This sundried tomato pesto recipe is a great change of pace. It’s very versatile, and while it’s vegetarian by nature, it can also be made in a vegan version if you use a vegan Parmesan cheese. You can use it on bruschetta or crostini, toss it with hot pasta, stir it into rice, or add it to sandwiches. It lasts for at least a week (I’ve kept it for 2 weeks) in the fridge, so you can play with it for days to come.
Many pestos are made with just herbs — basil in particular — and are green in color, but this one has a brick-red color thanks to the sundried tomatoes and a tangy, intense flavor that goes a long way.
Best Sun-Dried Tomatoes for Pesto
Use sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, which are generally much more pliable than the ones that are just sold dried, loose, or in bags. If you can only get dried tomatoes, you can soften them by putting them in a bowl and pouring over very hot water. Let sit at room temperature for at least an hour, optimally two. Drain and use in the recipe. You may want to add another tablespoon or two of oil to the pesto to make up for the oil that would have been added with oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes.
The oil used to store the sun-dried tomatoes may not be of very high quality, which is why I like to drain the sun-dried tomatoes and then add my own fresh olive oil. But taste the oil in the jar — if it seems fresh and has good flavor, then you can use that, and just add olive oil to make up the ½ cup called for.
Sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil – See above for more notes on the best sun-dried tomatoes for this recipe.
Fresh basil leaves – Even though this isn’t a basil-based pesto, a little basil adds that wonderful summery flavor and little speckles of green.
Garlic – Adds some heat and is an integral part of most pestos.
Salt and pepper – Use the recommended amounts as guidelines, then taste and adjust as desired.
Red pepper flakes – For a bit more heat, you can add more if you like or skip them if you want a milder pesto.
Parmesan cheese – Don’t use the stuff in a can! Pre-shredded is fine, but the best flavor comes when you grate it yourself. And, if you want a vegan pesto, choose dairy-free Parmesan.
Extra-virgin olive oil – Use the best olive oil you have on hand since the pesto isn’t cooked, and the flavor of the oil will definitely come through.
Sundried Tomato Pesto: Ruddy red and full of flavor, this tangy pesto can be used to make pasta, crostini, as a condiment for sandwiches and so much more!Tweet This
Sun-Dried Tomato Pasta
To use the pesto in pasta, cook 1 pound of pasta according to the package directions. Remove 1 cup of the pasta cooking water just before draining the pasta. Start by tossing the drained pasta with half the sun-dried tomato pesto and ½ cup of the reserved pasta water. Add more pesto and cooking water as needed to make the pasta nice and saucy. Sprinkle with more Parmesan to serve if desired.
You can add some of the following to the sundried pesto for different versions:
- Roasted red peppers
- Jarred pimentos
- Chopped Calabrian peppers
- Pine Nuts
Uses for Leftover Pesto
See all of these great uses for leftover pesto. Besides pasta, leftovers are great in:
- Sandwiches (grilled cheese is particularly good)
- Bruschetta and crostini
- Or blend it with sour cream to create a piquant dip for raw vegetables.
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Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto
- Place the sundried tomatoes, basil, and garlic in a food processor and pulse to combine. Add the salt and pepper and 1/3 cup olive oil and puree until it forms a paste.
- Add the Parmesan and the rest of the olive oil, then blend until smooth, adding additional oil if you feel the pesto is too thick. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Store for up to a week in the fridge.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.