Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto Recipe (A Chef’s Secret Guide Revealed)

Sun-dried tomato pesto is perfect for enhancing any dish. Made without nuts, it offers a rich, tangy flavor that stands out. Research shows that it’s one of the best things you can add to elevate your meal. All you need is a spoonful to transform a simple pasta or sandwich. On the other hand, try adding it to salads or grilled vegetables, and you’ll get a burst of Mediterranean delight. While versatile, a universal rule is to use it sparingly for the best results. I advise giving it a try to experience its unmatched taste.

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Sun-dried tomato pesto has become a staple in many homes, offering an authentic taste reminiscent of European and Middle Eastern travels. 

Sun Dried Tomato Pesto Recipe

I recall visiting a quaint restaurant nestled in the heart of Italy, where the chef generously shared his secret: a vibrant sun-dried tomato pesto void of any nuts. 

Many face the challenge of recreating that authentic flavor at home, often hindered by unnecessary additives or missing the essence. You’re not alone if you’ve been searching for that perfect recipe. 

All you need is the proper guidance. During a friend’s visit from Greece, she raved about the similarity of this pesto to what she’d tasted in her homeland.

Inspired by these experiences, I crafted a foolproof recipe that captures the essence of my travels. 

By following this, you’ll get an authentic taste that caters to those looking for a nut-free option. Perfect for every meal, it’s bound to be a family favorite.

What Is Sun Dried Tomato Pesto? 

Sun-dried tomato pesto is a flavorful sauce originating from traditional Italian cuisine. Made primarily from sun-dried tomatoes, it’s perfect for imparting a rich, tangy taste to various dishes. 

Unlike the common basil-based pesto, this variant centers around the intense and slightly sweet flavor of tomatoes dried under the sun.

Olive oil, garlic, and herbs, such as basil or parsley, are often added to enhance its profile. 

You must note that while many pestos include nuts for texture and depth, this particular recipe omits them, making it suitable for those with allergies or specific dietary preferences.

History Of Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto Recipe

Sun-dried tomato pesto has its roots in Italian cuisine. While pesto, traditionally made from basil, pine nuts, and Parmesan cheese, hails from the Liguria region of Italy, sun-dried tomato variations emerged as an innovative twist. 

The exact originator remains unclear, but the inclusion of sun-dried tomatoes is believed to be inspired by the Mediterranean’s age-old practice of drying tomatoes under the sun to preserve their flavor. 

A unique variation was born by integrating these intensely flavored tomatoes into the pesto mix. While nuts are a staple in many pesto recipes, chefs and households opted for a no-nut version to cater to dietary needs and preferences.

Interesting Facts About Sun Dried Tomato Pesto Recipe

Sun-dried Tomato Pesto offers a delightful twist on the traditional basil pesto, incorporating the rich, concentrated flavor of sun-dried tomatoes. Here are some interesting facts:

Name Origins

“Linguine” means “little tongues” in Italian, a reference to its flat, narrow shape.

Unique method

Sun-dried tomato pesto owes its intense flavor to the tomato drying process, which concentrates its natural sugars and flavors.

Age-old tradition

In Mediterranean regions, sun-drying tomatoes is an age-old practice, often seen as preserving the summer’s bounty for winter months.

No-nut variation

The no-nut variation of this pesto is not only perfect for those with nut allergies but also offers a unique texture and flavor profile different from traditional recipes.

Antioxidant rich

Research shows that sun-dried tomatoes are rich in lycopene, a powerful antioxidant beneficial for heart health.

Popularity

Despite its Italian roots, this pesto variant is popular worldwide and is often used as a spread, dip, or sauce base.

Refined flavors

Some chefs believe the best sun-dried tomato pesto comes from tomatoes dried naturally, without artificial means.

Adaptability

Though it’s perfect for pasta, this versatile pesto enhances dishes like risottos, bruschettas, and pizzas.

Sun Dried Tomato Pesto Recipe

What Are The Regional Adaptations Of This Sauce? 

While rooted in Italian tradition, sun-dried tomato pesto has seen regional adaptations as it traveled the globe.

In the Middle East, it’s common to find versions infused with local spices and tahini, offering a nutty flavor without actual nuts. 

Spanish variations might incorporate smoked paprika, giving the sauce a smoky undertone. It’s often blended with feta cheese in Greece, adding a creamy texture and tangy kick.

French adaptations might include herbs like thyme or lavender for an aromatic twist. 

Meanwhile, in parts of North America, chipotle or roasted red pepper is sometimes added for a spicy kick. Each adaptation speaks to local tastes while preserving the essence of the original sauce.

What Will Make You Love This Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto Recipe?

Sun-dried tomato pesto boasts a unique appeal that’s hard to resist:

  • Its robust and tangy flavor is unparalleled, derived from tomatoes concentrated under the sun. 
  • This intensity is perfect for those who crave depth in their sauces.
  • The absence of nuts ensures a smoother texture, ideal for those with allergies or dietary restrictions but also appreciated by many who prefer a less crunchy pesto.
  • Its versatility is noteworthy; you can use it on pasta, as a sandwich spread, or even in salads. 
  • Research shows that sun-dried tomatoes are nutritionally rich, so you’re not just indulging your palate but also nourishing your body.
  • Its Mediterranean roots transport you to sun-kissed coasts with every bite.
Sun Dried Tomato Pesto Recipe

Ingredients List

IngredientQuantity
Sun-Dried Tomatoes1 cup
Fresh Basil1/2 cup
Shredded Parmesan Cheese2 tablespoons
Minced Garlic1 tablespoon
Salt1 teaspoon
Olive Oil3/4 cup

Ingredient Tips

  • Sun-dried tomatoes: Opt for tomatoes packed in olive oil for added flavor and softness. Drain before use.
  • Fresh basil: Store basil in a glass of water at room temperature, not in the fridge, to retain freshness.
  • Parmesan cheese: For the best flavor, buy a block and shred it yourself. Pre-shredded cheese can have anti-caking agents.
  • Minced garlic: Freshly mince your garlic rather than using jarred versions for a more vibrant taste.
  • Salt: Sea salt or Himalayan pink salt can add a more nuanced flavor than regular table salt.
  • Olive oil: Choose extra-virgin olive oil for its richer flavor and health benefits. Remember, its quality can significantly impact the overall taste.
  • Consistency: If you prefer a runnier pesto, add olive oil until you get your desired texture.
  • Storage: Keep your pesto in an airtight container with a thin layer of olive oil on top to maintain freshness.

What Are The Variations Of Sun Dried Tomato Pesto Recipe? 

  • Cheese Variations: Replace Parmesan with Pecorino Romano or feta for a different flavor profile.
  • Spicy Kick: Add red chili flakes or cayenne pepper for heat.
  • Herb Tweaks: Besides basil, try incorporating rosemary, oregano, or thyme for an aromatic twist.
  • Oil Alternatives: While olive oil is traditional, avocado or grapeseed oil can offer a different taste and consistency.
  • Citrus Zest: Adding lemon or orange zest can provide a delightful tang and freshness.
  • Vegan Version: Skip the cheese or use a vegan cheese substitute.
  • Roasted Garlic: Use roasted garlic instead of raw for a mellow and sweet undertone.
  • Tomato Mix: Blend sun-dried and fresh cherry tomatoes for a varied texture and flavor.
Sun Dried Tomato Pesto Recipe

Recipe Directions 

Cooking Method

  • Begin by placing the sun-dried tomatoes in a small pot and cover them with water.
  • Bring the water to a boil. Once boiling, remove the pot from the heat.
  • Allow the tomatoes to soften in the hot water for approximately 10 minutes.
  • After the rest time, drain the water from the tomatoes.
  • Add the drained tomatoes, salt, garlic, Parmesan cheese, and basil in a blender.
  • Start the blender and blend the mixture until all the ingredients are combined well.
  • While the blender is running, slowly pour the olive oil and add 1/4 cup. Continue blending until the mixture becomes smooth and well-emulsified.

Ferment Method

  • This recipe does not include a fermenting step. However, if you want a tangier flavor, you can ferment the mixture by placing it in a jar, ensuring it’s covered with a thin layer of olive oil, and letting it sit in a cool, dark place for a few days. Check regularly. Before using, refrigerate to halt the fermenting process.

DIndulge in the bold, concentrated flavors of sun-dried tomatoes blended to perfection in our irresistible Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto.

Scaling The Recipe

  • Doubling: For larger servings, simply double each ingredient. For instance, if the original recipe calls for 1 cup of sun-dried tomatoes, use 2 cups.
  • Halving: To serve fewer people, halve every ingredient. If the recipe requires 1 cup of tomatoes, use 1/2 cup.
  • Consistency: As you scale, keep in mind the texture. You might need to adjust the olive oil slightly to achieve the desired consistency.
  • Blending: Larger quantities may necessitate blending in batches.
  • Taste Test: Always taste and adjust seasonings as needed when scaling to ensure balanced flavors.
  • Storage: Larger batches might require bigger containers or multiple jars, while smaller quantities can fit in compact containers.
Sun Dried Tomato Pesto Recipe

Can This Sauce Be Used As A Marinade, Dipping Sauce, Or Dressing For Salads? 

  • Marinade: The rich flavors are perfect for marinating meats, poultry, or tofu. The olive oil base ensures the ingredients adhere well while the acidic tomatoes tenderize.
  • Dipping Sauce: Its thick consistency makes it an ideal dipping sauce for breadsticks, grilled vegetables, or meat skewers. For a creamier texture, you can mix it with a bit of yogurt or sour cream.
  • Dressing for Salads: Thin the pesto with extra olive oil or a splash of vinegar. It’s then ready to drizzle over fresh greens, pasta salads, or grain-based salads, offering a tangy and aromatic twist.

What Are The Best Dishes To Accompany Sun Dried Tomato Pesto Recipe?

Pasta

The classic choice. Whether spaghetti, penne, or fusilli, the pesto clings beautifully to the pasta, making every bite flavorful.

Grilled Chicken or Fish

The tangy and rich flavor of the pesto complements the smokiness of grilled proteins.

Bruschetta

Spread it on toasted bread top with fresh tomatoes and basil for a delightful appetizer.

Pizza

Use it as a base sauce for a Mediterranean-style pizza topped with olives, feta, and arugula.

Stuffed Vegetables

This pesto enhances the filling of stuffed peppers, mushrooms, or zucchini.

Risotto

Stir a spoonful into a creamy risotto to introduce a tangy twist.

Sandwiches or Wraps

It adds depth and moisture, perfect for vegetarian or meat-based sandwiches.

Sun Dried Tomato Pesto Recipe

What Are Some Classic Dishes That Feature Sun Dried Tomato Pesto Recipe?

  • Pesto Pasta: A simple yet delicious dish where the pesto is tossed with freshly cooked pasta and topped with shredded Parmesan.
  • Mediterranean Pizza: Using the pesto as the base sauce, topped with olives, capers, and feta cheese.
  • Pesto Panini: Grilled sandwiches layered with pesto, mozzarella, and fresh vegetables.
  • Bruschetta al Pesto: Toasted bread slices spread with the pesto, adorned with diced tomatoes and fresh basil.
  • Pesto Risotto: Creamy risotto gets uplifted with a dollop of this flavorful pesto.

What Are The Key Flavor Profiles And Taste Sensations That Sun Dried Tomato Pesto Recipe Offers?

  • Tangy: The primary taste comes from the sun-dried tomatoes, which have a concentrated and acidic profile.
  • Savory: The umami notes from Parmesan cheese and garlic lend a deep savoriness.
  • Herbaceous: Fresh basil introduces a refreshing and aromatic greenness.
  • Rich: Olive oil gives the pesto a smooth, rich mouthfeel and a fruity undertone.
  • Salty: The addition of salt, combined with the natural saltiness of Parmesan, heightens the overall flavor.
  • Slight Sweetness: Sun-dried tomatoes, having condensed sugars from the sun-drying process, impart a subtle sweetness.
Sun Dried Tomato Pesto Recipe

Can This Sauce Be Stored And Preserved For Future Use? What Is Its Shelf Life?

  • Refrigeration: After preparation, transfer the pesto to an airtight container. Add a thin layer of olive oil on top to prevent oxidation. Properly stored, it can last up to a week in the refrigerator.
  • Freezing: For longer storage, portion the pesto into ice cube trays and freeze. Once frozen, transfer the cubes to a freezer bag. This method allows for easy use in future recipes. The pesto can be frozen for up to 6 months.
  • Shelf Life: While refrigerated pesto lasts about a week, its flavor is best when consumed fresh. Always check for signs of spoilage, like mold or off-odors, before use.

What Are The Substitutes For Sun Dried Tomato Pesto Recipe?

  • Traditional Basil Pesto: Made with basil, garlic, Parmesan, and olive oil. You can omit nuts or replace them with seeds for a similar texture.
  • Roasted Red Pepper Pesto: Offers a sweet and smoky flavor. Blend roasted peppers with the usual pesto ingredients, excluding nuts.
  • Olive Tapenade: A paste made from olives, capers, and olive oil. It carries a salty and tangy profile suitable for many dishes.
  • Tomato Sauce: A simpler substitute that lacks the depth of pesto but can provide a tomato base.
  • Fresh Tomato Salsa: Gives a fresh, zesty alternative for dishes requiring a tangy kick.
  • Chimichurri: An aromatic herb sauce from South America, perfect for meats.
  • Ajvar: A Balkan red pepper and eggplant spread that offers a rich and smoky taste.
Sun Dried Tomato Pesto Recipe

How To Adjust The Consistency Of The Sauce?

Thicker Consistency

  • Use less olive oil during blending.
  • Add more sun-dried tomatoes or cheese.

Thinner Consistency

  • Gradually add more olive oil while blending.
  • A splash of water or tomato-soaking liquid can also be added to lighten the sauce without making it overly oily.

Creamier Texture

  • Introduce a soft cheese, like ricotta or cream cheese.
  • For a Grainy Texture
  • Blend for a shorter duration, keeping some ingredients slightly chunky.

Should We Serve The Sauce Cold Or Warm?

Cold

  • As a dipping sauce for bread or veggies.
  • In cold pasta salads or grain salads.
  • Spread on sandwiches or wraps.

Warm

  • Mixed with freshly cooked pasta. The heat from the pasta warms the pesto.
  • As a base for pizzas before baking.
  • Added to hot dishes like risottos, casseroles, or skillet meals.
Sun Dried Tomato Pesto Recipe

Nutritional Values

Sun-dried tomato Pesto is rich in antioxidants from tomatoes, provides healthy fats from olive oil, and contains calcium and protein from Parmesan cheese. Its ingredients also offer essential vitamins and minerals, such as Vitamin C, Vitamin E, and lycopene.

What Are The Total Calories In Sun Dried Tomato Pesto Recipe?

The total calories in Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto depend on the exact quantities and specific ingredients used. However, on average, a tablespoon of sun-dried tomato pesto can range between 70 to 100 calories, mainly from the olive oil and Parmesan cheese. 

Sun Dried Tomato Pesto Recipe

Elevate your meals with the rich, sun-kissed flavors of our Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto – a vibrant twist on a classic.

Dietary Restrictions Of The Sun Dried Tomato Pesto Recipe

  • Nut-Free: This specific recipe omits nuts, making it suitable for those with nut allergies.
  • Gluten-Free: Ingredients used are naturally free of gluten. However, always ensure cross-contamination has yet to occur during processing.
  • Vegetarian: The sauce is vegetarian-friendly, with cheese being the primary animal-derived ingredient.
  • Not Vegan: It contains Parmesan cheese, an animal product. A vegan version would omit or substitute the cheese.
  • Low Lactose: While Parmesan cheese does contain lactose, it’s often tolerated by people with mild lactose intolerance due to its low lactose content.
  • Not Keto: Sun-dried tomatoes contain sugars and carbs, which might not align with strict keto diets.
  • Not Paleo: The inclusion of dairy (Parmesan cheese) makes it non-compliant with strict paleo guidelines.

Nutrition Table 

Sun Dried Tomato Pesto Recipe

What Are The Common Mistakes While Making This Sauce?

  • Not Draining Tomatoes Properly: If using oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, you must drain them adequately to avoid an overly oily pesto.
  • Over-blending: Blending too much can make the pesto overly smooth. Some prefer a slightly textured consistency.
  • Using Poor Quality Olive Oil: The flavor of the olive oil plays a significant role. A low-quality oil can negatively impact the taste.
  • Skimping on Fresh Ingredients: Using stale garlic or wilted basil will diminish the pesto’s vibrancy.
  • Not Adjusting Seasonings: Taste as you blend and adjust the salt and garlic to suit your palate.
  • Too Much Oil: Adding too much oil initially can make the pesto too runny. It’s best to add gradually.
  • Storing Improperly: Not sealing the pesto in an airtight container or not adding a thin layer of olive oil on top can lead to quicker oxidation and spoilage.
  • Overheating: If you’re warming the pesto, gentle heat is key. High temperatures can degrade the flavors.

What Are Some Creative Uses Of Leftover Sauce? 

  • Stir into Soups: Add a dollop to tomato or vegetable soups for enhanced flavor.
  • Topping for Baked Potatoes: Drizzle on top or mix into the potato filling.
  • Grain Bowl Mix-in: Blend into quinoa, rice, or couscous bowls.
  • Breakfast Boost: Swirl into scrambled eggs or omelets.
  • Bread Spread: Smear on toast, bagels, or use in grilled cheese sandwiches.
  • Meat Glaze: Brush on chicken, beef, or fish before grilling.
  • Dress up Veggies: Mix with roasted or steamed vegetables for an extra layer of taste.
  • Dip Enhancement: Mix with hummus or yogurt for a richer dip.
Sun Dried Tomato Pesto Recipe

Special Tools & Equipment Needed

  • Food Processor or Blender: Essential for blending the ingredients into a smooth or textured paste, depending on preference.
  • Rubber Spatula: Helps in scraping down the sides of the processor to ensure even blending.
  • Sharp Knife: Useful for finely chopping or mincing the garlic and other ingredients if needed.
  • Measuring Cups and Spoons: Ensures the correct ingredients for balanced flavors.
  • Airtight Container: For storing the pesto, keeping it fresh, and preventing oxidation.
  • Boiling Pot: If you need to soften the sun-dried tomatoes by boiling.
  • Strainer: Handy for draining the sun-dried tomatoes after boiling.
  • Mixing Bowl: If you choose to mix or adjust ingredients by hand.

Frequently Asked Questions 

Can I Use Sun-Dried Tomatoes Packed In Oil Instead Of The Dry Variety?

Yes, you can use sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil. Ensure you drain them well before using them. The oil they’re packed in can also be substituted for some olive oil in the recipe for added flavor.

I Don’t Have Fresh Basil On Hand. Can I Use Another Herb?

Absolutely. While basil gives a classic taste, you can substitute it with other fresh herbs like parsley, oregano, or rosemary. Each herb will provide a unique flavor twist.

How Long Can I Store The Pesto In The Refrigerator?

When stored in an airtight container and covered with a thin layer of olive oil to prevent oxidation, the pesto can last up to a week in the refrigerator.

Is There A Way To Make The Recipe Vegan?

Yes, for a vegan version, you can omit the Parmesan cheese or replace it with nutritional yeast or a vegan cheese alternative to maintain a cheesy flavor profile.

Can I Use This Pesto As A Base For Pizza?

Definitely! Sun-dried tomato Pesto can be an excellent alternative to traditional pizza sauce. Spread a thin layer on your pizza dough, and top with your favorite ingredients. The pesto will add a rich, tangy flavor to your pizza.

Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto Recipe (A Chef’s Secret Guide Revealed)

5 from 2 votes
Recipe by Lana Rivera Course: sauces
Servings

4

servings
Prep time

5

minutes
Cooking time

15

minutes
Calories

70 – 100

kcal
Ferment/Rest Time

10

minutes

Sun-dried tomato Pesto is a rich, tangy sauce originating from Italian cuisine. This nut-free version offers a vibrant flavor profile and is made with sun-dried tomatoes, fresh basil, garlic, Parmesan, and olive oil. It’s perfect for elevating pasta sandwiches or as a delightful dip, combining Mediterranean flair with dietary considerations.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup 1 Sun-Dried Tomatoes

  • 1/2 cup 1/2 Fresh Basil

  • 2 tablespoons 2 Shredded Parmesan Cheese

  • 1 tablespoon 1 Minced Garlic

  • 1 teaspoon 1 Salt

  • 3/4 cup 3/4 Olive Oil

Step-By-Step Directions

  • Preparation Of Tomatoes
    Place the sun-dried tomatoes in a small pot.
    Cover them with water and bring to a boil.
    Once boiling, remove the pot from heat.
    Let the tomatoes sit in the hot water and soften for about 10 minutes.
    After the resting period, drain the water from the tomatoes.
  • Blending
    Combine the drained tomatoes, salt, minced garlic, shredded Parmesan cheese, and fresh basil in a blender or food processor.
    Begin blending the ingredients to break them down.
  • Adding Olive Oil
    While the blender or food processor runs, slowly pour the olive oil in a steady stream. Start with 1/4 cup, letting it blend, then continue adding until all is combined. This method ensures a smooth emulsion and consistency.
  • Taste And Adjust
    Once blended, do a taste test. Adjust the salt or garlic if necessary, depending on your preference.
  • Storage
    Transfer the prepared pesto into an airtight container. If storing for an extended period, pour a thin layer of olive oil on top to prevent oxidation.
    Store in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Notes

  • Tomato Type: If using sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, drain them well to avoid excessive oiliness. You can also reserve the oil and use it as a part of the olive oil measurement for added flavor.
  • Consistency: Depending on your preference, you can adjust the consistency. For a chunkier pesto, blend for a shorter time. For a creamier texture, add more olive oil.
  • Storage: Sun-dried tomato Pesto tastes best when consumed fresh. However, it can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week. If freezing, using it within six months is ideal for the best flavor.
  • Dietary Adaptations: For a vegan version, you can omit the Parmesan or use nutritional yeast or vegan cheese as a substitute.
  • Enhancements: Feel free to personalize the recipe. Some additions can include red chili flakes for a kick, lemon zest for brightness, or other herbs like rosemary or oregano for a different flavor profile.

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Lana Rivera
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