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Pesto Rosso

While fresh basil makes a showing in pesto rosso, this olive-oil based Sicilian pesto features sundried tomatoes that makes a delicious red pesto that can be served on fresh bread, al dente pasta, or even a marinade.


We had 2 more soccer games, summer hockey for Mark and I started tonight, next weekend is Memorial Day weekend, the end to the school year is RIGHT around the corner, and we’re off to Alaska in no time. Oh, and I have successfully survived my first week as a student completing Anatomy and Physiology. My chemistry and science classes are flooding back and I must say, I don’t hate it…at all! Finding the time and the pressure to do well are the hard parts, but the content itself is incredibly interesting and precisely why I am exploring this second (third) degree in nursing. 

It’s been busy but the weekday evenings are actually looking to be less chaotic with summer, meaning more time for family dinners on the front porch and enjoying the offerings of summer. One of those simple ingredients being basil fresh from the garden. Our yield isn’t yet to traditioanl pesto Genovese volumes, but there was plenty to add as a fresh herb in this stunning rosso pesto. You’ll love it!


  • No-Cook: One of the best things about pesto is that its preparation requires no cooking whatsoever with only a handful of ingredients.
  • Weeknight Warriors: This recipe comes together quickly in a food processor and completes your favorite pasta dishes in a matter of minutes.
  • Umami Chasers: You know those bites of a dish that send your taste buds into new, expansive places? Umami. This homemade pesto will take you there.
  • Versatile: This delicious Italian condiment can makes for a versatile sauce that can be used any number of ways.


  • Tomatoes: While there are versions of pesto rosso that use fresh tomatoes that are cooked and reduced, the rich, intense flavor of dry-packed tomatoes provides that unique savory flavor. You can use oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes in lieu of dry.
  • Almonds: Pine nuts, walnuts, or sunflower seeds would be the best alternatives.
  • Garlic: Fresh cloves of garlic is definitely best – use more, less…or none, as you prefer. However, feel free to use jarred minced garlic clove or substitute in 1 teaspoon of garlic powder, if you prefer.
  • Basil: Fresh basil is a key ingredient — other fresh herbs will change the flavor profile considerably. 
  • Salt: The salt pulls the sweetness from the tomatoes and makes for an even deeper flavor. That said, you can use more or less to your liking or substitute in salt substitute, if desired.
  • Olive Oil: Using a high-quality extra virgin olive oil offers full, rich flavor and is an excellent choice for its antioxidants and monounsaturated fat content. Avocado oil, sunflower oil, or safflower oil will work well, too.
  • Parmesan Cheese: Substitute in any hard grated cheese such as Parmigiano Reggiano or Romano, or for a vegan option, nutritional yeast*.
  • Crushed Red Pepper Flakes: Use more or less chili flakes to your liking. This small amount does not make for a spicy pesto whatsoever, it simply adds to the umami flavor profile.


  • Store this pesto in an airtight container in the fridge for 5-7 days. Bring to room temperature before using.
  • Double the recipe and freeze leftovers so you always have homemade, delicious, rich pesto ready in no time.
  • The traditional green pesto, pesto Genovese, is a staple in my house however pesto rosso is a most-deserving recipe to try and can be served tons of ways, just like traditional pesto.
  • If you prefer a thinner or thicker pesto, adjust the olive oil to the desired consistency.


How can you store leftover pesto?

Freeze leftover pesto in an ice cube trays that can later be removed from the ice-cube tray after freezing and moved to a ziplock bag. Alternatively, freeze pesto in airtight container or ziploc bag and defrost as needed. Pesto can freeze for up to 3 months with good results.

Why do you microwave the tomatoes before pureeing?

​Microwaving with a bit of water allows the tomatoes to soften a bit — they tend to be a bit rubbery in texture and depending on the strength and quality of your food processor, the processor may produce a better product with slightly softened tomatoes. You can definitely skip this step or use sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil.

​How do you recommend serving this pesto? 

We served the pesto rosso over store-bought Italian sausage tortellini for a super quick dinner. We’ve also enjoyed it on toaste baguette with fresh mozzarella, as a “cimichurri” or sorts on seafood and meats, and as a marinade or dressing that has a bit more olive oil and red wine vinegar added. The exact quantities aren’t important, add ingredients slowly and test it as you go.


  • Vegetarian and gluten-free
  • Easily made vegan*
  • Easily made nut-free by using sunflower seeds
  • Rich in unsaturated fats and offers fiber 

Pesto Rosso

Pesto Rosso

Yield: 8 servings (about 1/4 cup each)
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes

While fresh basil makes a showing in pesto rosso, this olive-oil based Sicilian pesto features sundried tomatoes that makes a delicious red pesto.


  • 3 oz dry sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup almonds
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves (about 12)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/8 tsp crushed red pepper flakes


  1. Place sundried tomatoes in a microwave-safe bowl and drizzle with 1-2 teaspoons of water. Cover with plastic wrap that is slightly vented and microwave on high for 30-45 seconds or until tender.
  2. Remove tomatoes to a food processor or mini food prep fitted with a blade attachment. Add the almonds and garlic; pulse for 20-30 seconds until coarsely ground.
  3. Add the basil and salt. Stream in the olive oil, processing as you pour. Blend until few lumps remain or to desired consistency.
  4. Pulse in the Parmesan and crushed red pepper flakes.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1/4 cup
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 297Total Fat: 29.1gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 25gCholesterol: 1mgSodium: 325mgCarbohydrates: 7.5gFiber: 0.8gSugar: 3.1gProtein: 2.8g

Did you make this recipe?

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Love basil and all things pesto? So, so delicious!

Be well,

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