Servings: 6 portions
  • 16 oz sun-dried tomatoes in oil
  • 1 cup pine nuts
  • 2.5 oz fresh basil leaves
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 5.29 oz Violife Parmesan, grated (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes or to taste
  • salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 17.6 oz casarecce pasta (or any other short past
Red Pesto (Pesto Rosso) is a delightful variation of the most traditional Genovese pesto we all know well in America. The beautiful red color comes from the sun-dried tomatoes. It is also known as Pesto Alla Siciliana. 
One of the secrets to a good Pesto sauce is to toast your pine nuts before using them slightly. You do not want them golden; you need to toast them enough to make them taste sweeter and bring out their intense nutty flavor. 
If you do not have vegan parmesan at hand, omit it, and you will still make a delicious red pesto. I guarantee you will not miss the parmesan because the dry tomatoes are the star of this show! 
Use the oil from the sun-dried tomatoes and add more olive oil to make it for the 1/3 cup you need to prep the recipe. Bagged sun-dried tomatoes work well too, but I suggest soaking them in olive oil overnight to soften them up.
I usually make a large batch, separate portions in air-tight containers, and freeze. When you need it, just let it out for a couple of hours and use it. You can make it ahead, cover it with plastic wrap and keep it in the fridge for a couple of days until you prepare your pasta. A fun variation is to use almonds instead of pine nuts; make sure to toast them slightly.
  • Preheat the oven to 380F (193C). Spread pine nuts on a baking sheet or roasting tray and take them to the oven for 4 minutes, stirring every minute to avoid burning. As soon as they are fragrant, they are ready to be used.
  • In a small saucepan over low heat, sauté garlic until fragrant, about one minute, stirring frequently. 
  • Add sun-dried tomato to your food processor and pulse until smooth. Add pine nuts, basil leaves, garlic, olive oil, Violife parmesan, red pepper flakes, salt, and black pepper, turn the food processor on low, and let it run until you get all ingredients incorporated in a thick emulsified mixture. Taste for seasoning and adjust to your liking. If you use vegan parmesan, be careful adding salt; remember, vegan parmesan adds salt to the recipe.
  • Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling water, according to package instructions, until “al dente” (tender but still firm to the bite. Drain and reserve one cup of the cooking water.
  • In a large saucepan over medium heat, sauté pesto with one cup of the cooking water until smooth and creamy for a couple of minutes. Add drained pasta and toss until the pesto coats pasta.