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!
The foundation of this red pesto is roasted red peppers. They’re sweet and packed full of nutrients and provide a vibrant red colour.
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.
The umami packed parmesan provides a cheesy creaminess to the red pesto pasta sauce.
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.
For a tangy contrast to the rich, nutty, creamy flavours.
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.
It wouldn’t be a pesto recipe without fresh garlic.
The rich flavour of extra virgin olive oil is crucial in any 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.
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.
Meanwhile, cook the orzo according to packet instructions.
Add the pesto to a bowl or container ready to use.
Add the pesto to the cooked orzo, adding a ladle of pasta water to loosen.
Stir together and serve with an extra sprinkle of parmesan and enjoy!
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
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.