Sun-Dried Tomato Basil Pesto

By Sally Cameron on March 12, 2010

Appetizers, Chicken & Turkey, Sauces & Dressings, Vegetarian

Make pesto and discover a great way to showcase the earthy richness and depth of sun-dried tomatoes. Sun-dried tomato basil pesto is super versatile and transforms ordinary dishes into something special. Use it atop crackers or crostini for an appetizer, add to a sandwich, stuff chicken breasts, or toss with hot pasta. It’s rich in flavor.

Sundried Tomato Pesto |

Sun-Dried Tomato Basil Pesto

Sun-dried tomatoes are readily available in both oil-packed and dried versions, and easy to keep in your pantry. Re-hydrate the dried ones before using. Easy to keep in the pantry too.

Recipe Ideas for Using Sun Dried Tomato Pesto

Three things I’ve done recently with this recipe: stuffed chicken breasts for dinner, made appetizers for a party, and created Panini sandwiches for a quick and satisfying lunch.

  • Stuffed Chicken Breast – slit a pocket in a boneless, skinless chicken breast being careful not to cut all of the way through. Place approximately 1 1/2 – 2 tablespoons of the pesto inside. In a hot sauté pan, brown the chicken breasts in a little olive oil, then finish in a 375 degree oven until they reach 160-165 degrees on a digital thermometer. Remove chicken from the oven and allow to rest for a few minutes. You’ll have rich, sun-dried tomato stuffed chicken to enjoy for dinner.
  • Appetizers – slice up a fresh baguette, brush with olive oil and toast or grill the slices a bit first, then top with the sun-dried tomato pesto. For a fancier version use a star shaped cookie cutter and cut stars out of sliced bread, brush with olive oil and toast them on a rimmed baking sheet until golden. Then using a #60 round squeeze disher, create perfect mounds of pesto on top of the stars and garnish with chopped parsley and extra shredded Parmesan cheese.
  • Pasta Sauce – Toss  a few tablespoons with hot pasta and a little half and half or milk and you have a creamy, flavor-packed pasta side dish. Top with simple sautéed chicken breast or grilled jumbo shrimp for a more substantial main course.
  • Pizza Crust Sauce – spread on a pizza crust and make homemade pizza.
  • Risotto – I swirl mine into risotto for an unbeatable sun-dried tomato risotto.

Ingredient Tips

Basil –Buy large containers of fresh basil leaves in most grocery store produce sections. The recipe calls for 1 cup of packed leaves which is about 3 ounces total after you’ve removed the stems.

Nuts – Use either pine nuts or walnuts for pesto. Both work.

If you have raw nuts, toast them yourself as toasting intensifies their flavor. To toast walnuts or pine nuts pre-heat an oven to 300 degrees. Scatter the nuts on a rimmed metal baking sheet and place in the oven for about 20-30 minutes. Shake the pan once in awhile. You’ll just start to smell them when they are ready. Keep a close eye on them as nuts burn easily due to their high oil content. If you don’t have time to toast the nuts the pesto still has an incredible flavor.

Sundried Tomato Pesto |
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Sun Dried Tomato Basil Pesto

A versatile and easy recipe that holds well in the refrigerator and even freezes. Use atop crackers or crostini for an appetizer, add to a sandwich, stuff chicken breasts, or toss with hot pasta.
Course Appetizer
Cuisine American
Keyword basil, Pesto, sun-dried tomatoes, Tomato
Prep Time 10 minutes


  • 1 cup packed fresh basil leaves
  • 1 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1 cup toasted pine nuts American or Italian
  • 4 cloves of garlic minced fine
  • 1 lemon, juiced about 3-4 tablespoons
  • 1 pinch red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • Olive oil as needed
  • 1 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese about 4 1/2 ounces


  • In a food processor fitted with the steel blade, pulse basil, sun-dried tomatoes and their oil, nuts, garlic, lemon juice, salt and pepper until blended and chopped fine. Add cheese and pulse again until well combined. If desired, add more olive oil. Pulse until smooth as you desire. Refrigerate or freeze (in small containers or ice cube trays)


For the Toasted Star appetizer: Use a 2 3/4″ steel cookie cutter to cut stars out of sliced bread. I can get 2 stars out of each slice. Pre-heat the oven to 325 degrees. Brush the stars with a combination of a little olive oil and granulated garlic, then bake a few minutes until golden on a baking sheet. Cool and top with the pesto. For great presentation use a small tool called a disher. It looks like a mini-ice cream scooper. I use the #60 size disher for this appetizer. You can bake the stars ahead of time and assemble just before serving.
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  1. Vicky - March 12th, 2012

    I love basil pesto and have made it many times but never with sun-dried tomatoes too – will have to try that!

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