This homemade sun dried tomato pesto sauce is exploding with flavors and very easy to make. Spread it over crostini, stirred with pasta or soup, topped over eggs. ALL DELICIOUS!
You can use sun dried tomatoes as it is dried, or can use the ones soaked in oil. Using sun dried tomatoes soaked in oil gives you richer, deep flavoured pesto sauce. The red hue of the pesto completely depends on the type of sun dried tomatoes you use.
As you can see the pesto sauce of this recipe is dark red color. It’s because of two factors –
- I used the dried version of sun dried tomatoes
- The tomatoes I used were darker in color.
Deep red hue colored pesto sauce can be got by using red colored sun dried tomatoes.
There are literally million ways to make pesto sauce at home. Classic pesto sauce has fresh basil and pine nuts in it. There are many other combinations to make pesto sauce. There is a simple rule to make any variation of pesto sauce. It goes like this :
Any pesto should have –
- Fresh basil (or) any other leafy greens that is easy to blitz
- Pine nuts (or) any other nuts like almonds, cashews or walnuts
- Parmesan cheese – always use freshly grated
- Extra virgin olive oil – has to be good quality oil
- Salt n Pepper
To make variations, add the extra ingredient but follow the basil pesto formula mentioned above. To make sun dried tomato pesto sauce, add sun dried tomatoes along with rest of the ingredients.
The vibrant flavor of sun dried tomatoes along with extra virgin olive oil and Parmesan cheese makes this pesto sauce bursting with flavors. Vibrantly colored unique sun dried tomato pesto sauce is also called as Pesto Rosso.
Pesto Rosso or red pesto is a variation of pesto that uses sun dried tomatoes along with nuts (almond), Parmesan cheese (freshly grated), extra virgin olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper. To add another dimension of flavor to pesto rosso I added red chili flakes.
Not all pesto rosso uses sun dried tomatoes in the recipe. In regions of Sicily fresh ripe cherry tomatoes are used to make pesto rosso or red pesto. This recipe uses only sun dried tomato. If you feel a little experimental use a mix of both sun dried tomatoes and fresh ripe cherry tomatoes.
What You’ll Need To Make Sun Dried Tomato Pesto
Sun dried tomatoes: (best use the ones soaked in oil)
Roasted almonds: roasted almonds blitz well. You can use pine nuts or walnuts.
Fresh basil: fresh basil not dried basil.
Parmesan cheese: for best results buy Parmesan cheese block and grate it at home just before using it in recipe.
Extra virgin olive oil: use the best quality extra virgin olive oil. Your pesto sauce will taste as good as the ingredients you use.
Garlic cloves: Pesto without garlic is a sin. Don’t skip it! haha
Salt n Pepper: seasoning is crucial. Add salt and pepper as per taste.
Red chili flakes: optional, but highly recommended! Chili flakes adds an extra flavor dimension to pesto sauce.
What Sun-Dried Tomatoes Should I Buy?
Purchase the best sun dried tomatoes in a jars soaked in oil. Or you can use sun dried tomatoes in packets. If you buy the ones in packets, you can soak the sun dried tomatoes in oil for few hours before you use it in the recipe.
The reason you should pick dried tomatoes in jar is it helps blend the pesto sauce easily into smooth texture. Don’t fret if you can’t find sun dried tomatoes in jars packed in oil.
In my part of the world dried tomatoes packed in oil aren’t easily available. You can very well use sun dried tomatoes in packets and blend it in food processor. It works; you’ll need to add olive oil (maybe few extra tablespoons needed) to help blend the pesto smoothly.
How To Make Sun Dried Tomato Pesto
One of the easiest sauces to make is pesto sauce. This sun dried tomato pesto sauce needs very few ingredients and comes together in less than 10 minutes. All you need a good food processor to make pesto to the right consistency, the way you prefer it. You can keep it chunky in texture or you can make smooth pesto.
In a food processor combine sun dried tomatoes, fresh basil, roasted almonds (raw almonds not salted ones), freshly grated Parmesan cheese, garlic cloves, salt and pepper to taste and red chili flakes.
Close the lid and run the processor. With the processor running slowly pour extra virgin olive oil into the processor until emulsified.
Grind it to your desired consistency. You can leave it little chunky (which is great for spreading over sandwiches or stirring it into pastas and soups) or make it smoother.
Store in air tight container in the refrigerator.
What To Do With Sun Dried Tomato Pesto
Pastas: Use it to make sun dried tomato pesto pasta. This sun dried tomato pesto sauce is full of vibrant flavors. This goes very well when stirred with cooked pasta. No need to add anything more. Proteins can be added if you wish – chicken, shrimps.
Soups: Stir this pesto sauce with any soups that has tomato base. This pesto sauce when added to minestrone soups tastes so much better. Can be used with other soups too.
Bread: Spread pesto sauce over sandwich bread or bruschetta.
Dips: Pesto sauce goes great as dips for pita bread or chips.
As Stuffing: This pesto sauce can be used as stuffing for chicken breasts along with fresh basil. Tastes so good!
Pizza Sauce: Feel a bit experimental? Spread it over your pizza instead of your regular pizza sauce!
How To Store And Freeze Sun Dried Tomato Pesto
Store this pesto sauce in air tight container in refrigerator. It keeps good for about a week in the refrigerator.
To store longer you can freeze the pesto sauce. Use freezer friendly air tight boxes to freeze pesto for 3 to 4 months.
Alternatively use ice cube trays to freeze smaller portions of pesto sauce. Fill up your ice cube trays with pesto sauce, freeze it for couple of hours. Remove it from ice trays and pack in freezer zip lock bags and place it back into freezer.
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Sun Dried Tomato Pesto Sauce
- food processor
- 1 ½ cup sun-dried tomatoes
- ½ cup roasted raw almonds
- ¼ cup Parmesan cheese freshly grated
- 3 cloves garlic
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- ¼ teaspoon red chili flakes optional
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil good quality EVOO
- In a food processor combine sun dried tomatoes, fresh basil, roasted almonds (raw almonds not salted ones), freshly grated Parmesan cheese, garlic cloves, salt and pepper to taste and red chili flakes.
- Close the lid and run the processor. With the processor running slowly pour extra virgin olive oil into the processor until emulsified.
- Grind it to your desired consistency. You can leave it little chunky (which is great for spreading over sandwiches or stirring it into pastas and soups) or make it smoother.
- Store in air tight container in the refrigerator.