5 from 3 votes

Easy Red Pesto Pasta

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This homemade creamy red pesto pasta only takes 10 minutes to make. Made with roasted red peppers and only a handful of ingredients.
Prep time: 5 mins
Cook Time: 25 mins
Total Time: 30 mins
£0.61
Makes: 5
mains
Italian
pasta, pesto, red pepper
Freezable

Table of Contents

  1. Why I love this recipe
  2. Ingredients
  3. How to make this red pesto recipe
  4. Top tips & hints
  5. FAQ

Why I love this recipe

This red pesto pasta recipe is creamy, tangy, bright and so so flavourful. Thanks to the food processor, you just throw all of the ingredients in and you’re good to go! 

You can make this red pesto in under 5 minutes, which means that it’s ideal for a weeknight pasta dish. It’s also versatile, as you can add it to salads as a dressing, spread on toast or coat vegetables in it. 

My favourite way is of course to enjoy it as a red pesto pasta sauce though. Serve with a side of greens and you have a perfectly balanced meal, ideal for lunch or dinner! 

roasted red pepper pesto- in a bowl

Ingredients

Red peppers 

The foundation of this red pesto is roasted red peppers. They’re sweet and packed full of nutrients and provide a vibrant red colour. 

Cashews 

This homemade pesto is more budget-friendly than a lot of other recipes, as I use cashews which are a lot cheaper than pine nuts and pistachios. You can use these interchangeably though if you have them on hand. 

Parmesan 

The umami packed parmesan provides a cheesy creaminess to the red pesto pasta sauce. 

Orzo 

Orzo is a rice-shaped pasta. Pesto is pretty versatile with the type of pasta shape you want to use, so I’d go for your favourite shape with this recipe. 

Lemon 

For a tangy contrast to the rich, nutty, creamy flavours. 

Basil 

With this recipe, I don’t use basil within the actual pesto, as you would see with a traditional green pesto. We use it as a garnish to add flavour and colour. 

Garlic 

It wouldn’t be a pesto recipe without fresh garlic. 

Extra-virgin olive oil 

The rich flavour of extra virgin olive oil is crucial in any pesto recipe. 

Overhead shot of ingredients for red pepper pesto

How to make this red pesto recipe

PREHEAT OVEN TO 200°C

Start by adding the chopped peppers to a lined baking tray. Coat in rapeseed oil and season with salt. Pop in the oven for 25 minutes until the peppers are roasted and slighted charred.

Slices on red pepper on baking trayRoasted peppers on baking tray
Next, add the roasted peppers, cashews, garlic, parmesan, lemon juice, salt and red pepper flakes into a food processor.

Ingredients for pesto in food processor

Start to blend and slowly stream the extra virgin olive oil into the mix. Taste to see if it needs any more salt or lemon juice.

 

Blended pesto in food processor

Meanwhile, cook the orzo according to packet instructions.

Orzo in pan

Add the pesto to a bowl or container ready to use.

Pesto in bowl

Add the pesto to the cooked orzo, adding a ladle of pasta water to loosen.

 

Pesto added to the orzo in pan

Stir together and serve with an extra sprinkle of parmesan and enjoy!

Pesto mixed with orzo in pan

Top tips & hints

  • If you can, use a food processor rather than a blender, so that you can get a chunkier consistency rather than a smooth paste. 
  • If you do use a blender rather than a food processor, add a splash of pasta water to help the blade blend all of the ingredients. 
  • Try and get a slight char on the roasted peppers, when you roast them. I’m not really talking about burning them, just a little char will add some flavour to the creamy red pesto pasta.  
  • Season your pasta water generously with salt to ensure the pasta is seasoned as well as the pesto.
  •  Finish cooking the pasta in the pan with the red pesto and a few ladles of pasta water.

Storage 

  • Store the homemade pesto for up to a week in the fridge or freeze for up to 6 months. 

Side recommendations 

As we’re missing the green element of the pesto with this roasted red pepper pesto, I love serving this recipe with a side of greens. 

Greens that would work well with this recipe: Parmesan Tenderstem Broccoli with Garlic Butter

  • Tenderstem broccoli 
  • Steamed green beans 
  • Peas 
  • Wilted spinach 
  • Rocket side salad 

REp pepper pesto in food processor

FAQ

Is red pesto nicer than green pesto?

This is a matter of preference! Red pesto is sweeter and tangier, than green pesto thanks to the red peppers. It’s also often spicier, due to the red pepper flakes/chillies being added.  If you love basil as the overriding flavour of your pesto, you may prefer green pesto. 

Is red pesto healthy?

There is an array of nutrients in red pesto, with red peppers, cashews, lemon, extra-virgin olive oil and garlic being nutrient dense. Cashews and extra-virgin olive oil are also a great source of healthy fats. It is quite densely caloric due to the high level of fats, but when eaten alongside vegetables and eaten in a smaller serving size, it’s still healthy! 

Can it be served hot or cold?

Yes you can enjoy the red pesto hot or cold! To enjoy cold, serve on toast or combine with some extra oil to form a salad dressing. 

Can I make this a nut-free pesto?

If you have a nut allergy, you can omit the nuts and the pesto will still be delicious. You can just up the parmesan slightly to increase the creaminess.

Other easy pesto pasta recipes…

Broccoli Pesto Orzo

Gnocchi with Pesto and Charred Courgette

Spinach Pesto Gnocchi with Rocket

Other weeknight dinner recipes… 

Easy 10 Minute Naan Bread Pizza

Grilled Aubergine Curry

Gnocchi Alla Sorrentina

Roasted rep pepper pesto mixed with orzo in pan

 

Easy Red Pesto Pasta

Print Pin It
5 from 3 votes
Prep Time: 5 mins
Cook Time: 25 mins
Total Time: 30 mins
£0.61
mains
Italian
pasta, pesto, red pepper
Freezable
Servings: 5
This homemade creamy red pesto pasta only takes 10 minutes to make. Made with roasted red peppers and only a handful of ingredients.

Ingredients

  • 2-3 red peppers, seeds removed and roughly chopped (£1.00)
  • 50 g cashews (£1.39/3)=(£0.46)
  • 2 garlic cloves (£0.75/3)=(£0.25)
  • 50 g parmesan (£1.75/3)=(£0.58)
  • ½ lemon, juiced (£0.20)
  • 1 handful of fresh basil (£0.55)

Cupboard Essentials

  • 4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tbsp rapeseed oil
  • Salt & Pepper

Serve with : 400g Orzo or pasta of choice

    Method

    Preheat oven to 200°C

    • Start by adding the chopped peppers to a lined baking tray. Coat in rapeseed oil and season with salt. Pop in the oven for 25 minutes
    • Next, add the roasted peppers, cashews, garlic, parmesan, lemon juice, salt and red pepper flakes into a food processor.
    • Start to blend and slowly stream the extra virgin olive oil into the mix. Taste to see if it needs any more salt or lemon juice.
    • Stir the pesto into cooked pasta, adding a ladle of pasta water to loosen. Serve with an extra sprinkle of parmesan and enjoy!

    Nutrition

    Servings: 5 servings
    Fat: 23g
    Calories: 534kcal
    Carbohydrates: 65g
    Protein: 16g

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    Thank you so much for trying my recipe! I hope you loved it. I’d be so grateful if you could leave a comment/rating - it makes my day hearing your feedback!

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