Sunflower Seed Parsley Pesto
I’ll be up-front here. I’m not a big fan of pine nuts. The oil in the nuts always taste a bit old and funky to me. So perhaps I should clarify my comment. I’m not a big fan of pine nuts that have been harvested and then bagged up and then have sat on a supermarket shelf for goodness knows how long. I’m kinda guessing that like linseeds (flax seeds) pine nuts are sensitive to heat and therefore turn rancid quite easily and quickly, especially if they’re stored for a long period of time at variable temperatures.
The big positive here is that you don’t have to make pesto with pine nuts. You can, in fact, use any sort of nut – walnuts, cashews, macadamias, etc. And all of them lovely. I, however, am not great with nuts. Things are not always right with my tum when I eat them. I appreciate all the health benefits of nuts, but unfortunately my gut doesn’t see it that way.
So bring in the happy alternatives – seeds!! Pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds all make scrumptious pesto, especially if they’re freshly roasted just before you use them. Not as heavy as nuts, but just a scrumptious; seeds are not the poor cousin to nuts, but rather the better looking twin!
Nor does all pesto always have to contain cheese. With a good sprinkle of salt, a little extra garlic, lemon zest and a squeeze of lemon juice (or a sprinkle of nutritional yeast), a dairy free pesto is often lighter and more refreshing that traditional cheese based pesto. Plus it can be used as a spread on bread or mixed through a salad to add a little variety.
A range of herbs work well, but I particularly like parsley because of its healthy benefits. Good for bladder health, helps with digestion and makes your breath all fresh. What’s not to like?!! Plus, its usually readily available all year round, is a bit cheaper than other herbs and easy to grow in the garden.
100g sunflower seeds (lightly roasted until browned and poppy in a large frypan or in the oven)
Bunch of parsley (flat leaf is good, but curly works just as well. Other herbs are also yummy – singularly or in combination – mint, thyme, basil, coriander)
2 cloves of garlic
4 – 5 Tbsp EVOO
Good quality salt to taste
Zest of half lemon
Juice of ½ lemon
40g parmesan cheese OR 2 Tbsp nutritional yeast – OPTIONAL
Put the sunflower seeds, garlic and parsley in to food processing device and blitz, blitz, blitz until the seeds and parsley and ground into a semi-fine meal.
Add EVOO, salt and lemon zest and juice and blitz to combine. If the mixture is a bit dry, add more EVOO or lemon juice and blitz again.
Scrap out and put into a bowl.
If you’re adding cheese either add finely grated parmesan cheese, or throw the cheese into the processor and blitz to fine, then add to pesto mix well.
And hey presto – PESTO! 🙂
Set aside and cook some pasta to al dente.
Once drained stir through as much pesto to the pasta as suits your taste.
Remaining pesto can be stored in the fridge. Best used within 10 days.