This Sun Dried Tomato Pesto is a sweet, tangy, fresh twist on a classic Italian sauce. Perfect for pasta, pizza, or dipping!
I’m a huge fan of pesto. It’s light, fresh, and versatile in both in how you make it and how you use it. You can make a variety of different flavors of pesto using various herbs, nuts, seasonings, and cheese and you can use pesto in pastas, pizzas, appetizers, and more!
I’ve already made so many kinds of pesto (see all my pesto recipes here), but today’s sun dried tomato is extra special thanks to tomatoes and balsamic vinegar! It’s sweet, tangy, and obviously, delicious!
What is pesto?
Pesto is a classic Italian sauce traditionally made up of fresh basil, toasted pine nuts, parmesan cheese, garlic, olive oil, and salt.
Pesto sauce can be used a variety of different ways: as a dipping sauce for crackers, chips, or bread, on pizza, pasta, or burgers, in soups and sandwiches, you name it!
Today we’re making a variation of that classic pesto recipe: sun dried tomato pesto, also known as “pesto rosso”.
This sun dried tomato pesto is made up of the freshest ingredients that are readily available at any grocery store.
- Pine Nuts – lightly toasted to really enhance their earthy, nutty flavor.
- Basil – adds that classic pesto flavor with touches of sweet, savory, earthy, slightly minty undertones.
- Garlic – brings out the flavor of the pine nuts with it subtle nuttiness.
- Balsamic Vinegar – with a lot of savory flavors in this sun dried tomato pesto, the balsamic vinegar gives a fresh, sweet, and tart flavor that really brings out the flavor of the tomatoes.
- Parmesan Cheese – parmesan is perfect in pesto because of its salty, sharp, slightly nutty flavor.
- Sun Dried Tomatoes – jarred sun-dried tomatoes packed in olive oil. Don’t drain them. The olive oil goes into the pesto too!
- Salt – brings out all the other flavors in the sauce.
How to make
I love how easy this delicious sauce is to make. Just 15 minutes and it’s ready to go!
- Place pine nuts onto an unlined baking sheet and bake until the nuts are golden-brown (about 2-5 minutes.)
- Place the toasted pine nuts in your food processor along with basil, garlic, vinegar, cheese, tomatoes (in oil), and salt.
- Process until well combined then taste and re-season if necessary before serving!
What sun dried tomatoes to use
Any jarred sun dried tomatoes packed in olive oil will work. Pesto usually calls for olive oil anyway, so you will simply incorporate all the contents of the jar into the sauce! Two in one!
Does sun dried tomato pesto contain nuts?
Yes! This sun dried tomato pesto recipe is made using pine nuts which add flavor and texture to the sauce. You can swap the pine nuts for another type of nut such as toasted almonds, walnuts, pecans, or pistachios.
This sun dried tomato pesto is perfectly sweet, nutty, and savory as is but if you want to change it up, here are some variations!
- Add a different green. Add parsley, cilantro, spinach, arugula, or kale.
- Add other flavors. Blend in some kalamata olives or artichoke hearts for a Mediterranean twist.
- Try a different nut. Toasted walnuts, almonds, pecans, or pistachios will also work.
- Make it vegan. Swap out the parmesan for nutritional yeast.
If sun dried tomato pesto isn’t your thing, try my classic basil pesto, avocado pesto, cilantro pesto, or roasted pistachio pesto.
What to do with sun dried tomato pesto
I love pesto on pasta but this sun dried tomato pesto is also super versatile! Try it out a few different ways!
- On pizza. Try it out on pizza in place of red sauce.
- Over pasta. Toss it with your favorite pasta and top with crumbled feta cheese and additional toasted pine nuts (pictured).
- As an appetizer. Spread it on toasted baguette or on garlic bread.
- Over chicken. Try it as a topping for my air fryer chicken thighs.
- As a dip. Use it as a dip for pita chips or crackers or mix it with some hummus for a flavor twist.
How to store
Leftover pesto will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for 1 week or in the freezer for 3-4 months.
To use again, thaw in the fridge if frozen then warm on the stovetop or in the microwave if desired or enjoy straight from the fridge.
Sun Dried Tomato Pesto
Equipment for this recipe
- 1/4 cup pine nuts
- 2 cups packed basil
- 4 cloves garlic
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
- 1 (7 oz) jar sun-dried tomatoes packed in olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon salt plus more to taste (I used 1 teaspoon)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Place pine nuts onto an unlined baking sheet.
- Bake in preheated oven for 2-5 minutes, stirring every minute or so to prevent burning, or until nuts are golden brown.
- Place toasted pine nuts into a food processor along with basil, garlic, vinegar, cheese, tomatoes (and their oil), and salt.
- Process until well combined.
- Taste and re-season, if necessary.
- Serve with pasta, a baguette, etc. and enjoy!
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*Note: Nutrition information is estimated and varies based on products used.