Cooking for One: Sun Dried Tomato Pesto


I’ve never been a huge fan of pesto, but I’ll admit to a teensy problem with room temperature cheese-flavored gunky, green sauce.  That probably means I’ve never had good pesto, but it can’t be helped at this point.  Tonight I was hard-pressed to get some dinner together for myself.  I haven’t been to the grocer (just way too much going on this weekend), but I had been to the farmers’ market.  I had some late season basil leftover from the week before that demanded to be used.  Lots of pasta in the pantry, garlic, some sun dried tomatoes, pine nuts.  Sure did sound like pesto.  I determined that I was going to make amazing pesto.   

Suffice it to say – it was awesome.  This is a completely vegan pesto.  It’s also a meal fully assembled in the time it takes to boil water and cook pasta.  I loved the gemelli pasta with it; it held the sauce beautifully.  The sauce was sweet, tangy, garlicky, tomatoey, herby – everything good about pasta sauce and then some.  Yummy.

I chose this recipe for this week’s Cooking for One.  Half of the pesto makes two servings of pasta – perfect for dinner one night, and some for lunch the next day.  The remaining pesto can be refrigerated or frozen to be used later.  I can tell you that I will be making these beautiful red pesto twirls to go with an arugula salad later this week.  It’s an easy recipe that will get a lot of kitchen mileage accomplished without a lot of work.  Hey, it can’t be risotto night every week.

Sun-dried Tomato Pesto

Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto


  • 1/2 lbs gemelli pasta, cooking according to package directions
  • 1 C sun dried tomatoes
  • a pinch of crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 C basil
  • 2 T parsley
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 C pine nuts
  • 1 T balsamic vinegar
  • 1 T tomato paste
  • 1/2 C extra virgin olive oil
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper


Set your pasta water to boil, then get on with preparing the rest of your ingredients.  Place your sun-dried tomatoes in a bowl.  When the pasta water boils, ladle enough water to cover the tomatoes into the bowl to reconstitute them.  Run a knife through the basil and parsley so that it is roughly chopped, and add them to the bowl of a food processor.  Sprinkle in the crushed red pepper.  Lightly crush the garlic cloves; chop them finely and add them to the processor.  Toast the pine nuts in a dry pan over high heat.  Add those to the processor, too.  Add the balsamic and tomato paste. Season with salt and pepper; go easy on the salt.   Finally, drain most of the water off the sun-dried tomatoes, and pour them along with the remaining liquid into the processor.  Clamp the lid on tightly then begin pulsing while slowly streaming the olive oil into the processor.  Pulse until the pesto is combined and finely chopped.  Continue pulsing or add more olive oil as needed to achieve the desired consistency.  Stir half the pesto into the drained pasta.  Mix well so that the pesto coats the pasta evenly.

Pesto makes about 1 1/2 – 2 cups.  It will dress a half pound of pasta easily, with plenty left over for another dish.

Pasta will make one generous dinner portion for one with enough for lunch the next day left.  

Serves 1.


10 thoughts on “Cooking for One: Sun Dried Tomato Pesto

  1. This sounds really nice. I’m a pesto lover no matter what kind. It has all the right flavors that make my tastebuds sing. I like these posts for more than just cooking for one. They’re great for people who are trying to keep an eye on servings quantities for health/weight loss purposes. This serves both: lots of flavor in not a lot of food. Nice job!

  2. sun-dried tomatoes can do no wrong in my eyes, and popping them into some pesto is brilliant. your dish looks more attractive and appetizing than most i’ve been served. 🙂

  3. Wait, OK. I’m reading backwards, I know. But I’d also like a big bowl of this, too. Gemelli is a great choice for this. The sauce really looks like it’s sticking to it. Yum.

    a.k.a. The Hungry Mouse

  4. Mmmmmm – looks fantastic! I am a pesto-in-any-form fan though… Still, yours sounds so deliciously fresh and simple! And having ben cookign for 2 for 8 weeks now, I am just getting used to it… and then hubby returns from his secondment next weekend. Still, it was fun while it lasted 😉

  5. @ grace – Oh, thank you! I love sun dried tomatoes, and this is such an easy way to use them. I’m glad you like it!

    @ Jessie – Gemelli is an awesome little shape, isn’t it? It holds pesto as well as penne rigate, but is more toothsome. Yum.

    @ Jeanne – It’s tough learning to cook for a different audience than usual, isn’t it? Often tricky to keep from taking the easy way out, but once you get into it, it’s fun. I’ve been rather more adventurous.

  6. Pingback: Love pesto? « Appoggiatura

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