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.

    Easy Tomato Pasta Soup

    Easy Tomato Pasta Soup

    This easy Tomato Pasta Soup recipe is perfect for a fall evening. It is simple, light and hearty at the same time.  Serve the soup with a glass of lemonade for a comforting meal.

    This recipe is originally from The Blue Zone Kitchens by Dan Buettner, with my minor adjustments.

    Serves: 4


    4 cups water

    2 cups vegetable broth

    2 fresh tomatoes, chopped

    1 cup tomato paste

    2 tablespoons olive oil

    1 pound orzo

    1 teaspoon salt

    Salt and pepper to taste


    Tomato Pasta Soup Recipe
    • In a large pot bring water and vegetable broth to a boil.
    • Add tomatoes, tomato paste, olive oil and 1 teaspoon salt.  Stir to combine.
    • Reduce heat to low and simmer for about 20- 25 minutes. Stir to make sure the orzo does not stick to the bottom of the pot. Note: using a non-stick pot makes this easy.
    • Serve and add salt and pepper to taste.
    Lorie Buckingham Home Chef

    OPL Founder & Wayfinder Lorie Buckingham shares a favorite recipe.

    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.

    Pasta with Cheese, Herbs and Lemon

    Pasta with Cheese, Herbs and Lemon

    This recipe is a lovely adult version of pasta and cheese. Herbs and lemon combined with the parmesan cheese and pasta is a simple yet elegant meal. It is easy to make, so it is a weekday go-to-favorite!

    Servings: 2


    • 6 oz angel hair or other thin pasta
    • 2-3 tablespoons of fresh herbs chopped; choose from what you have such as basil, thyme, parsley, sage, rosemary, or others)  If using dried herbs reduce the amount to a teaspoon.
    • 2 garlic cloves sliced
    • ⅓ cup grated parmesan cheese
    • 1 lemon; grate the lemon zest and add to the parmesan cheese; juice the lemon removing seeds)
    • Olive oil 
    Spaghetti pasta

    Step 1:  Bring a large pot of water with a generous amount of salt to a boil. Add pasta and cook at a rolling boil for 4-5 minutes.

    Step 2:  In a large skillet, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and heat on medium. Add the garlic and herbs and cook gently for a couple of minutes to release the fragrance.  Take the skillet off heat until pasta is ready. 

    Step 3:  Keep ½ cup of the pasta water and put aside.  Then drain the pasta and using tongs place the pasta in the skillet with the garlic and herbs.  Turn on heat and toss pasta with herbs for 1-2 minutes. Add the ½ cup pasta water and the lemon juice.  Toss the pasta some more.  Turn off the heat.

    Step 4:  Add the parmesan cheese and lemon zest to the pasta. (Note: you can retain some for topping the pasta before serving.) Toss the pasta with the cheese and zest until evenly combined. Add salt and pepper to taste; usually very little is needed. 

    Step 5:  Using the tongs, evenly divide the pasta into two plates and top with parmesan

    Sam Shane Image

    Recipe compliments of Home Chef and OPL Community member Sam 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.

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