Sun Dried Tomato Pesto (Pesto Rosso)

5 from 1 vote

This Homemade Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto Sauce (Pesto Rosso, Red Pesto) is a Sicilian variation of the traditional basil pesto. It comes together in just 5 minutes and uses a handful of ingredients.

You can also try my Avocado Basil Pesto, Basil Mint Pesto, and Walnut Basil Pesto if you are looking for more varieties of Pesto.

Homemade sun dried tomato pesto sauce served in a bowl.
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About Sun Dried Tomato Pesto (Pesto Rosso)

Love tomatoes? Love basil? Then, you are in for a treat with this amazing Homemade Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto Sauce (Pesto Rosso, Red Pesto), a Sicilian variation of the traditional basil pesto.

Rich red, this tomato pesto is tangy, slightly sweet, savory, and loaded with umami flavor from the dried tomatoes. This condiment is addictive, flavorful, and super versatile.

Pesto Rosso comes to my rescue on days when I come back home tired from work, or it’s a school night, and I have no time to put together a meal. I toss my favorite pasta, roasted vegetables, or grilled chicken in this delicious sauce, and a delicious meal is ready in no time.

Although red pesto is easily available in the market, I prefer making it at home. Homemade pesto is free of chemicals, colors, and preservatives. It is made using the best ingredients and is still very economical. Plus, it takes just a few minutes to make, so there is no excuse not to make it at home.

It is a great make-ahead recipe. You can pre-make this delicious pesto over the weekend and keep using it for the whole week. You can also make a double batch and freeze some of it.

This sun-dried tomato pesto recipe is gluten-free and can be easily made vegan.

Remember that the color of the pesto depends on the quality of the tomatoes used. It could range from a deep red hue to a greyish red color pesto. Nonetheless, the taste will be awesome.

Here are some more homemade sauce recipes: Schezwan Sauce, Thai Sweet Chili Sauce, Cilantro Chimichurri Sauce, Cilantro Garlic Sauce, and Thai Peanut Sauce.

You must also try Bang Bang Sauce, Lemon Herb Tahini, Sour Cream Pasta Sauce, and Asian Zing Sauce.

Ingredients

Sun-dried tomato pesto ingredients 1
sun-dried tomato pesto ingredients 2

Sun-Dried Tomatoes – You can use dry or sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil. If you use the dry ones, you will need to use more oil while blending.

Find the dry sundried tomatoes in the produce section and the oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes in the aisle of your grocery store with canned vegetables.

Also, try to pick the tomatoes that have nothing else added. If using the ones with garlic and herbs added, reduce the amount of these two ingredients in the recipe.

The color of the pesto will depend upon the type of sun-dried tomatoes you use.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil – Oil adds great texture to the pesto and a nice flavor. For the best flavor, make sure you use high-quality extra-virgin olive oil.

Parmesan Cheese – If parmesan cheese is unavailable, substitute it with Pecorino, Asiago, or nutritional yeast for a vegan pesto.

Toasted Almonds – Toast the almonds before adding them to the pesto. Make sure you toast on low heat; otherwise, there is a chance that the almonds will get burnt.

You can also replace the almonds with cashews, pine nuts, walnuts, pecans, peanuts, or pistachios. A mix of nuts will also work great.

Sunflower seeds are also a great substitute for nuts.

Italian Basil Leaves (Sweet Basil) – When selecting basil leaves, look for fresh ones. They are very aromatic and add a delicious flavor.

You can also replace fresh basil leaves with other herbs (greens) like mint, parsley, spinach, arugula, cilantro, or kale.

Rosemary – Another herb that plays an important role in this pesto is rosemary. It is optional but adds a great taste. I used dried rosemary, but you can use a fresh one, too.

Others – You will also need garlic cloves, salt, freshly cracked black pepper, and red pepper flakes. Adjust the red pepper flakes to taste.

Add some extra flavor by adding oil-cured black olives, artichokes, roasted eggplant, avocado, or roasted red peppers to the recipe.

You can also add lemon juice, lemon zest, a splash of white wine, or balsamic vinegar for a slight tanginess and a refreshing flavor.

In some regions of Italy, fresh ripe cherry tomatoes are used to make pesto rosso (red pesto) instead of sun-dried tomatoes. You can try that variation, too.

How To Make Sun Dried Tomato Pesto

Preparation

Peel garlic and shred the parmesan cheese.

Toast the almonds.

You can also coarsely chop the sun-dried tomatoes and crush the toasted almonds for easy blending.

Gather the remaining ingredients.

Make The Pesto

Add the following ingredients to a high-speed blender or a food processor and blend until a slightly coarse paste is made.

  • 2 cups dry sun-dried tomatoes (or sun-dried tomatoes soaked in oil)
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic (peeled)
  • 2 cups extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup toasted whole almonds
  • 1 cup (packed) Italian basil leaves
  • 1 tablespoon dried rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup shredded parmesan cheese

Scrape the sides of the blender a few times.

Note – If sun-dried tomatoes are soaked in oil, use 1 cup instead of 2 cups. Use the oil in which they were soaked to blend the pesto, as the oil also has a lot of flavors.

All the ingredients added to a blender.

Transfer the pesto to a clean, airtight glass jar. Cover with a thin layer of olive oil and refrigerate for 5-6 days or freeze for up to 3 months.

Note – This recipe will make approximately 2 and ½ cups of pesto. You can easily half, double, or triple the recipe.

Ready sun-dried tomato pesto.

Frequently Asked Questions

How to make a vegan sun-dried tomato pesto recipe?

If you want to make a vegan version of this pesto, skip adding the parmesan cheese or replace it with 2-3 tablespoon of nutritional yeast.

Which tomatoes are best to make pesto Rosso?

You can choose sundried plum tomatoes, San Marzano tomatoes, Roma tomatoes, or whichever variety is easily available.

How to make pesto Rosso without nuts?

Skip the nuts to make nut-free tomato pesto. You will hardly feel any difference, and the pesto will still taste delicious.

How do I make sun-dried tomato pesto without basil?

You can make this pesto without the basil or by replacing it with other herbs like parsley, cilantro, or mint.

How to toast almonds?

Add the almonds to a pan. Cook the almonds for 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally until lightly browned and fragrant. Remove the pan from the heat and let the almonds cool before using them.

To roast the almonds in an oven, Preheat your oven to 360°F. Spread the almonds out on a baking sheet in an even layer. Bake the almonds for 10-12 minutes, stirring once or twice, until lightly browned and fragrant. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and let the almonds cool before using them.

Serving Suggestions

Tomato pesto is a very versatile sauce and tastes good with almost everything.

I like to use it as a spread for pizza, flatbreads, crostini, bruschetta, or crusty Italian bread topped with feta or goat cheese. It also makes a great sandwich spread.

It makes an awesome pasta sauce. Toss any cooked pasta, such as penne, spaghetti, fettuccine, zucchini noodles, etc., with this pesto to make tomato pesto pasta. If the sauce is too thick, thin it down with some cooking water. If you want to make a creamy sauce, add some heavy cream to it.

Serve it as a dip with crackers or pita chips.

Mix a little in hummus or Baba Ganoush for a tomatoey kick.

Roasted cauliflower topped with pesto Rosso tastes amazing. You can also drizzle it over roasted veggies, gnocchi, or soups.

Slather it while making grilled cheese, panini, or sandwiches.

Serve it on the side with roasted chicken breasts or seafood.

Top the red pesto sauce over fried or Air Fryer Hard Boiled Eggs for a healthy breakfast.

Add it to pasta salads.

Storage Suggestions

Transfer the leftover pesto to a nonreactive, airtight container and cover it with a thin layer of olive oil. Refrigerate for 5-6 days.

You can even freeze it in freezer-safe containers for up to 3 months. I like to freeze it in smaller portions in ice cube trays. This way, I can thaw one or two cubes as needed instead of the entire batch.

The oil solidifies when kept in the fridge for a few hours. Thaw it on the counter for a few hours to bring it to room temperature before using.

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This Homemade Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto Sauce (Pesto Rosso, Red Pesto) is a Sicilian variation of the traditional basil pesto. It comes together in just 5 minutes and uses a handful of ingredients.
5 from 1 vote

Homemade Sun Dried Tomato Pesto Sauce Recipe (Pesto Rosso)

This Homemade Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto Sauce (Pesto Rosso, Red Pesto) is a Sicilian variation of the traditional basil pesto. It comes together in just 5 minutes and uses a handful of ingredients.
Cook: 5 minutes
Total: 5 minutes
Servings: 4 people

Ingredients 

  • 2 cups sun dried tomatoes (dry or soaked in oil)
  • 3-4 cloves garlic (peeled)
  • 2 cups extra virgin olive oil (use only 1 cup of oil if using sun-dried tomatoes soaked in oil)
  • ¼ cup toasted whole almonds (crush them if your blender is not heavy-duty)
  • 1 cup fresh Italian basil leaves (packed, rinsed)
  • 1 tablespoon dried rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
  • ½ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup shredded parmesan cheese (skip or use nutritional cheese for vegan pesto)
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Instructions 

  • Add all the ingredients to a high-speed blender or a food processor and blend until a slightly coarse paste is made.
  • Scrape the sides of the blender a few times while blending.
  • Transfer the pesto to a clean airtight glass jar. Refrigerate for 5-6 days or freeze for up to 3 months.

Video

YouTube video

Notes

You can also replace the almonds with pine nuts, walnuts, pecans, peanuts, or pistachios, or a mix of nuts.
Sunflower seeds are also a great substitute for nuts.
You can also replace fresh basil with other herbs (greens) like mint, parsley, spinach, arugula, cilantro, or kale.
Add some extra flavor by adding oil-cured black olives, artichokes, roasted eggplant, avocado, or roasted red bell peppers to the recipe.
You can add some lemon juice, a splash of white wine, or balsamic vinegar for a slight tanginess and a refreshing flavor.
In some regions of Italy, fresh ripe cherry tomatoes are used to make pesto rosso (red pesto) instead of sun-dried tomatoes. You can try that variation, too.

Nutrition

Calories: 348kcal, Carbohydrates: 35g, Protein: 19g, Fat: 18g, Saturated Fat: 5g, Cholesterol: 17mg, Sodium: 542mg, Potassium: 1998mg, Fiber: 8g, Sugar: 21g, Vitamin A: 1090IU, Vitamin C: 23.8mg, Calcium: 405mg, Iron: 6mg
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