Easy Weeknight Dinner: Pesto Pasta with Spinach, Asparagus, and Cherry Tomatoes

I saw a recipe on Rachael Ray not that long ago that immediately made me think, “I should make that. It sounds really delicious and would be very easy.” Actually, Dr. Travis Stork from the TV show The Doctors was Rachael’s guest and it was his recipe, which they were touting as very healthy. It’s a nice, light dish with the asparagus, grape tomatoes, and spinach.

I took a shortcut from the recipe Rachael and Dr. Travis made because I had some pesto in the freezer, so I got to skip that step. I also added chicken, but I think it would be equally delicious without it if you’re a meat free-er or need a shortcut.

You can use homemade or store bought pesto, but I happen to know where you can get a very easy pesto recipe, and then you can control the quality of the ingredients and flavor it exactly how you like it.

We absolutely loved this recipe. It is deceivingly simple for something that tastes so good. I’ll file this away in my “quick and easy dinners” file for later use.

Pesto Pasta with Spinach, Asparagus, and Cherry Tomatoes


  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 12 ounces whole wheat penne or farfalle
  • 1 bunch asparagus (about 14 ounces), trimmed
  • 1/2 onion, sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced or grated
  • 1 3/4 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 cups baby spinach
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup of basil pesto
  • salt and pepper to taste
Heat one tablespoon of olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Add chicken, salt and pepper to taste, and cook for 8-10 minutes until slightly browned on the outside and no longer pink inside. Remove chicken from the skillet and cover to keep warm.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, cook pasta according to the package directions. Drain, reserving about 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid, and return pasta to the pot.
In the same skillet used to cook the chicken, add another tablespoon of olive oil. Add asparagus and onion and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook about 3-4 minutes. Add tomatoes and cook until asparagus are tender, 4-6 minutes longer. Add spinach and cook another minute or so, just until spinach is wilted. Remove from heat.

Add chicken, vegetables, pesto, and pasta cooking liquid to pasta and toss until well-combined. Sprinkle with grated or shaved Parmesan. Serve warm, or chill and serve cold.

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