Red pesto pasta with sundried tomatoes, toasted pine nuts, Parmigiano Reggiano, and cream is rich in flavor and texture but so easy to throw together quickly.  This simple pasta is perfect for weeknights or whenever you’re short on time but still want something delicious!

Red Pesto pasta in pan with large metal spoon.

Red pesto pasta is basically a sun dried tomato pesto with cream that we came up with on a whim.

It always amazes us how some pantry basics like pasta, sundried tomatoes, and pine nuts, combined with cheese and cream can really make for an EASY and outstanding meal.

This red pesto pasta is great by itself, or alongside some baked artichoke hearts with breadcrumbs or even a simple green salad.

Ingredients shown: Parmigiano Reggiano, sun dried tomato (red pesto), and fusilli pasta.

How to make it

Each number corresponds to the numbered written steps below.

  1. Grate a 1/4 cup of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.
  2. In a dry pan over medium-low heat, toast 2 tablespoons of pine nuts until golden and fragrant (about 3-5 minutes).  Give the nuts a toss or stir throughout to prevent burning.  Watch carefully the whole time as pine nuts can burn very easily.  Once toasted, remove the nuts from the pan and set aside.

Red Pesto (sun dried tomato pesto) pasta recipe process shot collage group number one.

  1. Drain 8 ounces of oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes over a bowl and reserve the oil.  To a blender or food processor, add 1 clove of garlic, the sun-dried tomatoes, the pine nuts, and a 1/4 cup of the sun dried tomato oil.  Blend together until incorporated adding extra olive oil as needed.  Once blended, add in the Parmigiano Reggiano and mix together.
  2. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil and begin to cook your pasta until al dente.  Be sure to reserve 2 cups of pasta water.  In a large pan, saute the red pesto over medium heat for 2 minutes, stirring frequently.
  3. Add 1 cup of heavy cream and bring to a simmer.  
  4. Once simmering, turn the heat down to low and wait for the pasta to finish cooking.

Recipe process shot collage group number two.

  1. Add the pasta along with a 1/2 cup of pasta water to the red pesto cream sauce and give it a toss.  
  2. If needed, add a little more pasta water a bit at a time to loosen it up.  Taste test and season with salt and pepper to taste as needed.  Serve with additional grated Parmigiano Reggiano and enjoy!  

Top tips for red pesto pasta

  • The oil.  We love the flavor the oil from the sun dried tomatoes imparts on the dish but that being said, feel free to use regular extra virgin olive oil instead.  
  • The pasta. We used fusilli with the sun dried tomato pesto because every now and then we like to change up the shapes.  We often use rigatoni and penne in many other dishes and both would be fine here, as would bowties or any other medium-sized pasta. As with most of our recipes, we recommend reserving pasta water to help loosen up the red pesto if it becomes too dry.
  • The pine nuts.  Pine nuts, or pignoli, can be expensive at times but we often keep them on hand and consider them a staple for Italian-American cooking.  Trader Joe’s will often have good prices on them but if it’s not in your budget, you can try substituting with walnuts which are a little cheaper.

Red pesto pasta in black plate with bowl of chili flakes on the side.

More sun dried tomato recipes

If you like red pesto pasta with sun dried tomatoes, we think you’ll love these other recipes!

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Red Pesto Pasta

5 from 1 vote
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Total: 25 minutes
Servings: 4
Red pesto pasta with sundried tomatoes, garlic, toasted pignoli nuts, oil, Parmigiano Reggiano, simmered with cream and tossed with fusilli pasta.


For the red pesto

  • 8 ounces oil-packed sun dried tomatoes drained, reserve the oil
  • 1 clove garlic chopped
  • 1/4 cup reserved sun-dried tomato olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts toasted
  • 1/4 cup Parmigiano Reggiano grated

For the pasta

  • 1 pound fusilli pasta or any shape you like
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 cups reserved pasta water will most likely not need all of it
  • Parmigiano Reggiano grated, for serving


  • Blend together the red pesto ingredients except for the cheese. If needed, use a bit more extra olive oil to blend together. Once blended, mix in the grated cheese and season pesto with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Bring a large pot of salted water to boil then cook pasta until al dente.
  • In a large pan saute the red pesto over medium heat for 2 minutes, stirring frequently.
  • Add the cream and bring to a simmer. Once simmering turn the heat down to low and wait for the pasta.
  • Add the pasta and a 1/2 cup of pasta water to the red pesto cream sauce and toss to coat. If needed add more of the pasta water to loosen it up. Turn the heat off and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with grated Parmigiano. Enjoy!


  • The sun-dried tomato oil will add to the flavor of the dish, but regular olive oil can also be used.
  • Always reserve pasta water. If the pasta dries out before serving, just add a few ounces of the pasta water to bring the consistency right back to perfect.
  • Leftovers can be saved for up to 3 days and can be reheated in the microwave.


Calories: 773kcal | Carbohydrates: 98.7g | Protein: 20g | Fat: 37.1g | Saturated Fat: 10.6g | Cholesterol: 45mg | Sodium: 209mg | Potassium: 933mg | Fiber: 7.6g | Sugar: 4.1g | Calcium: 95mg | Iron: 5mg

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

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