Pumpkin Seed Pesto

July 9, 2009



Basil is everywhere at the markets, and it smells so good. The thing to do is buy a large bunch and make a batch of pesto. Of course, the most classic way to use this sauce is to toss it with a lovely, ribbon-wide pasta – not part of our clean-eating, gluten-free plan. However, it is fantastic on many foods and it makes everything taste like mid-summer at the market. This recipe is blasphemous because I’ve left out the parmesan. While I’m a little sheepish about that, I’m also pretty sure that you won’t miss it. Much. I upped the flavour by using roasted pecans instead of the traditional pine nuts, and I also threw in raw pumpkin seeds, which are healthful and rich in iron.

Makes 1 cup

2 packed cups fresh basil leaves

2 cloves of fresh garlic

1/3 cup roasted pecans, or use pine nuts if you’re the classic sort

1/4 cup raw pumpkin seeds

2 tablespoons nutritional yeast, optional*

3/4 teaspoon sea salt

several twists of fresh black pepper

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 cup pumpkin seed oil, or use all olive oil, so that would be 1/2 cup olive oil, total

Haul out your food processor and stuff everything but the oil into the bowl. Pulse and process into a rough paste. Scrape down the bowl as necessary, and take a deep inhale while the lid is off – what a great smell – kind of floral, almost spicy, garlicky, mouth-watering. While the machine is running, stream in the olive oil and then the pumpkin seed oil. A thick, delicious paste will result. If you would like to add cheese, and I can’t say that I blame you, leave out the nutritional yeast and stir in 1/2 a cup of grated parmesan. Pesto will keep in a container in the fridge for about a week.

I realize you might be wondering what, exactly, are all the foods you can use pesto on? Here are a few suggestions. Last night we had it on fresh salmon, a good dollop on each filet, then grilled. SautĂ© some fresh green beans with pesto. Try it on almost any vegetable, use it as a dip. Throw spoonfuls on wilted greens. On chicken. Pasta, as mentioned. Try brown rice pasta if you’re wheat-free, it’s really good. See? Many foods, and many more.

* I thought the parmesan would be less-missed if I added nutritional yeast, it’s a bit nutty and cheesy tasting

PS – pesto freezes really well, so make a bigger batch and freeze in cute little containers. Then you’ll be able to pull some mid-summer market taste out of your freezer in November.


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