This delicious Red Pesto sauce recipe is a seriously quick, easy, and exceptionally delicious dish that’s whipped up in minutes.
Serve with homemade garlic bread for the ultimate Italian meal.
Isn’t pesto one of the best things ever created? The flavor is so fresh and vibrant! When it’s homemade, it just explodes with bold flavor.
Why This Recipe Works
- Using the oil that the sun-dried tomatoes are packed in adds extra complexity to the sauce.
- Using fresh herbs adds a punch of flavor you can’t get with dried.
- Parmesan cheese adds a creamy element that adds the perfect balance.
Quick And Easy Red Pesto Pasta (Pesto Rosso)
Pesto Rosso (red pesto in Italian) sauce is a delectable and straightforward pasta sauce that’s perfect for when you need a last-minute meal.
It’s hard to find a meal that can go from stove to table in just fifteen minutes, and this recipe is not only easy but also delicious! I prefer the rich taste of a red pesto over the robust and peppery taste of green pesto.
What Is Red Pesto Sauce Made Of?
There are a lot of variations of red pesto (Pesto Rosso) out there; this recipe leans heavily on fresh ingredients that add a punch of flavor. Here’s what you need: Sun-dried tomatoes, basil, roasted red peppers, parsley, and a Parmesan cheese.
I know most red pesto recipes call for pine nuts, but I created this recipe for a friend who is not only a vegetarian but also has an allergy. If you prefer the pine nuts, it will go fine with this recipe, so feel free to add them if you’d like.
Which Sun Dried Tomatoes
Sun-dried tomatoes come either dry-packed or jarred in oil. This recipe calls for jarred, but be sure to check the ingredients and choose one without added herbs.
Dry-packed can be used too. They will need to be soaked in hot water for fifteen minutes to rehydrate, and you have to add a quarter to a half cup of olive oil to the food processor before blending.
How To Make Red Pesto Sauce
- Make the pasta according to the package instructions.
- Blend sun-dried tomatoes along with their oil, red roasted peppers, garlic, basil, Parmesan cheese, and parsley in a food processor until smooth.
- Drain the pasta reserving some pasta water.
- Add the pesto mixture to the pasta pot. Add cooked pasta to the pesto, toss to coat, and add enough of the reserved cooking liquid to moisten to the desired consistency.
On Raw Garlic
Raw garlic can be harsh for some people. If you want the flavor without the intensity, cut the garlic into thick slices and saute for in olive oil for a minute before adding it to the food processor.
How To Make Ahead Red Pesto Sauce
To make ahead, simply bend the pesto mixture, adding hot water until it reaches the desired consistency. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper as needed. Then add to a jar or airtight container and refrigerate for up to three days.
What To Serve With Red Pesto Sauce
Cook with sauteed shrimp, chicken, or roasted vegetables and serve alone or mixed in with pasta.
Recipe Tips & Variations
- When choosing sundried tomatoes and red roasted peppers, be sure to choose a jar packed in oil without herbs or spices added to them, so you don’t affect the flavors in the recipe.
- Some Parmesan cheese is quite salty, so be sure to taste before adding seasoning.
- For a spicy kick, add fresh red chili peppers or jalapeno before blending.
- Add the sauce to the pan with sauteed shrimp for a whole new dish.
Other Italian Dishes You’ll Love
Green Pesto is made by blending pine nuts with fresh basil, Parmesan cheese, garlic, and olive oil. Red pesto is made with a base of sun-dried tomatoes or roasted peppers.
Yes, just add to an airtight container and freeze for up to three months.
Pesto is loaded with essential vitamins and antioxidants such as lycopene (which protects against cell damage) and vitamin C.
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Red Pesto Sauce
- 8 ounces Angel Hair Pasta
- 8 oz sun-dried tomatoes (packed in olive) undrained
- 1 roasted red pepper (from a jar of whole roasted red peppers)
- 3 garlic cloves
- ½ cup fresh basil leaves well packed
- ¼ cup fresh parsley leaves well packed
- ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- olive oil as needed
- salt and pepper to taste
- Cook pasta in salted water until al dente. Reserve 1 cup pasta cooking water prior to draining.
- While pasta cooks, blend the sun-dried tomatoes along with their oil, roasted red peppers, garlic, basil, parsley, and Parmesan cheese in a food processor and blend until it forms a thick paste adding extra olive oil until smooth. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper as needed
- Drain pasta and return to pot. Mix in the pesto and ½ cup reserved pasta water until the pesto begins to form a sauce that clings to the pasta. Add more pasta water as needed to achieve desired consistency. Serve hot.
Tips + Notes
- When choosing sundried tomatoes and red roasted peppers, be sure to choose a jar packed in oil without herbs or spices added to them so you don’t affect the flavors in the recipe.
- Some Parmesan cheese is quite salty so be sure to taste before adding seasoning.
Update Notes: This recipe was orginally published in 2014, but was updated with new photos and tips in 2020.