Roasted red peppers and pesto pinwheels are the perfect bite-size appetizer for your upcoming family gathering, dinner party, picnic or game day. The sweet roasted red peppers, peppery arugula and rich herbal basil pesto wrapped in a flour tortilla create the ultimate flavor combination for an elegant party snack. Perfect to prepare in advance and refrigerate until your guests are ready to enjoy.

pinwheels sandwiches with pesto and roasted red peppers on a plate sprinkled with spring onions

Easy tortilla roll ups

Tortilla roll ups or Mexican tortilla pinwheel sandwiches are very versatile and easy to make bite-sized snacks. The variation to make these pinwheels is endless as you have the option to mix and match many different flavors and ingredients. Their simplicity, deliciousness, and attractive presentation make them an excellent addition to any buffet or tapas table. Combine with other pinwheel recipes, like with these ham and cheese pinwheels to make a rainbow of flavors and color.

For this recipe I have chosen to make use of store-bought ingredients. The idea was to create an option to make a fast, yet elegant looking and tasty appetizer. You can make everything from scratch, using home made flour tortillas, roasting the red peppers yourself and home made basil pesto. This recipe is the fast lane.

Which ingredients to use

ingredients for making tortilla pinwheels roasted peppers, flour tortilla, pesto, spring onion and arugula
  • Flour tortillas: Opt for large flour tortillas when making this recipe. Tortillas measuring 8-10 inches (or 20-25cm) are more manageable for filling and rolling compared to smaller ones. Using a good quality and thicker tortilla will prevent sogginess, especially if preparing the dish in advance.
  • Pesto: I have opted for standard store-bought basil pesto with pine nuts. Use a good quality pesto preferably bought at a specialty store using high quality ingredients.
  • Roasted red peppers: Use whole roasted red peppers from a jar or a can. These peppers have a lovely smoky sweet taste. Rather use whole peppers instead of the already sliced ones as they are firmer and have more bite to them.
  • Arugula: A handful of arugula or rocket lettuce leaves for a tangy and peppery taste to balance with the sweet peppers and herbal garlicky pesto flavor.
  • Spring onion: Adds freshness and crunch.
  • Seasoning: Salt and pepper is all you need.
grey plate with roasted red peppers pesto tortilla pinwheels with spring onions

Ingredient variations and substitutions

  • Tortillas: Use various types of tortillas, like whole-grain or corn. Or use colorful tortillas made with spinach or beetroot.
  • Pesto: I have used the traditional basil pine nut pesto with parmezan cheese and garlic. There are various types of pesto you can buy or make yourself like this chestnut pesto with arugula. Use any pesto you like or have at hand.
  • Arugula: Any type of lettuce or baby spinach works fine in this pinwheel recipe.
  • Add protein: Add thin sliced deli-ham, Italian prosciutto, roast beef, chicken or turkey for extra protein and variation.

How to make pesto roll ups

As I use store-bought ingredients, this recipe comes together in no time. Just gather the ingredients, chop, layer, roll, cut and serve. This is as easy as it gets.

6 step by step instructions to make pesto roasted pepper tortilla pinwheels
  • Roasted red peppers: Carefully take the peppers from the jar or can, place in a strainer and leave to drain. After draining the water, pat dry with kitchen towel. If they are still too wet the tortilla will become soggy. Remove the seeds if there are any and cut in thin slices.
  • Spread the pesto: Spread a thin layer of pesto over the whole tortilla. Don’t spread too thin or you won’t taste it, but also not too thick as it will ooze out of the edges. This is a problem if your guests are not eating over a serviette or plate.
  • Layer the red peppers: Place the sliced roasted red peppers over one half of the tortilla. The reason not to layer the whole tortilla is it will be difficult to roll.
  • Add the arugula: Divide the arugula or rocket lettuce leaves over one half of the tortilla on top of the red peppers.
  • Roll the tortilla wraps: Roll the tortilla tightly and firm. Start by rolling the wrap at the side where the lettuce and red pepper slices are.
  • Wrap and refrigerate: This step is optional for when making ahead. Wrap the rolled tortilla firmly with plastic cling wrap, close the edges and place in the fridge for later use.
  • Cut and serve: Take the wraps out of the fridge just before serving. Undo and remove the plastic wrap and use a sharp knife to cut off a small portion on each end where there is no filling and discard it (or eat it yourself). Then slice the rest into 1-inch (or 2.5 cm) thick pieces. Or start by slicing immediately after rolling when serving immediately.
tortilla pinwheels sandwiches with pesto and roasted red peppers on a plate sprinkled with spring onions

Useful tips and tricks

Do I need to refrigerate the pinwheel sandwiches before using?

No, you don’t have to. With these ingredients the pinwheels can be served immediately and don’t necessarily require refrigeration. However, when making these pesto pinwheels in advance, wrap them in plastic and store in the fridge until ready to serve.


Can I make pinwheels with pesto and red peppers in advance?

Yes, you can make them in advance. After rolling, wrap in plastic cling wrap and store in the fridge for up to 1 day. I would not recommend to store for longer as they might get soggy which makes them less nice to eat.

How to store

Wrap them in plastic after rolling and refrigerate for up to 1 day. Keep in mind that if eating them the same day as when they are made they’ll taste that much more fresh. So you can prepare the rolls in the morning and use them in the evening.

Due to the ingredients used in this particular recipe I would not recommend to freeze these tortilla roll-ups.

pile of tortilla pinwheels with pesto and roasted red pepper on a plate with flowers

How to serve tortilla roll-ups

These pesto pinwheels with red peppers are a great appetizer to serve at a regular dinner party, baby shower, hens party, birthday party or any festive occasion like Thanksgiving, Christmas or New Year. They are also great just as a snack during game day, for a picnic or when going camping.

Serve them with other finger food appetizers like:

pile of tortilla pinwheels with pesto and roasted red pepper on a plate with flowers
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Roasted pepper pesto pinwheel sandwiches

Roasted red peppers and pesto pinwheels are the perfect bite-size appetizer for your upcoming family gathering, dinner party, picnic or game day. The sweet roasted red peppers, peppery arugula and rich herbal basil pesto wrapped in a flour tortilla create the ultimate flavor combination for an elegant party snack. Perfect to prepare in advance and refrigerate until your guests are ready to enjoy.
Prep Time10 minutes
Total Time10 minutes
Course: Appetizers
Cuisine: American
Servings: 4
Author: Sabine

Ingredients

  • 2 large flour tortillas
  • cup (75 grams) basil pesto
  • 5 ounces (150 grams)roasted red peppers jarred or canned
  • 1 cup (20 grams) arugula or rocket leaves
  • 2 spring onions finely sliced
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Drain the roasted red peppers properly, tap dry with kitchen towel, then finely slice in the desired thickness.
  • Spread the pesto over the tortilla, making sure the whole tortilla is evenly covered.
  • Place the slices of roasted red peppers covering only one half of the tortilla. On top of the roasted peppers, divide the arugula leaves (also over one half of the tortilla). Sprinkle some finely sliced spring onions over it.
  • Roll up the tortilla very tight, but carefully, starting with the side where the peppers and arugula are. Repeat for the other tortillas. Serve immediately and cut in slices or refrigerate for later use.
  • If you plan to serve it later, wrap in plastic and refrigerate.
  • To serve, undo the plastic, trim off both edges and slice each tortilla into about 1-inch thick pieces (2.5 cm).

Notes

  • Store: Make these pinwheels ahead and store in the fridge for up to 1 day. Wrap them in plastic before refrigerating. Freezing them is not a good idea.
  • Serve: These tortilla pinwheels can be served immediately, no need to refrigerate in advance, but you can store in the fridge for later use.
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