This is a dairy-free & vegan version of Pesto Rosso, the classic Italian sun-dried tomato pesto. You can make it in just a few minutes! It is packed with umami flavors. You’ll find tons of ways to use this delicious red pesto.

I love myself some pesto. I make this homemade vegan basil pesto all the time, and I also love making pesto out of all sorts of random kitchen ingredients to help reduce waste, like this fennel frond pesto and this carrot top pesto. Once the pesto is made…I really love tossing it with pasta, like this arugula & broccoli pesto pasta, and this cauliflower gnocchi with pesto & broccoli.

In Italian, pesto means “to pound”, so besides the more familiar green pesto, so many other things can be “pounded” into pesto. Such as…sun-dried tomatoes! They’re the star of this pesto rosso — a red, tomato version of pesto, a beautiful counterpart to our classic green pesto Genovese.

What is pesto rosso?

Pesto Rosso, or red pesto in Italian, is a pesto that is tomato-based instead of the more classic green basil pesto Genovese. There are fresh versions of pesto rosso that use fresh tomatoes, but for this version, we’re using umami-packed sun-dried tomatoes.

Pesto Rosso is super flavorful and you can use it in so many ways that are similar to it’s green counterpart!

Ingredients for sun-dried tomato pesto

  • Sun-dried Tomatoes: you can use oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes or dry-packed sun-dried tomatoes. You’ll need to add a bit of extra oil to the recipe if you choose to use the dry tomatoes.
  • Almonds or Cashews: you could also use a seed, like sunflower seeds, to make this recipe nut-free.
  • Fresh or Dried Basil: I like using fresh basil when I have it on hand, but dried works well in a pinch.
  • Garlic: it simply isn’t pesto without loads of garlic! I use three big cloves – add more or less to your tastes.
  • Nutritional Yeast: my vegan alternative to the traditional parmesan cheese! You can skip this if you don’t love nutritional yeast.
  • Balsamic Vinegar: to add acidity to the pesto.
  • Red Pepper Flakes & Salt: add both of these to taste! My sun-dried tomatoes had some salt added already, so make sure to start conservatively and adjust later.
  • Olive Oil: the amount you’ll need depends on whether the tomatoes are packed in oil or not! I love using the oil from the sun-dried tomatoes if you have it as part of the pesto oil.

Is pesto rosso vegan?

Traditionally, pesto rosso is made with Parmesan cheese, which would make it not vegan or dairy-free. To make this recipe vegan-friendly and dairy-free, I replaced the Parmesan with nutritional yeast.

My favorite ways to use red pesto:

  • Pasta Sauce – toss it with pasta (and a little pasta water) to create a delicious vegan pasta sauce
  • Bruschetta – spread it onto toasted bread, top with fresh tomatoes for a bold tomato flavor
  • Sandwich Spread – spread it on to wraps & the bread of sandwiches
  • Salad Dressing – Thin it out with more vinegar & oil
  • Dip – you can use it as a dip on it’s own, or mix it with some vegan ricotta
  • Pizza – use it on the crust instead of sauce

To make pesto rosso pasta: add a generous heap of pesto rosso to cooked pasta with a splash of pasta water. Toss to combine, and add more red pesto or pasta water as you need to bring it together and nicely coat the pasta. I love serving this with sautéed greens!

For added protein, a can of white beans mixed in is absolutely delicious, or add your favorite sausage or chicken.

Serve it with…

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Pesto Rosso (Sun-dried Tomato Pesto)

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  • Author: Rachel Conners
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 1½ cups 1x
  • Category: Sauce
  • Method: Food Processor
  • Cuisine: Italian
  • Diet: Vegan


This is a dairy-free & vegan version of Pesto Rosso, the classic Italian sun-dried tomato pesto. It is easy to make in just a few minutes and is packed with umami flavors. You’ll find tons of ways to use this delicious pesto.


  • 1 cup sun-dried tomatoes
  • ⅓ cup raw almonds or cashews
  • ¼ cup fresh basil, optional, can also add ½ teaspoon dried basil or skip
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast, optional, can use parmesan cheese if preferred
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon red pepper flakes, plus more to taste
  • ¾ cup olive oiladd up to an extra ¼ cup if using dry sun-dried tomatoes or if you like a thinner pesto


  1. In a food processor, combine all of the ingredients except for the oil.
  2. Add in half of the oil, pulse to break up the ingredients, and then drizzle in the rest of the oil as the machine runs until you get to your desired texture. Scrape down the sides of the food processor container as needed.
  3. Taste and add more acid/salt/heat as desired.
  4. Use immediately or transfer to a jar and store in the refrigerator for up to a week. If you’re using it in a recipe, allowing it to come to room temperature before using can help it incorporate more easily.

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