Red pesto in a bowl with a spoon

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This red pesto is so unbelievably delicious. Earthy and tangy, with a hint of sweetness from fresh basil. Stir it into pasta, smother it on some baked chicken (or spoon it straight from tub to mouth whilst no one is watching). And the best news? It takes mere minutes to make.

What’s the Difference Between Red Pesto and Green Pesto?

Green pesto, or pesto Alla Genovese as it is officially called in Italy, is the traditional sauce we all know and love. It is made from pine nuts, garlic, parmesan and basil, giving it that vibrant green hue.

Red pesto (or Pesto Rosso as it is called in Italy) is made with the addition of tomatoes. It also commonly uses almonds or even cashew nuts instead of pine nuts. This recipe does use pine nuts, but you could swap it out for almonds or cashews if you prefer.

What can I serve it with?

Of course the most common pairing for pesto is a steaming bowl of pasta – and this red pesto goes with pasta extremely well!

You can also serve this smeared over some chicken breasts and baked in the oven until cooked through. You can even toss it through some veg before roasting. It’s a great way to jazz up a plain dinner.

If you want some great sides that will complement the flavours without overpowering the delicious flavour then try:

Chicken with red pesto sauce on a baking tray

Is it Healthy?

Pesto is fairly healthy in general. The ingredients are natural and, aside from the parmesan cheese, low in saturated fats. However, a few of the ingredients are fairly calorie-dense including pine nuts, olive oil and parmesan. All in all, ‘healthy’ is a subjective term. We wouldn’t recommend eating it by the spoonful if you are trying to control calories, for example.

The good news is that you only need a small serving to add a huge amount of flavour. Plus when you are making pesto at home you can control the amount of salt you add, as many ready-made sauces are heavy on the amount of salt.

How Long Does it Keep?

As it has no significant fat content Bavette steak should be cooked quickly or else it will toughen up.

Pesto can also be frozen for up to 3 months with a little care. Sometimes after a stint in the freezer pesto can turn a less than appetising brown colour unless you follow a little trick. Simply pour a layer of oil over the pesto before freezing it (and let it sit on top of the pesto). This will help to stop the air from getting to the sauce which will prevent this. You can also use ice cube trays to freeze individual portions.

Ingredients & Substitutions

The key ingredients for this recipe are: (for a full list of ingredients with measurements jump to the printable recipe card)

Red pesto ingredients
  • Basil – for this recipe fresh is truly best and you won’t get anywhere near the same results using dried
  • Pine nuts – you can substitute these for almonds or cashew nuts
  • Garlic – can be left out in a pinch or if you don’t like garlic, but it adds a lot to the flavour
  • Sun-dried tomatoes – these truly are a non-negotiable staple in red pesto. You also need to use dried tomatoes because otherwise, you will end up with a watery mess on your hands. Use the kind you find in jars in oil rather than the dehydrated ones which will be too dry.
  • Parmesan – this can easily be substituted for another hard Italian cheese such as Pecorino.
  • Pine nuts – can be substituted with almonds or cashews also. Although

How to Make It

Making this red pesto couldn’t be easier. Simply prepare all your ingredients and pop them into a food processor.

Blend until you have a rough, evenly combined paste and then serve or spoon into jars.

Looking for more great sauce recipes? Try:

Products that work well for this recipe:

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Red pesto in a bowl with a spoon

Red Pesto

  • Author: caroline
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 8 1x


Earthy, slightly tangy, and slightly sweet, this red pesto is absolutely delicious. Smear it over chicken, spoon it onto toasted bread or use it as a dip. Plus it takes only minutes to make. 

The default recipe serves 8 (8 tbsps)


  • 100g / 3.5oz sundried tomatoes
  • 10 large fresh basil leaves
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 30g / 1oz pine nuts, toasted
  • 30g / 1oz parmesan
  • 4 tbsp / 1/4 cup olive oil


  1. Prepare all the ingredients and add them to a food processor (see note 2). 
  2. Blitz the ingredients until just combined into an even and rough paste. 
  3. Serve or spoon into jars. See note 6 for storage instructions. 


  1. Toasting the pine nuts helps to significantly improve their flavour. To toast simply heat a small frying pan or skillet (no oil required) and toast, tossing often, for a few minutes until they are lightly browned. 
  2. No food processor? No problem. You can also finely chop all the ingredients and combine. This is how pesto was traditionally made and you may actually prefer the result. But you’ll need to add a good 15-20 minutes of prep time. 
  3. For best results use sun-dried tomatoes which have been kept in jars in oil.
  4. Pine nuts can be substituted for cashews or almonds. 
  5. Fresh basil is a must for this recipe! So don’t be tempted to switch for dried. 
  6. The pesto can be kept in the fridge for 4-5 days or frozen for up to 3 months. Pour oil over the pesto before refrigerating or freezing to prevent air from getting to the sauce and causing browning. 
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Category: Sauce
  • Method: No Cook
  • Cuisine: Italian


  • Serving Size: 1
  • Calories: 110
  • Fat: 9.5g
  • Carbohydrates: 1g
  • Protein: 2g

Keywords: pesto, sauce, dip, italian, vegetarian, easy

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