Pesto Rosso (Red Pesto)
Pesto Rosso, or Red Pesto, is a bright, tangy, Italian pesto that makes a great addition to dips, spreads, sauces, and filling.
Pesto Rosso, also known as “red pesto,” is a tantalizing sauce that captures the essence of traditional Italian cuisine. With its vibrant red color and bold flavors, this sun-dried tomato pesto will surely become a favorite.
Made from a combination of sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, walnuts, Parmesan cheese, and olive oil, this sauce offers a symphony of flavors that complement a wide range of dishes.
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Ingredients You’ll Need
- Sun-dried tomatoes in oil – Sun-dried tomatoes are the star ingredient of Pesto Rosso, bringing an intense burst of tomato flavor to the table. These tomatoes undergo a drying process that removes their moisture while preserving their concentrated taste. The result is a sweet and slightly tangy flavor that adds depth to the sauce.
- Olive Oil – Olive oil serves as the base of Pesto Rosso, providing a smooth and silky texture while bringing all the ingredients together. It acts as a carrier for the flavors, ensuring they meld seamlessly.
- Parmesan Cheese – Parmesan cheese, known for its rich and savory characteristics, imparts a creamy and salty flavor to Pesto Rosso. This aged cheese adds depth to the sauce, complementing the other ingredients and creating a harmonious balance of flavors.
- Walnuts – Nuts are an essential ingredient in Pesto Rosso, contributing a rich and nutty taste. For this recipe, we chose to use walnuts but you can also use pine nuts, almonds, pecans, or cashews. Each nut will give the pesto a slightly different flavor.
- Garlic – No Italian sauce would be complete without garlic! In Pesto Rosso, garlic adds a pungent and slightly spicy note that enhances the overall flavor profile. It brings depth and complexity to the sauce, elevating it to new heights.
- Seasoning – You won’t need a lot of seasoning for this simple pesto because the fresh ingredients all how so much flavor on their own. We add a little Kosher salt and a small pinch of red pepper flakes to boost the flavor even more.
Step 1 – Roast nuts. Heat a small skillet over medium-high heat and add the walnuts. Shake them in the skillet continuously for 1-2 minutes as you toast them. Once they are lightly toasted remove from the heat and set aside.
Step 2 – Prepare sun-dried tomatoes. Use a fork to remove the sun-dried tomatoes from the oil and place them in the bowl of your food processor.
Pour the oil in a measuring cup and add additional olive oil to it (if needed) to make it ¾ cup of oil. Set aside.
Step 3 – Add all other ingredients. Add the Parmesan cheese, toasted walnuts, garlic, salt and red pepper flakes to the food processor.
Step 4 – Blend. Lock the lid in place and turn on the food processor. As the motor is running begin slowly pouring the oil in. You can pause the food processor during this process and scrape the sides down before resuming until you reach a rough texture, not smooth but without large chunks of tomato.
Step 5 – Serve. Add the pesto to a dish, eat with bread or crackers, or store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
Uses for Pesto Rosso
Just like green pesto red pesto can be a fantastic addition to various dishes adding a delicious burst of flavor that elevates any recipe.
1. Pasta Sauces: Red pesto can be used as a flavorful alternative to green pesto or meatballs, or spaghetti sauce in pasta dishes. It pairs well with various pasta shapes, such as penne, fusilli, or spaghetti. The tangy and sweet notes of red pesto create a distinct flavor profile, adding depth and richness to your pasta. Whether you toss it with cooked pasta or use it as a base for a creamy sauce, red pesto brings a vibrant and appetizing twist to your pasta creations.
2. Sandwiches and Wraps: It can be a delicious spread for sandwiches and wraps. Its robust and tangy flavors complement a wide range of fillings. Try slathering red pesto on bread or wraps before adding ingredients like grilled vegetables, roasted chicken, or cheese. Combining flavors and textures will create a mouthwatering and satisfying sandwich or wrap experience.
3. Pizza Toppings: Red pesto can be a flavorful alternative to traditional tomato sauce on pizzas. Spread it on pizza dough as a base before adding your favorite toppings. Red pesto’s sweet and tangy flavors work well with various pizza ingredients, such as mozzarella cheese, grilled vegetables, or cured meats. It adds a vibrant and distinct taste to your homemade or store-bought pizzas.
4. Dips and Spreads: It can be served as a dip or spread alongside bread, crackers, or vegetable sticks. Its robust flavors make it an excellent appetizer or party platter. Simply place the pesto in a bowl and serve it alongside your favorite dippable items or layer it with cheese and green pesto to make our delicious Pesto Cream Cheese Spread!
5. Marinades and Grilling: Red pesto can be used for meats, seafood, or vegetables before grilling. Its intense flavors will infuse into the ingredients, adding depth and complexity to your grilled dishes. Brush the pesto onto chicken, fish, or vegetables before placing them on the grill. The result will be a delectable combination of flavors that will impress your taste buds.
Frequently Asked Questions
Pesto Rosso carries a distinct umami flavor, thanks to the sun-dried tomatoes and Parmesan cheese. Umami is often described as a savory and meaty taste sensation that adds depth and complexity to dishes.
It also has a natural sweetness, providing a slightly fruity and caramelized taste. This sweetness is complemented by a tangy undertone, which adds a delightful contrast to the overall flavor.
The main difference lies in the key ingredients used to prepare each pesto:
Basil Pesto: Basil pesto, also known as Pesto alla Genovese, features fresh basil leaves as its star ingredient. It is combined with pine nuts, garlic, Parmesan cheese, and extra virgin olive oil. The result is a vibrant green sauce with a fresh and herbaceous flavor.
Red Pesto: Red pesto, or Pesto Rosso, incorporates sun-dried tomatoes as its primary component. It combines sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, nuts, Parmesan cheese, and olive oil. This variation produces a rich red sauce with a sweet yet tangy taste.
How to Store It
To ensure the freshness and longevity of your pesto, it’s important to store it correctly in the refrigerator and freezer.
- Transfer to an Airtight Container: Place the pesto in an airtight container. This helps prevent air exposure, which can lead to oxidation and flavor deterioration.
- Store in the Refrigerator: Place the sealed container in the refrigerator.
Red pesto can typically be stored in the refrigerator for up to 1 to 2 weeks, depending on the specific product and the freshness of its ingredients. Consuming it as soon as possible is advisable for the best flavor.
- Transfer to a Suitable Freezer Container: For long-term storage, consider using freezer-safe containers or resealable freezer bags. These containers are designed to withstand freezing temperatures and prevent freezer burn.
- Portioning: If you have a large batch of pesto, divide it into smaller portions before freezing. This allows you to thaw only the needed amount without repeatedly exposing the entire batch to temperature changes.
- Freezing Method: Lay the containers or bags flat in the freezer to allow for easier stacking and efficient use of freezer space. Once it is frozen, you can rearrange them as desired.
Sun-dried tomato pesto can be stored in the freezer for approximately 3 to 6 months while maintaining quality. However, for the best flavor, consuming it within the first 2 to 3 months of freezing is recommended.
Thawing Pesto Rosso:
To thaw red pesto, transfer the desired portion from the freezer to the refrigerator and let it thaw slowly overnight.
Once thawed, give it a gentle stir to recombine any separated ingredients.
Avoid thawing and refreezing the pesto multiple times, as this can affect its quality and texture.
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Pesto Rosso (Red Pesto)
- Heat a small skillet over medium-high heat and add the walnuts. Shake them in the skillet continuously for 1-2 minutes as you toast them. Once they are lightly toasted remove from the heat and set aside.
- Use a fork to remove the sun-dried tomatoes from the oil and place them in the bowl of your food processor.
- Pour the oil in a measuring cup and add additional olive oil to it (if needed) to make it ¾ cup of oil. Set aside.
- Add the Parmesan cheese, toasted walnuts, garlic, salt and red pepper flakes to the food processor.
- Lock the lid in place and turn on the food processor. As the motor is running begin slowly pouring the oil in. You can pause the food processor during this process and scrape the sides down before resuming until you reach a rough texture, not smooth but without large chunks of tomato.
- Add the pesto to a dish, eat with bread or crackers, or store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.