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With sun-dried tomatoes and roasted red peppers, this vegan red pesto sauce is easy and delicious! Serve it with pasta, or use it as a dip or a spread. Recipe is gluten-free and can easily be made with or without nuts.

Overhead photo of a white bowl filled with red pesto spaghetti.

It’s no secret that I LOVE a good pesto sauce (this vegan hemp seed pesto is my go-to) and a good vegan pasta sauce recipe, which is why I’m so excited to share a vegan twist on the more familiar green pesto!

We’re making a red pesto (“pesto rosso”) using sun-dried tomatoes and roasted red peppers. If you’re new to red pesto, you are in for a treat 🙂

As a dietitian, I’m happy to share that this sun-dried tomato pesto is not only delicious, but it’s packed with nutrition benefits, too.

In this post I’ll go over the health benefits of red pesto, ways to use it, recipe modifications, and more. I hope you enjoy it and I’d love to know what you serve it with in the comments!

Want more healthy sauce recipes? Check out my roundup of healthy homemade sauces + dressings for more ideas!

Closeup photo of a white bowl filled with red pesto spaghetti.

What Is Red Pesto Made Of?

While green pesto gets its signature colour from fresh basil or other greens, red pesto is made with sun-dried tomatoes and/or roasted red peppers. These ingredients give red pesto a nice orangey-red colour.

This red pesto has a slightly sweeter and tangier flavour than green pesto – almost like a cross between traditional pesto and tomato sauce!

Is Pesto Vegan?

Traditionally, no. Pesto recipes usually contain a cheese, like parmesan.

This sun-dried tomato pesto recipe, however, uses nutritional yeast as a vegan or non-dairy substitute for parmesan cheese. It has a lovely cheesy flavour, plus plenty of B-vitamins!

While I love me some freshly grated parmesan, I wanted to share a dairy-free option for those who need it. That said, if you’d like to make this with parmesan instead of nutritional yeast – you totally can 😉

Red Pesto Nutrition & Health Benefits

Red peppers are rich in antioxidants called carotenoids, and are a great source of vitamins + minerals, like:

  • vitamin C
  • vitamin B6
  • vitamin K
  • potassium
  • folate
  • vitamin E
  • vitamin A

Similarly, sun-dried tomatoes are also rich in an antioxidant called lycopene, along with micronutrients like:

  • vitamin C
  • vitamin K
  • niacin
  • manganese
  • potassium
  • copper

Red peppers and sun-dried tomatoes are both excellent sources of dietary fiber, which helps to promote a healthy digestive system.

In addition, walnuts and olive oil are fantastic sources of heart-healthy fats. Walnuts are particularly high in omega-3s.

Overhead photo of small bowls and cups of ingredients on a wooden cutting board.

How To Use Red Pesto (Serving Ideas!)

  1. Toss with pasta (no surprises here ;))
  2. Use as a spread in sandwiches, wraps, or open-faced toasts
  3. Add to an egg dish (sunny side up, scrambled, frittatas, etc).
  4. Use as a dip for crackers or spread over crusty bread
  5. Serve in a small bowl and add to a charcuterie or cheese board
  6. Stir in to a grain bowl for an extra burst of flavour
  7. Serve over seafood or meats
  8. Add to homemade pizza

Recipe Modifications & Ingredient Swaps

  1. While I LOVED using walnuts in this recipe (it gave the sauce an almost bolognese-type quality), you can swap the walnuts with most nuts or seeds. For instance, you could try this with hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, pine nuts, or almonds.
  2. Using nutritional yeast was what made this recipe vegan, but if you’d prefer to use parmesan cheese it would work perfectly too!
  3. Red pepper flakes add a bit of a kick, but they’re optional and can be left out if desired.
Overhead photo of a red pesto sauce mixed in a large food processor.

Can You Freeze Pesto?

You can store leftover red pesto in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.

If you’d like to freeze it, I recommend adding the pesto to silicone ice cube trays, freezing those, then popping out the frozen pesto cubes into a freezer-safe bag. Return the bag to the freezer and take out/thaw cubes as needed!

My Favourite Food Processor

Overhead photo of a white bowl filled with red pesto spaghetti.

More Vegan Sauce Recipes

Did you give this Vegan Red Pesto Sauce Recipe a try? Let me know by leaving a comment and recipe rating below!

If you do make this recipe, don’t forget to tag me on Instagram or Pinterest – seeing your creations always makes my day. You can also subscribe to my email list to never miss a new recipe or nutrition education post!

Get the Recipe: Sun-Dried Tomato Red Pesto Sauce (Vegan)

With sun-dried tomatoes and roasted red peppers, this vegan red pesto sauce is easy and delicious! Serve it with pasta, or use it as a dip or a spread. Easily made with or without nuts.
Overhead photo of a white bowl filled with red pesto spaghetti.
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5 from 5 votes
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Ingredients

  • 2 large red peppers, cored + quartered
  • 6 Tbsp olive oil (use 1 Tbsp for roasting peppers)
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 cup sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1/3 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, tightly packed (1 standard 28g or 1oz. pack)
  • 1/2 cup raw walnuts (or other nut/seed)
  • 1 lemon, juice
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • Salt + pepper, to taste

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 400F.
  • Place sliced peppers onto a baking sheet. Toss with 1 Tbsp olive oil and a sprinkle of salt + pepper. Place in the oven for 15-20 minutes, tossing halfway.
  • Remove roasted peppers from the oven and add to a large food processor along with all other ingredients.
  • Blend ingredients in the food processor until well-combined. The pesto should be smooth, but with some chunks/texture to it. Adjust seasonings to taste and feel free to add more olive oil if desired!

Notes

*TYPE OF SUN-DRIED TOMATOES: you can make this recipe with either sun-dried tomatoes in oil OR the ones stored in a dry package. I’ve tried this recipe with both. The ones jarred in oil are a little softer and would be my preference, but don’t stress if you can only find the packaged ones! Simply add an extra bit of olive oil if you feel that it needs it 🙂
*STORAGE: You can store leftover red pesto in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. If you’d like to freeze it, I recommend adding the pesto to silicone ice cube trays, freezing those, then popping out the frozen pesto cubes into a freezer-safe bag. Return the bag to the freezer and take out/thaw cubes as needed!
*WAYS TO USE RED PESTO:
  • Toss with pasta (no surprises here ;))
  • Use as a spread in sandwiches, wraps, or open-faced toasts
  • Add to an egg dish (sunny side up, scrambled, frittatas, etc).
  • Use as a dip for crackers or spread over crusty bread
  • Serve in a small bowl and add to a charcuterie or cheese board
  • Stir in to a grain bowl for an extra burst of flavour
  • Serve over seafood or meats
  • Add to homemade pizza
 
*RECIPE MODIFICATIONS:
  • While I LOVED using walnuts in this recipe (it gave the sauce an almost bolognese-type quality), you can swap the walnuts with most nuts or seeds. For instance, you could try this with hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, pine nuts, or almonds.
  • Using nutritional yeast was what made this recipe vegan, but if you’d prefer to use parmesan cheese it would work perfectly too!
  • Red pepper flakes add a bit of a kick, but they’re optional and can be left out if desired.

Nutrition

As a dietitian, I create recipes with whole food ingredients that provide the nutrients needed for optimal health. My nutrition philosophy does not focus on numbers; however, I understand that this information can be helpful.

Do note that the nutrition info provided is an estimate and I cannot guarantee correctness of the displayed values. These numbers will differ depending on brands used, recipe modifications, and amount eaten. If you require specific nutrition information due to medical reasons, please consult with your dietitian or physician.

Did you make this recipe?

Let me know by leaving a recipe rating below, or by tagging @walderwellness on Instagram. I love seeing your beautiful creations!

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