Pasta with Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto, Olives, and Spinach

Kismat and I have wanted to take his parents (who never travel anywhere) to Yosemite for the last few years. It took some convincing, but we finally got them to agree to come with us. In the 30+ years that they’ve lived in California, they’ve never been north of Lancaster. They’re originally from India, and we’re always hearing stories of how beautiful it is in Kashmir and other regions in and around India. Now that they’re retired, we wanted to show them that there are beautiful places in their current home too. Yosemite seemed like a natural place to start this discovery.

Our trip started out a little late on Thursday because I had this nagging unexplained pain in my left calf. I decided it would be smart to go to urgent care before we left, just to make sure it wasn’t anything serious. They did an ultrasound to make sure it wasn’t a blood clot, and when that came back negative, they said it was probably tendonitis or shin splints. The thing is, I’ve been pretty sedentary for the last few weeks, so that explanation doesn’t make much sense to me. Anyway, I had some peace of mind and we went on our way and made it to Yosemite.

On Friday, we explored the valley, taking short walking trips to see the sights. By the middle of the day though, I could barely walk! We made our way back to our cabin and sat around for the evening.

Saturday morning everyone went out for a hike to a local waterfall, while I stayed back to baby my leg. By the afternoon, a storm came in, and I was secretly thankful because it gave me a valid excuse for staying in. We did a 600 piece puzzle, played games, and made this Sun Dried Tomato Pesto Pasta. I had made the pesto in my food processor at home, so it was a cinch to throw together.

I’m disappointed that we didn’t get to do more exploring because of me, but I’m happy that we at least got to go. It was a fun trip, and it was great to have some quality family time. I think they were even impressed.

Pasta with Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto, Olives, and Spinach


About 6 servings

Prep Time / Cook Time


Activity Guide

Bike Touring, Car Camping


  • 3/4 cup pine nuts or walnuts
  • 3/4 cup oil-packed sun dried tomatoes, drained
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 4 cups, reserving 1/3 cup for the sauce
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 pound bow tie pasta
  • 10 ounces spinach
  • 12 ounce jar kalamata olives


  • Cutting board
  • Food processor or blender
  • Knife
  • Large pot
  • Strainer


  1. Make the pesto at home, by combining nuts, sun dried tomatoes, olive oil, and water in a food processor. Season with a few good sized pinches of salt and some pepper. Taste and add more salt if needed. Transfer to a leak-proof jar or tupperware.
  2. Cook the pasta according to package instructions. Meanwhile, half the olives and roughly chop the spinach.
  3. When the pasta is cooked, drain it and return it to the pot. Stir in the pesto, olives and spinach, heating it for just a minute or two, until hot.

9 thoughts on “Pasta with Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto, Olives, and Spinach

  1. I do a variation of this – I make pesto & cook pasta al dente at home as well. Then… I put pesto in with pasta so it marinates. It’s pretty good cold too. If needing protein, I’ll chop up chicken, cook with a portion of pesto & tomatoes, then add precooked pasta to work in chicken juices & heat it up. I like to top w/ feta cheese (wash off olives a little so it’s not too salty) and sprinkle with some more pine nuts and shredded basil.


  2. Do you have to put the pesto in a cooler (does it need refrigeration), or can you pack it to use a few days later?

    1. Hi Sandy! I would probably keep the pesto in a cooler to be safe, mostly cause it has water in it, which could lead to nasty things growing.

  3. We’ve made many of your recipes for our family camping trips. This one is perhaps our favorite – the kids and adults love it, and you can put most of it together at home, which is a big plus. Another plus is that it’s vegan. We first made this on a cold day in Glacier National Park, and most recently on the Whanganui River Trip in New Zealand, and everyone loved it. Thanks for all the great camping recipe ideas! When I am looking for something new, your website is my first stop!

    1. We’re so happy to be a part of your camping trips (which sound incredible, by the way). Let us know if you have any great ideas or adaptations that you’ve surely come up with along the way. We love the inspiration! Happy New Year!

  4. Consider wild harvesting nettles to make nettle pesto. One option is to harvest with gloves, bring nettles home to wash them, then stick them through food processor to break up the formic acid (stinging hairs!) then add fresh lemon, fresh garlic, garden chives, olive oil, grated parmeasn cheese. Also try different versions: pecan, walnut, hazlenut, pinenut. My fav is pecan…Just throw them in food processor and grind them with the nettles. Another option is to just harvest them in the wild, use a mortar and pestle or something to ‘mash them up’ well, or steam them until they turn bright green and and get ‘limp.’ Then mix all the rest with them. Learn ahead of your hikes what is edible in the wild and learn what you are legally permitted to harvest (national, state, county parks all have different regulations) and enjoy harvesting wild foods.

  5. Just delicious! I lightened the recipe by omitting the 1/2c olive oil and used some of the oil in the jar of sun dried tomatoes. I added water to the blender as needed to get the right consistency. Kids loved it!

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