Chef John’s Secret to the Best Pesto? Make It Red

Chef John’s Secret to the Best Pesto? Make It Red

Background and History

Pesto, originating from Italy, is traditionally a vibrant green sauce made with basil, pine nuts, Parmesan, garlic, and olive oil. Chef John adds a twist to this classic by infusing rich red tones, creating a visually stunning and flavorful Red Pesto. Let’s dive into the secrets and steps to elevate your pesto game.


2 cups fresh basil leaves

1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes (packed in oil)

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste


Approximately 6 people


Preparation: 15 minutes

Total: 15 minutes

Cooking Time

Not applicable; no cooking required.


Prepare Ingredients

Gather and measure fresh basil leaves, sun-dried tomatoes, Parmesan cheese, toasted pine nuts, and minced garlic.

Combine in a Processor

In a food processor, add basil, sun-dried tomatoes, Parmesan, pine nuts, and garlic.

Pulse Until Coarse

Pulse the ingredients until coarsely chopped. Scrape down the sides of the processor to ensure even mixing.

Stream in Olive Oil

With the food processor running, slowly stream in the extra-virgin olive oil until the mixture reaches your desired consistency.

Season to Taste

Add salt and pepper to taste. Pulse again to combine.

Serve or Store

Spoon the Red Pesto into a bowl and use immediately as a sauce, dip, or spread. Alternatively, store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for later use.

Nutrition Facts

Red Pesto provides a unique twist to traditional pesto, with the added flavors of sun-dried tomatoes.

Rich in healthy fats from olive oil and pine nuts.


Customize the consistency by adjusting the amount of olive oil.

Experiment with different nuts like almonds or walnuts for varied textures.

Allergy Warning

Pine nuts and Parmesan are common allergens. Check for allergies before serving.

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