Penne with Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto

This nutty whole grain pasta is coated in a delicious sun-dried tomato pesto that gets better and better as it sits in your fridge!


  • 1 pound whole wheat penne pasta
  • 3 oz bag sun-dried tomatoes – about 1 cup (not the jarred kind that are packed in oil – I find the bagged kind where the salad toppings and bagged nuts are in my grocery store)
  • 3/4 cup parmesan cheese, shredded
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons reduced fat cream cheese
  • 810 basil leaves
  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes


  1. Cook your pasta according to package instructions. Make sure you season your pasta water with salt! It should taste like the ocean. Make sure to reserve about a cup of pasta water when or before you drain the pasta!
  2. To make the pesto, combine all ingredients into a food processor (tomatoes, parm, lemon, garlic, olive oil, cream cheese, basil, walnuts, and pepper flakes). Season with salt and pepper and pulse until combined. Add 3/4 cup water and turn your food processor on until the pesto is very smooth. Add more water if needed. Season to taste with salt and pepper
  3. Stir your pesto into your drained pasta with about 3/4 cup of your reserved pasta water (this smooths things out and makes the pesto into a sauce for the pasta). Add more pasta water if needed
  4. Garnish with extra basil and parmesan cheese


Sun-dried tomatoes have a unique sweet flavor to them. If this is too much for you, let everything sit for a day in the fridge. The pesto absorbs into the pasta a bit, and it mellows everything out big time. I think this is delicious right away, but I think it gets even better as it sits in fridge!

If you can only find the jarred sun-dried tomatoes that are packed in oil, drain the oil off as best as you can, and use a cup of the tomatoes. Omit the olive oil from the pesto. The nutrition info will be a bit different if you go this route!