"Pesto Rosso" is a flavorful red pesto made with sun-dried tomatoes, Parmigiano cheese, and almonds, typical from Sicily. Ready in just a few minutes, will turn your pasta into a delicious dinner. If you're looking for a quick and easy pasta sauce, made with less than 5 ingredients, this is perfect for you!
What are Sun-Dried Tomatoes?
Sun-dried tomatoes are called "Pomodori Secchi" in Italy and they are mostly produced in the Southern regions of Italy where tomatoes grow abundantly and the summer is scorching hot. This process was born as a way to preserve tomatoes for winter, along with tomato sauce, and tomato concentrate.
The tomatoes, typically the San Marzano variety, are halved and laid on a large grid and sprinkled with salt (and sometimes chili pepper). The tables are then left outside the whole day under the hot sun and then moved indoors during the night to avoid humidity. The drying process takes about 1 week.
The dried tomatoes are then either stored as they are, or in jars filled with olive oil, garlic, and herbs. They are then consumed as appetizers, during aperitivo, or add in salads, tapenade, and red pesto.
How to make Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto
The word "Pesto" can be roughly translated as "beaten", because it describes the process of mincing the ingredients with a pestle in a marble mortar. The most famous Pesto is of course the Basil Pesto, made with basil leaves, pine nuts, and Parmigiano cheese.
The requirement for a sauce to be called Pesto is that it must have olive oil, nuts, and cheese. Then you can add extra ingredients, from herbs to vegetables.
You can make any Pesto with the traditional pestle and mortar, or you can use a small food processor. The only risk with a food processor is that if it's too large, you won't be able to mince all the ingredients unless you double or triple the recipe.
In both ways, you start by adding all the ingredients in a mortar or food processor, except for the olive oil. Pulse or crush all the ingredients to finely mince them. Then slowly start adding the olive oil until you get a paste. It shouldn't be too liquid.
You can change a few ingredients in this recipe to personalize the Pesto Rosso or make it vegan for example. These are my recommendations.
- Sun-Dried Tomatoes: This is the main ingredients so there is no substitution. But if you can't find the sun-dried tomatoes marinated in olive oil and only have the dried ones, you can of course use them. You then need to rehydrate them in hot water for at least 30 minutes before using them. You may also need to adjust the recipe adding more oil and salt to get the same flavor.
- Parmigiano cheese: You can use any aged cheese that you prefer, such as Pecorino for example. If you want to make this recipe vegan, you can also use vegan cheese as substitute.
- Almonds: I used peeled almonds for the best consistency and flavor. You can also use unpeeled almonds or any other nut of your choice, such as walnuts, pine nuts, or cashews.
- Olive Oil: Use good quality extra-virgin olive oil only. I don't recommend any substitutions because the flavor would not be the same.
- Garlic: I decided to not add any garlic in my recipe, but you can of course add 1 or 2 cloves, depending on your taste.
Faq & Tips
Yes. Red Pesto or Pesto Rosso is just another name for this sun-dried tomato pesto. It's typical from Sicily, where the sun-dried tomatoes are abundantly produced and it's just one of the many varieties of Pesto recipes made in Italy.
Yes, but I recommend using a small food processor for this recipe, otherwise, there is the risk that the ingredients will not be minced enough. If you have a large food processor, you can double the recipe.
You can keep the pesto in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.
Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto
- 12 oz Pasta
- 1.8 oz Sun-Dried Tomatoes, 5 large
- 3 tablespoon Parmigiano cheese
- 2 ½ tablespoon Almonds, peeled
- 4 tablespoon Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
- Chili Pepper flakes
- Basil, optional for garnish
- Bring a large pot of salted water to boil, then toss in the pasta.
- In a mortar or a food processor, add the sun-dried tomatoes, Parmigiano cheese, almonds, a pinch of chili pepper flakes, and a pinch of salt.
- Pulse and mince all the ingredients, then add the olive oil, 1 tablespoon at a time, until you get a paste. Taste and adjust the seasoning if needed.
- Drain the pasta al dente and set aside a cup of pasta water.
- In a bowl or in the same pot, add the pasta and the red pesto. Add a few tablespoons of pasta water at a time and mix well until the pesto becomes a creamy sauce.
- Serve with fresh basil leaves on top.
Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.
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