If you are a pesto lover, this Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto Pasta is an easy weeknight meal just for you! A twist on classic pesto, this dish combines sweet and savory sun-dried tomatoes with the classic pesto flavors of basil and Parmesan…with a touch of heavy cream. You can make my homemade sun-dried tomato pesto, or use store-bought. Either way, you’ll have a delicious meal on the table in less than 30 minutes!
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This sun-dried tomato pesto pasta is a twist on classic pesto pasta. Sweet sun-dried tomatoes are blended with fresh basil and Parmesan cheese then tossed with your favorite pasta and a touch of heavy cream.
I highly suggest making my homemade sun-dried tomato pesto (it takes just 10 minutes!). If you make a double batch, you can freeze it and use it for pasta, over chicken or fish, as a sandwich spread, or even a pizza sauce!
You can also try my more traditional “green” pesto: Basil and Arugula Pesto. It’s delish stirred into hot pasta dishes like this Pesto Gnocchi with Lemon or cold pasta salads like this Caprese Pesto Orzo Salad!
WHY YOU’LL LOVE THIS RECIPE
- A delicious twist of traditional pesto pasta.
- You can use homemade sun-dried tomato pesto or store-bought.
- Quick and easy–ready in 30 minutes (less, if you use store-bought pesto!)
You’ll need the following ingredients to make this delicious Sun Dried Tomato Pesto Pasta:
Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto (“Pesto Rosso”): My homemade sun-dried tomato pesto is super easy and takes 10 minutes to make! Or you can buy it store-bought, like this Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto from Classico. You can find jarred pesto near the pasta sauce at the grocery store.
Pasta: Feel free to use your favorite pasta shape. Pasta with grooves (like Penne Rigate) or shell-type pasta are both great since there are places to hold all that delicious pesto!
HOW TO MAKE SUN-DRIED TOMATO PESTO PASTA: STEP BY STEP
Here are some quick visual instructions. Remember that full instructions with exact ingredients will be in the recipe card below!
Step 1: In a large pot of salted water, boil up your pasta according to package directions; set aside.
Step 3: Add pesto to a large pan and heat for 2-3. minutes. Then, add heavy cream.
Step 4: Add in cooked pasta. Toss until well-coated with the sauce. Stir in lemon juice. Add in a few splashes of the reserved pasta water, if the sauce seems too thick. Top with Parmesan cheese and a little lemon zest (if using) and serve right away.
RECIPE TIPS & TRICKS
- For a creamier pasta, increase the amount of heavy cream by one cup.
- When draining your pasta, don’t forget to save a bit of the cooking liquid. It helps to thin out the pesto a bit when tossing it with the pasta. I always keep a measuring cup right by the stove so I don’t forget to save some of the liquid!
⭐️ CONFIDENCE TIP ⭐️
If you are making homemade Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto, make a double batch the freeze it! Freeze the pesto in small portions in ice cube trays for 3-4 hours or until frozen. Then, transfer these smaller portions to a zip-top freezer bag. Pull out a cube or two whenever you want and enjoy it over chicken, fish, or as a spread for sandwiches!
STORAGE & REHEATING
- Storage: Store leftover pesto pasta in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days.
- Reheating: Leftovers make a quick lunch the next day! To reheat, simply use the microwave or reheat in a small skillet. Add a small splash of heavy cream, chicken stock, or water to loosen up the sauce a bit. Add a fresh squeeze of lemon juice to brighten it up!
- Freezing: Because of the heavy cream in this pasta dish, I do not recommend freezing it.
Here are few additions you can try:
- Chicken: Make chicken pesto pasta by adding in chopped cooked chicken breasts — it’s super delish with grilled chicken!
- Italian Sausage: Brown up some Italian sausage and add it to this pasta dish-divine!
- Nuts: Many sun-dried tomato pesto recipes include nuts. While it’s not my personal preference, toasted pine nuts, almonds or walnuts can all be great additions!
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Pasta with grooves or shell-type pasta are both great since there are places to hold all that delicious pesto! Penne pasta (with grooves or “Rigate”), Cavatappi (corkscrew), and shells work great!
Yes, you can. You will just have to add more starchy cooking liquid from the pasta to help loosen up the sauce a bit.
Easy Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto Pasta
- 12 oz. penne pasta + 1/2 cup reserved pasta water or your favorite pasta shape
- 8.5 oz. jar sun dried tomato pesto or (1) recipe homemade Sun Dried Tomato Pesto (recipe below)
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1 tbsp lemon juice + zest of one lemon zest is optional
- Parmesan cheese, for serving
Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto Recipe (if using, See Note 1)
- 1 8.5 oz. jar oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
- 1 cup fresh basil leaves, loosely packed
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese fresh Parmesan or Parmigiano Reggiano works best
- 2-3 large garlic cloves
- 2 tsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp honey
- 1 tsp kosher salt + more to taste
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- red pepper flakes, to taste (optional)
For the Sun Dried Tomato Pesto (optional, See Note 1)
- In a food processor, add sun-dried tomatoes, basil leaves, Parmesan cheese, garlic, lemon juice, honey, salt, and a pinch of red pepper flakes (if using). Pulse 3-4 times until ingredients are finely chopped. Scrape down the sides of the food processor.
- With the food processor running, add olive oil and blend 10-15 seconds more until everything is well-combined. Taste. Season with a bit more salt, if needed. If the pesto seems too thick, add a little extra olive oil and blend until you reach your desired consistency.
- Transfer pesto to a small bowl and set aside.
For the Sun-Dried Tomato Pasta
- Prep: In a large pot of boiling salted water, add pasta. Cook to al dente according to package instructions. Drain and set aside. While the pasta cooks, make your homemade pesto (if you aren't using store-bought).
- Make the Sauce: In a large skillet over medium heat, add pesto. Cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Then, stir in heavy cream and cook until heated through.
- Finish: Add in cooked pasta. Toss until well-coated with the sauce. Stir in lemon juice. Add in a few splashes of the reserved pasta water if the sauce seems to thick. Top with Parmesan cheese and a little lemon zest (if using) and serve right away.