Pesto Rosso (Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto)

10 ounces
5 min

An excellent change from the traditional basil pesto, pesto rosso is a delicious Italian condiment with sun-dried tomatoes as the main ingredient. It is vibrantly colored and has a deep flavor of garlic, herbs, and olive oil.

Whether you love unconventional flavors or can’t resist sun-dried tomatoes, this pesto rosso recipe is perfect. Pesto rosso translates to "red pesto" and has a beautiful deep red color and a strong flavor that is difficult to beat.

Made with simple ingredients in just a few minutes, this  recipe pairs perfectly with pasta, meats, and fish and tastes delicious as a sandwich spread. This delightful sauce adds a pop flavor to any dish. If daring, try using this pasta puttanesca  recipe instead of tomato sauce.

I recommend making this recipe in large batches and freezing individual servings in ice cube trays. When you are ready, all you have to do is warm it up for 20 seconds in the microwave, and it is ready to go!

Pesto rosso Ingredients.


Sun-dried tomato pesto recipes can be made in numerous variations by substituting some ingredients. Some of these variations include:

  • Parmesan cheese swap- can be substituted with asiago cheese or romano cheese.
  • Vegan swap - If you want to keep the recipe vegan, add nutritional yeast in place of cheese, or you can skip the cheese altogether.
  • Basil swap- If you aren’t a fan of basil, it can always be substituted with other greens such as parsley, spinach, or arugula.
  • Pine nut swap - can be swapped with walnuts, almonds, pistachios, or pecans.


  • Spicy- Do you love spicy dips and sauces, add chili flakes to kick up the heat!
  • Dip - Mix with cream cheese to create a flavorful dip. Serve with toasted french bread (crusty bread).
  • Additional Meditarrian flavor - Add roasted red peppers, olives, red pepper flakes, or artichoke hearts.
  • Nut-free - add sunflower seeds or white beans in place of the pine nuts.

Pairing Ideas

Sun-dried tomato pesto is versatile, which means you can devour it with numerous dishes, including:

  • Dip - To create a delicious dip, mix it with cream cheese. I recommend serving it with fresh bread or as a roasted veggie dip.
  • Sandwich - use in place of mayo or mustard.
  • Pasta - Mix with freshly cooked pasta, gnocchi, or zucchini noodles. To make pasta sauce, add tomato sauce and top with quartered cherry tomatoes.
  • Salad Dressing - Can be made into a fantastic salad dressing by combining it with red wine vinegar (or lemon juice) and extra-virgin olive oil.
  • Pizza sauce - Spread evenly across the pizza dough and use in place of tomato sauce.
Pesto rosso as bruschetta on sourdough.

Frequently Asked Questions

How is Pesto Rosso Different from Traditional Basil Pesto? Sun-dried tomatoes are used as the base instead of fresh basil leaves, giving it a beautiful red color. Moreover, this recipe includes a couple of basil leaves to add a fresh taste. Some people also add roasted red peppers or chili. On the contrary, basil is made with basil as the primary ingredient along with parmesan, garlic, olive oil, and pine nuts. The difference doesn’t lie in color only, but in the ingredients.

Is Pesto Rosso Vegan? The traditional recipe is not vegan. The sauce uses garlic, basil, parmesan cheese, pine nuts, and oil. However, you can easily remove dairy, and use a non-dairy cheese or nutritional yeast to make it vegan. You can also leave out the cheese or swap it with nutritional yeast.

Can I use Fresh Tomatoes to Make Pesto Rosso? Yes, but the texture will be impacted. Start by using half the amount of needed tomatoes and add tomato paste. After blending, cook in a small saucepan for a few minutes to thicken the sauce.


Refrigerator storage instructions - Yes, place in an airtight container and store for up to one week in the fridge. When chilled, the oils in the sauce will solidify. Bring it to room temperature before serving, and it will be delicious and spreadable again.

Freezer storage instructions - Place in a small container or use an ice cube tray to freeze individual portions. Once frozen, place the cubes in a Ziploc bag or other airtight container. Before using it, I recommend placing it in the fridge for a day to let it defrost

Pesto Rosso (Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto)
Recipe details
  • 10  ounces
  • Prep time: 5 Minutes Cook time: 0 Minutes Total time: 5 min
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  • ▢ 4 ounces sun-dried tomatoes, preferbly packed in oil
  • ▢ 1/4 cup basil leaves
  • ▢ 1/4 cup grated parmesan chees or vegan cheese alternative
  • ▢ 2 tablespoons pine nuts
  • ▢ 1 garlic clove
  • ▢ salt and pepper to taste
  • ▢ 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ▢ 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional

Place the sun-dried tomatoes, basil, pine nuts, parmesan cheese, and garlic into a food processor. Slowly add the olive oil while pulsing until you reach the desired consistency. (Genrerlly pulse 3 - 5 times.)
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