now that I’ve enticed you with this incredible pesto, let’s move onto discussing The Simply Bar Challenge that I participated in.  The first time I heard of this product was through Brittany who couldn’t say enough good things about it!  So I jumped at the opportunity when I saw on their Facebook page that they were looking for 20 participants who were interested in making the switch from their current protein bar and were willing to give detailed feedback in return for free samples.

I was sent 4 different flavors – Peanut Butter Chocolate, Lemon Coconut, Caramel Peanut, and Cinnamon Pecan.  My favorite was Lemon Coconut!  I loved the burst of lemon that hit me instantly followed by the unmistakeable coconut flavor.  Heavenly..

For the longest time, my go-to protein bar has been Pure Protein (specifically the chocolate peanut caramel flavor).  It has 20g of protein, 180 calories, 6g of fat (which is pretty good for a protein bar), 1g of sugar, and 1g of fiber.  However, I’m embarrassed to admit that I didn’t really look at the “could it be any longer?” ingredient list as carefully as I should have.  I just looked at the amount of protein and fat and settled on it.

So how did TSB stack up?  Let’s first look at the nutritional content – TSB has 16g of protein, 160 calories, 4g of fat, 3g of sugar, and 4g of fiber.  Not only that, there are only 9 ingredients all of which I can recognize and pronounce.  Although the sugar content is higher, it doesn’t contain any sugar alcohols, unlike the Pure Protein bar which has 11g.  TSB is also gluten free, has a low glycemic index thereby preventing a spike in blood sugar level, and is vegan.

As for the taste, I stuck with Pure Protein as long as I did because it was the best tasting out of everything else I had tried.  However, the hubby and I both agreed that it’s not something you can eat all at once.  I don’t know about you, but I feel like all protein bars have this hmm..how do I describe this…protein-y taste (you know what I’m talking about, right?  If not, I apologize for my lack of a better description), and paste-like consistency.  Not so with TSB.  The texture was very crispy and crunchy! And I had absolutely no problem devouring it in one sitting!

I tried the samples at different times of the day.  While it was good as a pre-workout snack, I actually preferred eating it as a mid-afternoon snack.  I usually get huge munchie cravings during that time of the day, and the bar really prevented me from making some regrettable choices.

Overall opinion?  It’s def my new go-to protein bar!  Move over Pure Protein.  You have no place in my pantry anymore.  Hello TSB!  Please accompany me to my school or to work!  I’ll give you lots of lovin’ ;).

Disclaimer:  I was not compensated for this review.  My opinion of this product is completely my own.

Question:

Do you prefer spinach or basil when making pesto?

Have you tried The Simply Bar? What’s your favorite flavor?  If you haven’t tried it, I highly recommend you give it a chance!

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50 Responses to Sun-Dried Tomato Spinach Pesto Pasta

  1. That pesto looks delicious! I prefer using spinach too, or kale. I’m not a huge basil fan for some reason.

    • Min says:

      Me too! Ooh I haven’t tried making it with pesto! Great idea, Caroline! I still haven’t figured out if I like basil or not….in some dishes I do, but then in others I politely push aside and let Tim eat it 😉

  2. Courtney says:

    I’ll have to try that pesto recipe! I like basil in mine, but spinach would be good as long as there’s plenty of parmesan cheese. 🙂

  3. Stephanie says:

    I am totally making this pesto tonight for my family! It looks and sounds delicious!

    I’m going to definitely try those TSB bars. It is so. hard. to find gluten-free protein/energy bars that have a relatively decent nutritional profile and real ingredients!

    • Min says:

      Ooh you’ll have to let me know what you and your family thought of the sauce! I hope you guys enjoyed it!

      I know you’ll love these, Stephanie! I don’t know how the geniuses behind TSB team did it, but it’s super delicious and nutritious at the same time! For a protein bar that’s unheard of!

  4. I’ve never made pesto still and this recipes looks fabulous! I need a food processor so bad. And I’m seeing a Vitamix, so jealous! Unfortunately since we got married all my cooking things had to be left in storage and I only have what our corp housing gave us 😦 But I’m looking into buying an extra food processor just because I need it! Also I haven’t tried these bars but they look and sound great! I hate the protein bars that have a fake taste.

    • Min says:

      Hehe.. I do love my Vitamix! It was my birthday and Christmas present. I never owned a food processor, and when it came time to invest in one, I thought, “why not get this beauty that can function as a juicer and a food processor!”
      And yes, you must try these bars! I think what I love the most is the crunchy texture! Yum

  5. Wow Min your pictures are getting better and better! Do you have a new camera?
    I actually stopped by to tell you I’ve nominated you for a Liebster award http://eatandgetmoving.wordpress.com/2012/08/09/liebster-blog-award-11-random-facts-about-me/ 🙂 Love, Leanne

    • Min says:

      Thank you! I’m practicing every chance I get 😉 It’s quickly becoming a passion of mine!
      And thank you for the nomination! You’re so sweet!

      • I can imagine, I’d LOVE a new camera and get better at food photography! It’s on top of my wish-list 😉 and you’ve very welcome Min, you’re such a sweetheart with an awesome blog!

  6. I love pesto with basil! Never tried it with spinach before, will give it a try since Patrick doesn’t really like too much basil flavor. Thanks for the review on The Simply Bar! I was on the lookout for a good protein bar that I can eat right before I go to the hospital or as a snack post-delivery. Hopefully they carry these at my grocery store 🙂

    • Min says:

      Most of the time I use spinach because we ALWAYS have some on hand. Oh I hope you find them at your grocery store! The D-day is fast approaching!!!! Hang in there! Praying for you!!

  7. Corrie Anne says:

    love the nutrition facts on the simply bars! i’m always making sauces that are ugly colors but taste incredible!

  8. This looks AMAZING, Min! I just got my first food processor so I am so excited to make pesto! I pinned this recipe pronto 🙂 BTW, I love how you have your Pinterest boards organized! I started mine off with just one board for all food, and spent one painstaking afternoon separating it into sweet and savory. If only I had chosen to use your system!

    • Min says:

      Ooh! I remember the day when I got my very own food processor! It was a glorious day, indeed ;). Congrats! Can’t wait to see what wonderful creations you come up with! Pinterest really is addictive! Where has this been all my life? I would’ve done the same thing if I hadn’t seen other people’s boards. I just simply followed in their footsteps ;). I LOVE all your boards!

  9. The pasta looks seriously amazing! I’ll have to check out those simply bars…I haven’t seen them in the store!

  10. wow Min, your pictures and recipes are getting better and better! Yay for improvement~And omgness, I just cannot wait to try these bars. I always hear about how great they are. I tend to eat (when I eat bars) Kind bars, lara bars, pure bars, and clif mojo!!! I’m definitely willing to try these. And I’m a HUGE basil fan. Pretty much anything that hurts my nostrils from super bold smell is my fave when it comes to food, hehehe.

  11. Min says:

    Aww..thanks, Ellie ssi! I still have long ways to go, but I’m having a lot of fun clicking away 😉 I think you’ll love it! The texture is so different from all those products you mentioned. Very crunchy and crispy! Haha, you’re so cute! I wish we lived close…

  12. Simply Bar came to the Richmond Vegetarian festival so I got to try a bunch of flavors! I liked them, but they’re so expensive, they probably won’t make it into my regular rotation 😦 boo!

    • Min says:

      Ooh that festival sounds likes fun! Man, I’ve never been to Virginia…gotta get myself up there one of these days! You’ve convinced me ;). Yea..they are a bit pricey, but so are all the other protein bars I’ve tried. I’m def going to stock up when they go on sale! 😉

  13. I LOVE Simply Bars! They’re definitely the cleanest high protein bar on the market; all the others are packed with fake ingredients and sugar alcohols, which make my tummy funny. :-/ I’ve been searching for the Caramel Peanut flavor, but haven’t had any luck. Until I find it, Lemon Coconut is my favorite too. 🙂

    Your pesto looks and sounds amazing! I love that you added chickpeas for extra protein. I may give this a whirl (with basil AND spinach–love them both!) and use it as a sauce for chicken!

    HUGS! xoxo

    • Min says:

      Seriously! I don’t know why I didn’t pay attention to sugar alcohols before! My stomach never felt funny from eating others, but it sure prefers TSB ;). Ooh, that one’s a good one too! My close second! Mmm…pouring the sauce over chicken sounds like a great idea! Happy Friday!

  14. This recipe sounds so yum, Min – thanks for sharing! Do you think it would taste good without the nutritional yeast (don’t have any at home)! I actually love the flavor of basil in pesto but I also do love spinach so wouldn’t mind alternating between the 2!

    The Simply Bar sounds yummy- not sure if they sell them in London but I will def keep an eye out for them! It sure has an impressive amount of protein per bar! Hows the ingredient list- I’m guessing rather minimal given the bar’s name? I recently tried Bounce energy balls which are full of protein too- highly recommend them as an alternative!

    • Min says:

      I would imagine it would be just fine! I just followed Angela’s vegan recipe, but adding some parmesan cheese never hurt a dish ;). TSB is impressive! Only 9 ingredients! And I recognized every single one of them! Oh, I hope you can find it in London! And thanks for the suggestion! I’ve never tried them and will def be on the lookout!

  15. Kari @ bite-sized thoughts says:

    Your pasta looks gorgeous 🙂 I liked the look of that sun dried tomato pesto too, and I love your use for it here!

    • Min says:

      Thanks, Kari! I’m really having fun in the kitchen lately…cooking and snapping pictures ;). The hubby complains that he misses his warm plate of food! haha..poor guy.

  16. This looks SO good! I love pesto 🙂 It is the best making a big jar at the beginning of the week and using it for sandwiches, salad dressings, wraps and pasta dishes.

  17. You had me at the title! These are some of my favorite ingredients! This looks so delicious!

    • Min says:

      🙂 Hope you’ll give it a try! The addition of chickpeas was wonderful! YOu may have to add more water though, as its addition results in a thicker consistency

  18. I love the Simply Bars! They sponsored the Blend Retreat last year and we were able to try all of their flavors. My favorite is the coconut too! Followed by the cinnamon. 🙂

    oh, and I totally know what you mean about the “protein-y taste” those other bars have.

  19. I love love love pesto!
    I like that you made a few substitutions to the recipe. Sounds delicious!
    Typically I love basil, but don’t often buy it. And when I had a basil plant, it died so fast. 😦

    • Min says:

      I don’t buy herbs too often either because they’re on the pricier side. I want to grow them myself, but they all die under my care also…I have a problem with overwatering! They always look so sad and thirsty though! 😦

  20. Brittany says:

    I love basil pesto!! That looks so good! So glad you liked the Simply Bars!!! Aren’t they awesome!! I love the coconut lemon and the chocolate pb. Yum!!

    • Min says:

      Yes yes, Brittany!!! You were absolutely right! I’m so happy. 😉 Perfect snack to take to school! Hope you have a wonderful weekend!!

  21. Yum yum yum! (Minus the shrimp…I’m not a big seafood fan) I like the chickpeas in the pesto, which help thicken it up a bit. I prefer basil in my pesto, but spinach is definitely good too. I’ve never had Simply Bars before but with only 9 ingredients I’m definitely going to have to try them!

  22. Kailey says:

    sun-dried tomato pesto = my FAVORITE pasta combo 🙂
    Sounds so good.

  23. Yummmmm…pesto! I used to eat it ALL the time, but think I overdosed a bit and haven’t had any for ages. You’ve inspired me to go back…love the idea of adding chick peas!

  24. Assuming we add the chickpeas with the garlic / greens? They’re not in the directions 😀 looks amazing!

  25. Min says:

    Hi Sarah! Yes, you’re correct! So sorry and thank you for pointing that out for me! Hope you like it!

  26. Pingback: 10 Simply Perfect Pasta Recipes | Yummly

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