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15 Minute Pesto Rosso Pasta (Red Pesto Pasta)

Pesto Rosso pasta is a pasta dish made with a delicious homemade savory sauce. This easy weeknight meal comes together in only 15 minutes and is both dairy free and gluten free.

Pesto rosso goes by many names such as red pesto, pesto alla siciliana, or sun-dried tomato pesto. Unlike traditional green pesto (also known as pesto alla Genovese), the base is made of sun-dried tomatoes and uses a smaller amount of fresh basil. Originally, almonds were used instead of pine nuts, but now there are many different variations like this recipe. 

Homemade pesto is exponentially more flavorful than storebought so I highly recommend making your own pesto rosso. The sundried tomatoes give it a concentrated, rich tomato flavor that’s ever so slightly sweet yet tangy.

For more sun-dried tomato pesto recipes, try my creamy sun-dried tomato pesto chicken and dairy free stuffed peppers, or use it in a pizza wrap.

Ingredients

  • Any type of pasta – I like using fusilli or rigatoni pasta. Use your favorite gluten free pasta if needed.
  • Oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes – look for a jar that uses extra-virgin olive oil for the best savory flavor.
  • Whole roasted red peppers – you can always make your own, but for ease, I use them from a jar. This adds more depth of flavor to the sauce.
  • Fresh basil leaves – a key ingredient in traditional basil pesto.
  • Toasted walnuts – add a rich nuttiness.
  • Garlic cloves – flavor booster.
  • Lemon juice – adds brightness and balances out the rich flavor of the other ingredients.
  • Nutritional yeast – this is used in place of parmesan cheese to keep it dairy-free.
  • Extra virgin olive oil – flavor and texture.
  • Kosher salt – to taste.
  • Freshly ground black pepper – to taste.

How to Make Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto Pasta

Step 1. Cook the pasta in a pot of salted boiling water until al dente according to package directions. Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water before draining.

Step 2. Add all the pesto ingredients to the bowl of a food processor including the oil from the jar of sun-dried tomatoes. Blend until everything is well combined and has reached your desired consistency. 

Step 3. Place the cooked pasta back in the pot and place it over medium-low heat. Add in the red pesto sauce and toss to combine. Add in a little of the reserved pasta water if needed. Season to taste with more salt and pepper as needed. 

Make It Your Way: Substitutions & Variations

Please remember that recipes are just a starting point.

How can you make this sun-dried-tomato pesto pasta using what you already have? Here are some ideas…

  • No oil-packed sundried tomatoes? – if you can only find dry-packed tomatoes, you’ll also need to add ½ cup extra virgin olive oil in total to get the right consistency.
  • No walnuts? – use pine nuts or almonds.
  • Make it creamier – stir in coconut cream, cashew cream, or dairy free cream cheese.
  • Add-ins – red pepper flakes for heat, halved cherry tomatoes to the pasta, and cooked sausage or chicken to make it more filling.
  • Use another red pesto – such as roasted red pepper pesto.

How to Store

Let cool to room temperature before storing in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4-5 days.

More Pesto Recipes

15 Minute Pesto Rosso Pasta (Red Pesto Pasta)

5 from 1 vote
Red pesto fusilli pasta on a plate with fresh basil leaves next to a small bowl of more fresh basil leaves.
Pesto rosso pasta is a pasta dish made with a delicious homemade savory sauce. This easy weeknight meal comes together in only 15 minutes and is both dairy free and gluten free.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Serving Size 4

Ingredients
 

  • 12 ounces pasta of choice I used fusilli

Red Pesto Sauce (Pesto Rosso)

  • 8.5 ounce jar oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes see notes below
  • 1 roasted red pepper from a jar
  • ½ cup fresh basil leaves
  • cup toasted walnuts
  • 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • ½ lemon, juiced
  • kosher salt to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Cook the pasta in a pot of salted boiling water until al dente according to package directions. Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water before draining.
  • Add all the pesto ingredients to the bowl of a food processor including the oil from the jar of sun-dried tomatoes. Blend until everything is well combined and has reached your desired consistency. 
  • Place the cooked pasta back in the pot and place it over medium-low heat. Add in the red pesto sauce and toss to combine. Add in a little of the reserved pasta water if needed. Season to taste with more salt and pepper as needed. 

Notes

See the blog post for storage tips.

Make It Your Way: Substitutions & Variations

No oil-packed sundried tomatoes? – if you can only find dry-packed tomatoes, you’ll also need to add ½ cup extra virgin olive oil in total to get the right consistency.
No walnuts? – use pine nuts or almonds.
Make it creamier – stir in coconut cream, cashew cream, or dairy free cream cheese.
Add-ins – red pepper flakes for heat, halved cherry tomatoes to the pasta, and cooked sausage or chicken to make it more filling. 
Use another red pesto – such as roasted red pepper pesto.

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