Sun-dried tomato pesto is easy to make in 5 minutes with simple ingredients. It's rich, creamy, nutty, and packed with the sweet and savory notes of sun-kissed tomatoes.
The pesto is excellent as a pasta sauce, dip, or spread in a sandwich. It will add character and flavor to any dish.
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Sun-dried tomato pesto, called pesto rosso (red pesto) in Italian, will make you taste the flavors of sunny Mediterranean shores.
Drying tomatoes in the sun make them a concentrate of flavor, making the pesto robust, rich, and packed with umami, a rich and mouthwatering savory taste.
You'll love this sun-dried tomato pesto recipe because it's simple, and you can make it with pantry staples in five minutes.
As usual, feel free to experiment and make it your own. Substitute spinach or arugula for the basil, or add more or less red pepper flakes based on your taste.
Also, we choose to make this sun-dried tomato pesto with a thick and creamy consistency because we like to use it as a spread in sandwiches or flatbreads.
If you want a thinner pesto rosso, for instance, to drizzle on roasted vegetables, or to use as a pasta sauce, add more water or oil until you reach your desired consistency.
Ingredients & Substitutions
We recommend sun-dried tomatoes preserved in oil for pesto rossoe because they are softer, easier to blend, and require much less oil.
Dry sun-dried tomatoes are hard to blend and make the pesto less creamy. You would need to add much more oil to make the recipe work.
An essential ingredient in any pesto, garlic adds a tangy and aromatic spin to this recipe.
We add a small clove to make the pesto kid-friendly, but you can add as many garlic cloves as you like.
You can use walnuts or almonds. Both are popular ingredients in pestos around Mediterranean countries.
Substitute pinenuts for half walnuts if you want to give the recipe an Italian touch.
Grated parmesan cheese is delicious with sun-dried tomatoes, packing the pesto with even more flavor and making it irresistible.
If you are vegan or want to try something new, you can substitute nutritional yeast for parmesan cheese. We often make this variation, and it's delicious!
Three tablespoons of nutritional yeast are enough for this recipe.
Other cheeses that work well for sun-dried tomato pesto are pecorino romano and pecorino sardo, although those two have a more intense and sharp flavor than parmesan.
Extra virgin olive oil
Extra virgin olive oil is the liquid of choice in most pesto recipes. We add some olive oil, but to make the recipe lighter, we also add some water, which allows us to get a creamy pesto that is a little lighter.
Fresh basil leaves are optional; however, it goes well with sun-dried tomatoes adding a beautiful aroma to this recipe.
Salt and Pepper
Add a pinch of sea salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes to add spiciness.
How to make sun-dried tomato pesto
To a blender or food processor, add sun-dried tomatoes drained from most of their oil, walnuts, peeled and chopped garlic, grated parmesan cheese (or nutritional yeast for vegan), extra virgin olive oil, water, salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes.
Blend for a couple of minutes or until you reach a pesto consistency. Scrape down the sides every few seconds.
Now add 15 fresh basil leaves and blend a few more seconds.
Depending on how dry your sun-dried tomatoes are, you might need to add more water until you reach your desired consistency.
Tip: We recommend making a thick pesto that you can use for spreading. You can always make a pesto thinner by adding more water later to use it as a pasta sauce.
Stir the pasta with the sun-dried tomato pesto and add a ladleful or two of reserved pasta water to turn the pesto into a delicious sauce.
Add them to the pasta for an even more delicious meal!
As a spread or dip
You can use the pesto as a spread with bread, in a sandwich, or as an appetizer with grilled veggies. Try it with:
- Naan bread (flour, instant dry yeast, parsley, garlic, olive oil, etc.)
- Pita bread (flour, water, yeast, olive oil, etc.)
- Wrap (flour, water, olive oil, etc.)
- Crostini (baguette, olive oil, garlic, salt, etc.)
- Flatbread pizza (arugula, olives, sauce, etc.)
- Grilled zucchini (zucchini, olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper, parsley, etc.)
- Grilled eggplant (garlic, parsley, olive oil, eggplant, vinegar, etc.)
Vegan sun-dried tomato pesto
This recipe is easy to make vegan. Swap three tablespoons of nutritional yeast for the grated parmesan.
We make this variation often, and we can assure you that it is delicious and you can use it as you'd use the original.
Be flexible with the ingredients. The quantities of oil and water you see below in the recipe box are just an indication. Depending on how dry your sun-dried tomatoes are, you might need to add more or less oil and water.
Use sun-dried tomatoes in oil: sometimes sun-dried tomatoes come in a dry form, which you would have to soak in the oil before using for pesto. That's quite time-consuming, and you'd end up using more oil than if you purchased a jar of sun-dried tomatoes preserved in oil.
Make ahead: sun-dried tomato pesto is an excellent recipe for meal prep as it keeps well in the fridge for about a week.
Refrigerator: keep the pesto in an airtight jar, covered with olive oil, for up to one week.
Freezer: transfer the pesto into a freezing-friendly container and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator.
Alternatively, you can freeze it in an ice cube tray and thaw it, tossing it in the hot pasta.
More pesto recipes
Pestos are excellent because they work as sauces for pasta and salad dressings, but you can also use them on bread and in sandwiches. Our favorite pesto recipes are:
- Basil pesto: an Italian classic that you can make with or without cheese.
- Arugula pesto: a healthy sauce that works wonderfully in pasta and potato salad
- Artichoke pesto: a 5-min creamy and mild sauce that is a perfect pasta condiment
- Parsley pesto is perfect as a drizzle on air-fried and roasted veggies, for example, with asparagus and Brussels sprouts.
- Zucchini pesto is a fresh summer pesto. It's a perfect condiment for grill season and BBQ to drizzle on anything.
More dips and spreads
Get ready for your next get-together with these inviting dip ideas:
- Baba ghanoush (roasted eggplant, tahini, garlic, lemon juice, parsley, etc.)
- Olive tapenade (olive, capers, parsley, olive oil, salt, etc.)
- Avocado spread (garlic, avocado, tahini, lemon juice, etc.)
- Hummus (chickpeas, tahini, lemon, cumin, garlic, water, etc.)
- Muhammara (bell pepper, onion, garlic, tomato paste, pomegranate seeds, etc.)
More sun-dried tomatoes recipes
If you love sundried tomatoes, try these vegetable-packed sundried tomato recipes:
- Stuffed zucchini (ricotta, zucchini, breadcrumbs, sundried tomatoes, garlic, etc.)
- Broccoli salad (broccoli, sundried tomatoes, dried cranberries, mayonnaise, etc.)
- Red pepper pesto (garlic, pine nuts, roasted bell pepper, sundried tomatoes, etc.)
- Romesco sauce (garlic, tomatoes, almonds, red wine vinegar, sundried tomatoes, etc.)
Sun-dried tomato pesto is suitable for...
Vegetarian diets, vegan diets (sub nutritional yeast for parmesan), and gluten-free diets.
Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto
- Food processor or blender
- 1 cup sun-dried tomatoes in oil drained from the oil
- ½ cup walnuts
- ½ cup grated parmesan or 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- 2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- ½ cup water
- 1 clove garlic chopped
- ½ teaspoon salt or more to taste
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper + red pepper flakes for spicy
- 15 fresh basil leaves optional
- To a blender or food processor, add 1 cup sun-dried tomatoes in oil, ½ cup walnuts, ½ cup grated parmesan, 2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, ½ cup water, 1 clove garlic, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon black pepper.
- Blend for a couple of minutes or until you reach a pesto consistency. Scrape down the sides every few seconds.
- Now add 15 fresh basil leaves and blend a few more seconds.
- Depending on how dry your sun-dried tomatoes are, you might need to add more water until you reach your desired consistency.
- Tip: We recommend making a thick pesto that you can use for spreading. You can always make a pesto thinner by adding more water later to use it as a pasta sauce.
- Serving suggestions
- More pesto recipes
- More dips and spreads
- More sun-dried tomatoes recipes