Red Pepper Pesto

5 from 4 votes
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This red pepper pesto dish is elegant, flavorful, full of texture and will really uplift your next pasta night. Ready in under 30 minutes. You can smother this on crispy bread, over fish, chicken or mix it into your favorite pasta.

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Why Make Red Pepper Pesto?

When it comes to versatile and vibrant condiments, pesto has long been a favorite. Originating from Italy, the classic basil pesto is celebrated for its aromatic basil leaves, pine nuts, and Parmesan cheese. But have you ever ventured beyond the traditional green and explored the world of red pepper pesto? You will love it.

You can fold this red pepper pesto into pastas, spread it on pizzas for a great “sauce” base. Dip Air Fryer Garlic Bread in it or eat it on sandwiches, Turkey Burgers and more. The options are endless here. It’s a great sauce and dip for so many things.

Ingredients For This Recipe

Glass bowls with ingredients in them and fresh herbs all on a counter.

Pine Nuts. Pine nuts will offer a more neutral flavor and color for this pesto. They are pricy, but you only need a small amount to make about 2 cups of pesto.

Olive Oil. Non bitter, light EVOO will work best.

Sun Dried Tomatoes. Be sure to use the ones that come in oil. They provide the best flavor and texture for this pesto.

Roasted Red Bell Peppers. You can use the type in the jar or roast two bell peppers yourself in the oven. Skin and seed the peppers and discard extra liquid.

Basil. Fresh basil works best.

All other ingredients and measurements can be found in the recipe card below. 

Recipe Variations

Pasta. Use any pasta shape of choice, you can also serve this with toasted pita, bread or chips.

Pine Nuts. Walnuts will also work great. They will make the pesto a little darker in color.

Roasted Red Peppers. I recommend jarred roasted red peppers, you can easily roast two bell peppers yourself and discard skin and seeds for a more fresh approach.

Sun Dried Tomatoes. I only recommend the kind that come in oil. The others that are just dehydrated are a bit too dry and don’t blend nicely.

Parmesan. You can also use pecorino or, to make this dairy free, just skip the parmesan. You will need a bit more salt to replace the salt in the Parmesan.

How To Make This Recipe

Small food processor with ingredients in it and then bleded with a spoon.

Step One. If serving with pasta, start the pasta cook according to the package. Add all the pesto ingredients to a food processor.

Step Two. Taste the pesto, ensure that it suits your salt level. Drain pasta (Be sure to reserve 1 cup of pasta water to mix pesto in!).

Sauce pan with pasta and red pepper pesto mixed in.

Step Three. Add about 1 cup of pesto and half of the reserved pasta water to the pasta, mix well. If you want more pesto, add more, otherwise you can keep the leftovers for later.

If you have any leftovers, you can store in an airtight container for up to 4 days or keep in an airtight ziplock back in the freezer for up to 2 months.

Two white bowls with a silver fork ad red pesto and a sprig of basil.

Recipe FAQ’s.

How does red pepper pesto differ from traditional pesto?

Red pepper pesto is a flavorful sauce made from roasted red bell peppers, nuts (usually almonds or pine nuts), grated Parmesan cheese, garlic, olive oil, and seasonings. It differs from traditional basil pesto by replacing basil with red peppers or sun-dried tomatoes, resulting in a sweet, smoky, and savory flavor profile.

How do I adjust the consistency of red pepper pesto?

Adjust the consistency easily! If your pesto is too thick, you can thin it out by gradually adding more olive oil until you achieve your desired consistency. If it’s too thin, you can add more nuts, grated Parmesan cheese, or even breadcrumbs to thicken it.

Can I make red pepper pesto ahead of time for a party or event?

Yes,make red pepper pesto ahead of time, it is an excellent make-ahead condiment. Prepare it a day or two in advance and refrigerate it in an airtight container until you’re ready to use it.

I don’t have pine nuts!

No problem, use walnuts instead. They are just as delicious in this recipe.

Recipe Tips

Be sure to control the consistency! Adjust the thickness of your pesto by adding more olive oil if it’s too thick or more nuts if it’s too thin. Remember that the consistency can be adapted to suit your preference or intended use.

Don’t forget to save the pasta water! If you are mixing this into pasta, make sure to use pasta water to help thin it out and spread it around the pasta. It really adds a great consistency.

Store Properly. To prevent your red pepper pesto from darkening or losing flavor, store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator. You can also top it with a thin layer of olive oil to create a seal and maintain freshness.

Recipe Pairings

Sandwich Spread: Use it as a spread for sandwiches or my Pesto Wraps

Pizza Sauce: Replace traditional pizza sauce with red pepper pesto for a unique and flavorful pizza topping

Grilled Meats and Vegetables: Drizzle it over grilled chicken, my Blackened Steak, or vegetables for a burst of flavor.

Dipping Sauce: Serve it as a dip for Overnight Bread, crackers, or raw vegetables.

Salad Dressing: Thin it out with a bit of olive oil and use it as a salad dressing. Like on my Red Pepper Kale Salad.

Other Pasta Recipes You Might Like

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White bowl with pesto and red peppers and noodles. A black fork in the bowl with grey towel.
5 from 4 votes

Red Pepper Pesto

This red pepper pesto dish is elegant, flavorful, full of texture and will really uplift your next pasta night. Ready in under 30 minutes. You can smother this on crispy bread, over fish, chicken or mix it into your favorite pasta.
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Servings: 4

Equipment

  • small food processor 3-4 cup processor.

Ingredients 

  • 6 cups pasta, optional for serving.
  • 1 cup pasta water, to thin the sauce and spread it with pasta

Red Pepper Pesto

  • 1 15 oz jar roasted red peppers, *see notes
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ½ cup sun dried tomatoes in oil
  • cup pine nuts, *see notes
  • cup fresh basil
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • ¼ cup parmesan , *more for garnish

Instructions 

  • If serving with pasta, start the pasta cook according to the package. Add all the pesto ingredients to a food processor. 
  • Taste the pesto, ensure that it suits your salt level. Drain pasta (Be sure to reserve 1 cup of pasta water to mix pesto in!).
  • Add about 1 cup of pesto and half of the reserved pasta water to the pasta, mix well. If you want more pesto, add more, otherwise you can keep the leftovers for later.

Notes

*about 2 bell peppers if roasting yourself or a full jar, drained of pre made peppers. 
*walnuts will also work.
If you have any leftovers, you can store in an airtight container for up to 4 days or keep in an airtight ziplock back in the freezer for up to 2 months. 
 

Nutrition

Serving: 1.5cup with pasta | Calories: 343kcal | Carbohydrates: 26g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 26g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 6g | Monounsaturated Fat: 14g | Cholesterol: 4mg | Sodium: 2177mg | Potassium: 1420mg | Fiber: 7g | Sugar: 14g | Vitamin A: 2297IU | Vitamin C: 45mg | Calcium: 155mg | Iron: 5mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Author: Bailey
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Course: Sauces & Dressings
Cuisine: Italian
Servings: 4
Calories: 343
Keyword: 15 minute, dips, pasta
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Recipe Rating




7 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Okay this outweighs regular pesto in my opinion. We ate it all week long and it got better and better throughout the week. I just added a little extra olive oil to it throughout to keep the dish moist.

  2. 5 stars
    This is delicious! How do you suggest storing it and what is the shelf life?

    1. Hi Devon!
      I typically store mine in a small tupperware container for up to 6 days in the fridge. You can also freeze it in a ziplock for up to 2 months. Happy to hear you enjoyed it.

  3. 5 stars
    Good grief that tomato pesto is amazing I made it twice in one week. I add extra oil so it spreads more.

  4. Can’t wait to make it! What food processor do you use? Thank you!

    1. I have an old ninja! It’s on it’s last leg and will need a new one soon. I will most likely get another ninja 🙂