Rich in flavor and made with pantry ingredients, sun-dried tomato pesto is super versatile and transforms ordinary dishes into something special. It showcases the earthy richness and depth of sun-dried tomatoes. Use it atop crackers or crostini for an appetizer, add to a sandwich, stuff chicken breasts, or toss with hot pasta or risotto.
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 in hot water by soaking until soft and pliable.
- Fresh basil leaves: Of course pesto must have fresh basil.
- Sun-dried tomatoes: Buy the oil packed for this pesto recipe
- ▢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 ½ ounces
How to Use It
Here are five things you can do with sun-dried tomato pesto:
- 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 ½ – 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.
- If fresh basil is out of season and unavailable where you shop, try a combination of fresh flat leaf parsley, fresh oregano, and a few spinach leaves.
- Swap walnuts for pine nuts
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.
I keep oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes in the pantry. Remove what you need from the jar and pat off some of the extra oil with paper towels.
A Note on 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.
How to Make Sun Dried Tomato Pesto
Simply puree all of the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor with the s-blade (steel knife).
For a more traditional basil pesto, try this recipe.
Sun Dried Tomato Basil Pesto
- 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 ½ 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.