This pesto rosso alla trapanese is creamy, tastes delicious, and is perfect not only to eat with pasta but to use as a spread for crusty bread or pizza! And best of all, you can make it in only 10 minutes!

I heard about pesto rosso alla trapanese on our first trip to Sicily back in 2003 and I am glad the aunt of our friend Antonio (our guest on that trip), was so kind to share the recipe with us.

Don’t worry, even if it sounds fancy, the recipe is really super easy to make! You’ll simply place all of the ingredients in a food processor and pulse a few times.

Once done, enjoy this fabulous creamy condiment with your favorite pasta, or as a spread for pizza or focaccia, bruschetta, or panini.

What is Pesto Rosso?

Pesto rosso is an Italian traditional recipe from Sicily. It consists of a creamy condiment made of tomatoes, pine nuts, basil, garlic, pecorino, ricotta, and olive oil.

The name means “red pesto” because, unlike green pesto which uses a large quantity of basil leaves, the red version uses tomatoes as the main ingredient.

The traditional recipe calls for fresh tomatoes, however, outside Italy is frequently made with sun-dried tomatoes as a substitute.

Pesto rosso in a jar.

Ingredients

  • Tomatoes —In this recipe, I am using fresh tomatoes.
  • Ricotta —to add creaminess.
  • Pecorino —Sicilian pecorino is the most common choice in Sicily, but actually, you can use other types of hard cheese, like parmesan cheese or pecorino romano, parmigiano reggiano, etc.
  • Fresh basil — make sure to lightly pack the leaves into your cup when measuring.
  • Oil —I recommend a high-quality extra virgin olive oil.
  • Nuts —Pine nuts or almonds, is really up to you. You can also add other nuts like walnuts, cashews, etc.
  • Aromatics & spices —Garlic, salt, and pepper to your taste. I like my red pesto to have a balanced flavor so I do not add too much garlic.
Ingredients for pesto rosso labeled with names and displayed on a concrete surface.

*Scroll down to see the exact measurements in the recipe card.

How To Make Pesto Rosso Alla Trapanese

  • Cut tomatoes into halves, remove the core, and discard the seeds. Place them to drain on a colander for about 20 minutes.
  • In a food processor place the tomatoes, basil, pecorino, pine nuts, and garlic cloves (see notes).
  • Add salt and pepper (just a little bit, you’ll adjust later), and then pour in the olive oil. Pulse until the ingredients are finely chopped or until you reach the desired consistency.
  • Place the mixture in a medium bowl. Add ricotta and season with salt and pepper. Mix until everything is combined.
  • Transfer into a large jar and add the remaining olive oil on top. Store in the fridge or use it immediately.

See? Easy-peasy!

Recipe Notes

  • Don’t skip draining the tomatoes or you will end up with a runny mixture.
  • If you have a small food processor you can work in batches adding small amounts of the ingredients each time.
  • You can also blanch the tomatoes and peel them before deseeding or roast them for a depth of flavor.
  • Do you want your pesto to have a little more color? Add one teaspoon of tomato paste or a couple of sun-dried tomatoes.
A ceramic baking dish with fusilli pasta coated with pesto rosso.

What Do You Use Pesto Rosso For?

While our first option is to use this pesto alla trapanese to coat our favorite pasta, the truth is it can be used in so many other ways. For example:

  • Bruschetta: Toast some slices of bread, let it cool slightly then spread the pesto on top. So delicious!
  • Wraps: My husband loves wraps of grilled veggies, mozzarella, and pesto!
  • Sandwiches: Get some sandwich bread, spread with pesto, add some slices of Fontina (or any other string cheese), and then to the grill for a few minutes…mamma mia!
  • Pizza: Add some dollops of pesto on top of your favorite pizza to bring it to the next level!
  • Dip: Use as sauce or dip for fried mozzarella or fresh veggies.

How To Store

Because of the fresh ricotta cheese, this pesto doesn’t last more than 3 days in the fridge. So, you might want to adjust the ingredients to make only the amount you know you will consume within that period of time.

After you make this great recipe, use it immediately with your favorite dish. Then transfer the leftovers in a jar and store them in the refrigerator.

More Italian Recipes

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Pesto rosso alla trapanese recipe.

Pesto Rosso Alla Trapanese

6 servings
This pesto rosso is creamy and full of Sicilian traditional flavors. Perfecto to serve with pasta or spread on crusty bread or pizza!
prep 10 minutes
resting time 20 minutes
total 30 minutes

Ingredients 

  • 1 lb fresh tomatoes
  • ½ cup ricotta cheese
  • cup sicilian pecorino cheese (or parmigiano)
  • cup fresh basil leaves
  • cup extra virgin olive oil
  • cup pine nuts
  • 1 garlic clove (peeled)
  • salt and pepper (to taste)

Instructions
 

  • Cut tomatoes in halves, remove the core, and discard the seeds.
  • Place them to drain on a colander for about 20 minutes.
  • In a food processor place the tomatoes, basil, pecorino, pine nuts, and the garlic clove.
  • Add salt and pepper, then pour in the olive oil.
  • Pulse until the ingredients are finely chopped or until you reach the desired consistency.
  • Place the mixture in a medium bowl.
  • Add ricotta and season with salt and pepper. Mix until everything is combined.
  • Transfer to a large jar and pour some olive oil on top.
  • Use as a condiment for pasta or spread for crusty bread, pizza, or sandwiches.

Notes

  • If you have a small food processor you can work in batches adding small amounts of the ingredients each time.
  • Do you want your pesto to have a little more color? Add one teaspoon of tomato paste.
  • The recipe yields 6 servings of pesto to use with pasta. Each serving of pasta is about 60-80 gr uncooked  (2.1 or 2.8 oz).
Nutrition Information
Serving: 1 serving | Calories: 250kcal | Carbohydrates: 5g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 23g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 12g | Cholesterol: 22mg | Sodium: 155mg | Potassium: 257mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 769IU | Vitamin C: 11mg | Calcium: 170mg | Iron: 1mg
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Recipe Rating




11 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Amazing recipe, is indeed quick and so easy to make. I used the rosso pesto with my gluten-free pasta and it was delicious!

  2. 5 stars
    I know is a silly question to ask, can leave out the ricotta cheese as my tummy lately can’t much creamy elements in

  3. 5 stars
    It was a very easy-to-follow recipe, thanks so much for all information and tips you added to the recipe, it was very helpful. I served with some warm pita and it was a success!
    Next time ill try with peanuts :)

  4. 5 stars
    I am a regular visitor of your website . I can enrich my cooking skill by seeing your blog .the procedure of sicilian tomato pesto was amazing .