Creamy Parmesan Fusilli with Grilled Chicken, Sun-dried Tomatoes, and Spinach

Creamy Parmesan Fusilli with Grilled Chicken, Sun-dried Tomatoes, and Spinach

This creamy parmesan fusilli with grilled chicken, sun-dried tomatoes, and spinach is truly luscious! A perfect weekday meal.

Serves 6-8
Prep Time: 10 min
Cook Time: 25 min
Total Time: 35 min


  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • ¼ cup of Italian dressing, for marinade
  • 16 oz of pasta – I used fusilli because it holds sauce really nicely in all those crevices, but any pasta shape will work
  • 1-2 teaspoons of salt, for the pasta water
  • 1 jar of sundried tomatoes in olive oil, chopped, reserving 2 Tbsp of oil for the saucepan
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 cup of chicken broth
  • 4 oz cream cheese
  • 5 oz fresh baby spinach leaves
  • 4 oz of freshly grated parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
    Extra-firm Tofu
    Frozen Peas


    1. Combine chicken breasts with Italian dressing and let them marinate in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes and up to overnight.
    2. When you’re ready to cook the chicken, heat the grill to 400 degrees and then grill for 5-8 minutes on each side, depending on the thickness of your chicken breasts.  After removing from the grill, allow to rest at room temperature for 5-10 minutes before slicing into cubes.  Set aside.
    3. Boil 6 qts of water, salting the water generously.  Follow package directions to cook the pasta.  Before straining the pasta, take a coffee mug and dip it into the pot, collecting about 1 to 1 ½ cups of pasta water. Set aside.
    4. In a separate saucepan, add the reserved 2 tablespoons of sundried tomato oil.  Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, then add the chopped sundried tomatoes. Add the chicken broth and cream cheese, and lower the heat, chopping at the cream cheese to break it up and help it melt.  When the cream cheese is softened and the mixture begins to bubble, add half of the reserved pasta water and parmesan cheese, and stir until all ingredients are fully incorporated.  Add spinach and cover the pot, allowing the heat to wilt the spinach.  Add chicken and pasta and toss, adding the remaining reserved pasta water slowly until desired sauce consistency is reached.  Garnish with extra parmesan cheese.
    5. masala, and coriander, allowing the spices to profume.  Pour the onion mixture back into the pan, stirring frequently to ensure the mixture doesn’t burn.  Add peas, vegetable broth, and green chili, and stir until well combined.  Continue cooking on a medium heat until the sauce thickens, about 10 minutes longer. 
    6. While the sauce is thickening, heat a medium fry pan with a few drops of oil, and spread it around the pan.  Add the tofu blocks to the pan and saute for 3-5 minutes on each side, until the tofu is brown.  Remove to a cutting board and cut into 1” cubes, and then add to the sauce pot.  Add coconut milk and stir to combine.  Salt and pepper to taste.  When ready to serve, garnish with chopped cilantro.  Best served with basmati rice and a few pieces of warm naan.


    • The trick to this dish is the reserved pasta liquid!  When you boil pasta, excess starch builds up in the pasta water and acts as a binder for the pasta sauce.  When the pasta water and sauce are combined, the oils and starches emulsify to create a truly luscious, next-level sauce that clings to the pasta.
    • Do not rinse the pasta after straining; you will wash off the residual starches and the sauce won’t bind to the pasta as nicely.
    • You can save time by using leftover grilled or pulled chicken in this recipe!  Follow the same recipe, but put the chicken in the sauce by itself and allow it to warm before adding the pasta.  
    • To make this recipe vegetarian, omit the chicken, or substitute white kidney beans or chickpeas.
    Kristina Shane

    This recipe is from of Home Chef and OPL Community member Kristina Shane.


    OPL Plant-rich Recipes

    Eating more fruits and vegetables is good for you and the planet.  Find more delicious OPL-recommended plant-rich recipes here.

    Tofu 101: How to Master this Versatile Protein

    Tofu 101: How to Master this Versatile Protein

    The more you know about tofu, the easier it will be to master this versatile protein.

    Tofu may seem intimidating if you’ve never cooked with it before, and preparing it incorrectly may lead you to believe that tofu is squishy, tasteless, and unappetizing.  If you’ve been disappointed or intimidated by tofu, you’re not alone.

    Tofu is made from mature soybeans that are soaked and boiled until soy milk is produced, then the milk is curdled and pressed into blocks in much the same way as dairy cheese is made.  It is a healthy, high-protein alternative to meat products which requires minimal processing and emits 12.5 times less greenhouse gas emissions than beef.


    Follow these helpful tips and tricks to master this healthy and versatile ingredient:
    Choose the right tofu. 

    Not all tofu is the same!  Silken or soft-block tofu is best when used in creamy foods like smoothies, blended soups, pudding desserts, and salad dressings.  Medium soft tofu is best used in miso soup or other dishes that don’t require much handling (as it will break up if treated too roughly).  Firm and extra-firm tofu are the hardiest varieties and are best used in recipes where the tofu is stir-fried or handled more roughly. 

    Firm Tofu
    Always drain and press your block tofu.

    Silken tofu doesn’t require pressing (you can drain it and eat it raw!), but all firmer block tofu should be pressed.  To do so, wrap the tofu in a towel or absorbent cloth and sandwich it between two cutting boards.  Place something heavy (a cast-iron pot or a few pounds of potatoes) on top of the cutting board, which will apply pressure and squeeze any excess water out of the tofu. Press the tofu for 10 minutes.

    Wrapped Tofu
    Pressed Tofu
    Marinate the tofu.

    Once your block tofu is pressed, you’ll want to marinate it, so it becomes a flavorful component of your dish.  Scratch-made marinades are the best for ensuring a flavor profile that compliments the rest of your dish, but in a pinch, you can use any oil-based bottled salad dressing (like a robust Italian dressing) to give your tofu a boost of flavor.  Pressing and then marinating your tofu is essential to making a flavorful tofu-based dish!

    Cook tofu with care. 

    Tofu can become a crispy, delicious part of your dish if prepared correctly.  Pan-frying it will give it a golden brown crust, but if you’re craving something crunchy, try tossing cubed tofu with a tablespoon of oil, tamari, or soy sauce, and 1-2 tablespoons of cornstarch before baking it in the oven.  You can also air-fry tofu with delicious, crispy results.  

    Now that you know the basics of tofu – get out there and try it! 

    There are a ton of great recipes online. To get started, try these two tofu recipes submitted by One Planet Life home chefs:

    Matar “Paneer” with Tofu Makes an Easy Vegan Weeknight Meal

    Surprisingly Good Parmesan Tofu Cutlets in Mariana Sauce

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