This walnut red pesto pasta is a 20 minute dish that is bursting with flavor and so easy to make. Serve it with your favorite protein or enjoy as is! Perfect for a quick, family favorite dinner!
I can hardly go two weeks without sharing a new pasta recipe with ya’ll. They’re always popular, always delicious and always so easy to make! What’s not to love?!
This red pesto pasta is quick, easy AND flavorful, which is my kind of meal. The sauce is done and ready to go by the time the pasta is done cooking, so it’s all ready to go in about 20 minutes!
While I love serving this recipe with pasta and my turkey meatballs, it’s also great to have a jar on hand in the fridge and serve it with sandwiches or as a dip with your favorite veggies.
This pesto does call for parmesan, but if you are vegan or dairy free you can easily swap for my cashew parmesan. Promise you won’t notice a difference. If you love this recipe, try my broccoli pesto next.
Red pesto is similar to regular green pesto in that it is made with a base of a nut (usually pine nuts or walnuts), basil, olive oil, parmesan and garlic.
Red pesto, on the other hand, also uses roasted red peppers, tomato paste and sometimes roasted red peppers.
I am not a huge roasted red pepper fan so I opted to make this pesto without them, but you can definitely add in 1/2 cup of diced roasted red peppers if you want a little flavor variation. Just be sure you use ones that are from a jar with oil.
I love using fire roasted peppers, but you can use regular roasted red peppers from a jar, or make your own!
How to make red walnut pesto
COOK PASTA. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook pasta according to package instructions. Be sure to save 2/3 cup of the pasta water for the sauce.
SAUTE. Meanwhile, add the diced onion, minced garlic and half of the oil to a pan.
Saute for about 5 minutes. Add in the tomato paste and cook for an additional 3-4 minutes. This will bring out a lot more flavor than simply blending the paste into the sauce.
BLEND. Transfer to a food processor with all remaining ingredients, including the other half of the oil. Process until smooth.
SERVE. Taste and adjust flavors as desired. Toss with the cooked pasta and serve with extra basil, parmesan and red pepper flakes. Enjoy!
I love serving this red pesto pasta with a side caesar salad and grilled chicken. You can keep it vegan and serve it exactly as is, or with some hearty bread on the side!
I like to double the pesto recipe and keep a jar of it in the fridge to use on sandwiches, as a dip for veggies or on crackers throughout the week!
Does it keep?
Yes! This red pesto recipe stores well in the fridge for 3-5 days.
However, because of the sauce ingredients, it can turn a bit brown after 24 or so hours, but I promise the flavor holds up well! Just reheat it on the stove or in the microwave with a touch of oil until warm.
Spruce it up!
I added some toasted parmesan breadcrumbs to the top of the pasta and it really took this recipe to the next level. It’s totally option, but you can prep it while everything else is cooking so it’s super easy.
Just add 1/4 cup of olive oil, 3/4 cup of breadcrumbs and 1/3 cup of parmesan to a pan and heat over medium/low heat until golden brown and toasty.
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Red Pesto Pasta
by: claire cary
- 1 pound pasta of choice I used gluten free
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 small red onion diced
- ½ cup tomato paste
- 4 roasted red peppers I like fire roasted, but regular work too
- ⅔ cup fresh basil
- ¾ cup walnuts
- ½ cup parmesan see notes
- ⅔ cup pasta water
- 1-2 teaspoons red pepper flakes more or less depending on spice preference
- ¾ teaspoon salt or to taste
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook pasta according to package instructions. Be sure to save 2/3 cup of the pasta water for the sauce.
- Meanwhile, add the diced onion, minced garlic and half of the oil to a pan.
- Saute for about 5 minutes. Add in the tomato paste and cook for an additional 3-4 minutes.
- Transfer to a food processor with all remaining ingredients, including the other half of the oil.
- Process until smooth.
- Taste and adjust flavors as desired.
- Toss with the cooked pasta and serve with extra basil, parmesan and red pepper flakes. Enjoy!
Thank you for an easy and tasty recipe! This pasta was so good topped with the cashew parmesan.
This sauce was amazing! And so easy! Great flavor! I used chickpea rigatoni and it worked great. I also had a bunch of fresh veggies that I sauteed and mixed in for some extra veggie content. Loved it and will definitely make it again!
This sauce was amazing and such a hit with my family! We marinated them roasted the red peppers which gave it a perfect flavor compliment to the rest of the recipe.
Claire Cary says
wow that sounds delicious! So happy you all enjoyed it!