If you’ve got fresh basil growing like crazy in your yard as I do, I think it’s probably time to make some pumpkin seed pesto. I started using pumpkin seeds for pesto a few years ago, and I’ve never looked back. I don’t use pine nuts because, though they are technically a seed, we don’t like to play “let’s see what happens!” with Ella’s tree nut allergy. Now I’m not sure why I’d use pine nuts, regardless of the allergy, because I really can’t tell the difference, and they are way more expensive than pumpkin seeds. Don’t get me wrong, I love the rich nutty flavor of pine nuts, but I’d rather have them toasted and tossed in pasta or a salad on their own.
Pesto will keep in the refrigerator for several days, and it also freezes well. The ways in which you can use it are endless, but here are a few of my ideas. Let me know some of yours in the comments!
~ Pasta with Pesto: (As pictured at the top of the post.) All I do is mix one part pesto with 3 parts sour cream and toss it in prepared pasta. I used linguini, but any pasta will do. Top it will a little grated Parmigiano Reggiano and serve it with your favorite protein/veggies.
~ Salad dressing: Thin it out with some additional lemon juice (or red/white wine vinegar) and olive oil and serve with fresh lettuce, veggies, or use in a pasta salad.
~ Sandwich spread: Use on its own or combine it with cream cheese or mayo to make your veggie, turkey, or chicken sandwich next-level delicious.
~ Dip: Mix with some Greek Yogurt or sour cream to make a dip for crudites and crostini.
~ Pizza: Spread on homemade pizza. Especially great with fresh mozzarella and tomato for a Caprese-style pie.
Pumpkin Seed Pesto
(makes about 1 1/2 cups)
2 cups basil leaves, packed
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
2 cloves garlic, peeled
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper
a small pinch of red pepper flakes
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
You can lightly toast the pumpkin seeds if you like; it will deepen the flavor a bit, or leave them raw, as I did, and still have a very flavorful pesto.
Wash and dry the basil leaves. A flour sack towel works well for drying produce.
Place pumpkin seeds, basil, garlic, lemon juice, salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes in the bowl of a food processor or high-speed blender (like a Vitamix). Pulse or blend until they are mostly combined.
Blend the olive oil in until the pesto is smooth, then stir in the parmesan cheese (don’t over-blend the cheese).
Use the pesto for sandwiches, dips, pasta, salad dressings, etc.
I spent time with some of the most beautiful women I know last evening. Our book club has been together for a decade now, and the friendships we have formed are invaluable. We had many stories to share. Some hilarious, some heart-wrenching, all authentic and raw. I am ever so grateful for friends who can cry together one moment, laugh the next, and always cheer one another on.
Beauty is not found in uniformity, nor value in conformity. It is in our colors and quirks and flaws and scars that true beauty and value unfold, because that is where our stories are told. L. R. Knost