Sun-dried tomato pasta

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This scrumptious sun-dried tomato pasta combines creamy ricotta, intensely-flavored sun-dried tomatoes and fresh basil to make an easy delicious family meal.

It’s also very quick to whip up, and ready in less than 15 minutes!

I love sharing recipes that bring you to the table homemade meatless meals saving you time and money. This sun-dried tomato pasta is no exception.

My mum used to make this easy pasta recipe by whizzing up fresh ricotta, basil, and convenient sun-dried tomatoes from the jar. That was her creative take on the classic “red pesto” (known as “pesto rosso”). .

And it was so simple, yet rich, fresh… and absolutely delicious!

She also used a small amount of extra virgin olive oil just to combine all the ingredients. But not much, since the pasta and the sun-dried tomato pesto are tossed in the pot along with the starchy pasta-cooking water. 

This step is a must and works like magic!

The result was a bowl of sun-dried tomato pasta rich but not oily, packed with flavor, and super delicious!

List of the ingredients

  • Sun dried tomatoes
  • Whole-milk ricotta
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Garlic
  • Fresh basil
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt & pepper

How to make it

(Note: this is a quick description with step-by-step photos, the full recipe is at the bottom of the page)

  • Cook the pasta until al dente.
  • Meanwhile, place the rest of the ingredients in a food processor.
  • Blend until you get a pesto-like consistency (not too smooth).
  • Drain the pasta and reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking water.
  • Return the pasta to the pot, stir in the tomato pesto and the water.
  • Toss well to combine and serve with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Recipe notes

Sun dried tomato pasta ingredients

Before we get to the recipe below, here are a few notes about the ingredients:

Pasta: I’ve used bucatini pasta, which is basically a thicker version of spaghetti. But you can use any short, large or long pasta shapes that work well to capture the pesto sauce, or you can make your homemade cavatelli pasta that goes so well with pesto.

Sun-dried tomatoes: I love their umami flavor, and they’re rich in many nutrients too. I prefer the sun dried tomatoes that are marinated in olive oil in a jar, rather than the dried ones without oil.

Basil: fresh basil leaves are a must.

Ricotta: the fresh Italian ricotta takes this pasta dish to the next level (my mum was right!). Use good quality ricotta with a soft creamy texture, either over the counter from the deli or from the refrigerator section.

Extra virgin olive oil: use good-quality extra virgin olive oil, definitely the best for flavor and nutrition.

Parmesan: it adds its rich, savory flavor.

Garlic: for its aromatic flavor. But go easy on garlic, it might overpower the other ingredients.


Can you swap cream cheese for ricotta? Yes, I did it a few times and it worked fine (but I didn’t tell my mum, of course!). Also, you can skip basil if you don’t have this delicious fresh herb on hand.

Plus, if you have leftover sun-dried tomatoes, you might use it in this simple lettuce salad or in this chickpea bruschetta.

How to use sun dried tomato pesto?

This simple nut-free red pesto is a super versatile recipe that goes just with about everything, which means you can enjoy it not only with pasta dishes, but also spread on sandwiches or crunchy bruschetta, served with roasted vegetables, stirred into risotto or chicken stews.

Plus, if you choose short shape pasta like penne or fusilli, you can make a delicious sun dried tomato pasta salad perfect for a picnic or a potluck.

How long does sun dried tomato pesto last?

Any leftover pesto can be stored in a jar can be refrigerated for up to 3 days. However, since this red pesto recipe calls for fresh ricotta cheese, it doesn’t last more than 3 days.

Recipe updated: originally posted in January 2020, I’ve added more notes and new pictures to the post.

If you love pesto…

We live for pasta and pesto in our house, check out some of our fav like spinach pesto pasta, indulgent creamy pesto pasta or arugula pesto pasta!

More quick pasta recipes?

Here a few of my popular pasta recipes, delicious and quick to make:

If you try this sun dried tomato pasta, let me know! Leave a comment, rate it or tag a photo #theclevermeal on Instagram.

I would love to hear from you!

Top view of a white plate full of sun dried tomato pasta.
Print Recipe
4.89 from 9 votes

Sun dried tomato pasta

This scrumptious creamy sundried tomato pasta with pesto is ready in minutes, and it tastes and smells AMAZING!
Prep Time5 minutes
Cook Time10 minutes
Total Time15 minutes
Course: pasta
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: Sun dried tomato pasta
Servings: 4
Calories: 409kcal
Author: Katia


  • ½ cup (100 grams) jarred sun dried tomatoes, packed in oil
  • ½ cup (120 grams) whole-milk ricotta
  • ½cup (10 grams) basil leaves
  • ¼ cup (30 grams) parmesan cheese, freshly grated (optional)
  • 3 Tablespoons (45 ml) extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, sliced
  • salt & pepper, to taste


  • 1/2 lb (225 grams) Pasta, any type (spaghetti, fusilli, penne…)
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) pasta water, reserved to thin out the pesto
  • freshly grated parmesan cheese, to serve (optional)
  • freshly ground black pepper, to serve (optional)


Sun-dried tomatoes

  • Add sun-dried tomatoes, ricotta, olive oil, basil, garlic, and parmesan cheese, ¼ tsp scant of fine salt to a food processor and blend for a few seconds. You want a pesto-like consistency (coarse rather than a puree). Set aside until pasta is done.


  • Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salty water according to the package directions.
  • Drain the pasta when it's still al dente, but remember to reserve ½ cup of the pasta cooking water.
  • Return the pasta to the pot along with the pesto and a touch of the pasta water. Toss over medium heat until everything is well combined, adding the rest of the pasta water as much as needed to make the pasta moist.
  • Serve immediately with freshly ground black pepper and grated parmesan and a drizzle of extra virgn olive oil if desired.


Sun dried tomatoes: I prefer oil-packed sun dried tomatoes for this recipe, they’re soft and I use them straight from the jar. I used to buy them from TJ’s when I lived in the States.
Olive oil: feel free to use the flavorful sun dried tomato olive oil from the jar, just make sure the flavorings will work in the recipe (garlic and herbs are fine).
Substitutions: you can swap cream cheese for ricotta and dry sun dried
tomatoes (the ones without oil) for the jarred sun dried tomatoes.
How to use “dry” sun dried tomatoes? These ones don’t have as much moisture as the oil-packed counterpart, so you have to hydrate them in water first to plump them up. Just let them soak in warm water for thirty minutes until soft, then drain and pat dry.
Nutrition facts: the nutrition values are  for one serving and are based on an online nutrition calculator.  It’s an estimate only and it should not be considered as a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice. Please see my disclosure policies. 


Calories: 409kcal | Carbohydrates: 50g | Protein: 14g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 9g | Cholesterol: 22mg | Sodium: 227mg | Potassium: 572mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 652IU | Vitamin C: 26mg | Calcium: 158mg | Iron: 2mg


  1. Do you add the oil from the sun dried tomatoes AND the olive oil, or strain the tomatoes out? Thanks

    1. Hey Kam! The recipes says 3 Tbsps extra virgin olive oil, OR the oil from the sun dried tomatoes if you wish (I mean the marinade you find in the jar, after you strain the tomatoes out). Not both olive oil + marinade.
      Let me know if it’s still confusing. x

  2. 4 stars
    Great stuff, and pairs well with a variety of proteins! It’s entered the rotation for whenever I have the energy to clean the food processor, lol.

    1. That’s great, I’m pleased you enjoyed it! : )
      Thanks for sharing your feedback. x

  3. 5 stars
    Delicious recipe! Thank you for sharing 🙂 I added some rotisserie chicken to mine!

    1. Great, I’m very happy to hear it was delicious! : )

  4. 5 stars
    Made it yesterday. Followed recipe to the letter. Very delicious and easy to make. Tx

  5. Christian says:

    5 stars
    This was amazing, and will certainly go into my pasta rotation. Added lump crab to the sauce(pesto) after prepared. Thank you!

    1. That’s brilliant, thanks so much for sharing, Christian! x

  6. 5 stars
    Very good. I made it with homemade egg fettuccini using “00” flour and semolina flour. It was a wonderful dish. Had homemade sourdough focaccia on the side. Thanks for the recipe.

    1. What a lovely meal, it sounds delicious! I’m so pleased, thank you for sharing, it’s very appreciated.
      Cheers x

  7. 5 stars
    So delicious, and so quick and easy! My family gobbled it up. Thank you for solving my “what’s for dinner?” dilemma tonight!

    1. Brilliant, you’ve made my day, Janet : )
      I’m so happy the whole family loved it, thanks for sharing your lovely feedback! x

  8. 5 stars
    delicious! Thank you for the recipe!

    1. I’m so pleased you liked it, thanks for your feedback, Rachel. : )
      Have a lovely weekend. x

  9. 5 stars
    Really really tasty! The Family vote was a resounding ‘yes!’ to making it again in a couple of days time when I asked about using the remaining ricotta

    1. Fantastic! I’m so please the whole family liked it 😊 Thanks so much for your comment x

  10. 5 stars
    Delicious and easy, thanks for the recipe”

    1. I’m glad you liked it! Thank you for your rating, Angela 🙂

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