Friday, July 27, 2012

Basil Sunflower Seed Pesto


It's safe to say my CSA is in full swing.  It currently requires a large basket, two reusable bags, and four hands on pickup day.  When I get home from the farm, I wash, prep, and organize the week's allotment of vegetables and fruit.  I fill my sink with water and swish around greens, onions, and leeks.  Potatoes get scrubbed with a scrub brush.  Radishes are sliced.  Green beans are trimmed.  It's become my Saturday morning routine.  It feels good getting my hands a little dirty and engaging with all this beautiful food.  I feel fortunate to have access to local, just picked, seasonal food.  Because I appreciate what's involved in harvesting it, nothing gets discarded and nothing is wasted.  The tops of beets are saved and will later be wilted down with garlic.  Onion and leek tops are placed in freezer bags for homemade vegetable stock, and small carrot trimmings make a great snack for Yager.  I have a plan, a system.  If I didn't, I would easily become overwhelmed at the mountain of vegetables starring at me from the counter.  Some items demand my attention more than others.  




Basil is one such item.  Basil will start to misbehave on you if you're not careful.  Its leaves become tainted with dark spots if it's ignored for too long.  I acted fast and made a basic pesto, much like I do every summer.  Making pesto is one of my favorite summer pastimes.  It fills the kitchen with a garlicky garden aroma.  I grew up on pesto made from basil in my mother's garden.  We'd make big batches during July and August and freeze the extras in small containers.  It's nice to have a taste of summer on hand a few months down the road when the leaves start falling.  


I may have mentioned this before, but I often use nuts or seeds beyond pine nuts for pesto making purposes.  I've found sunflower seeds to be a great alternative for pine nuts and they're a fraction of the price.  Aside from my seed choice, it's a traditional recipe of olive oil, Parmesan cheese, salt, and garlic.  I used the pesto throughout the week on pasta, in sandwiches, and eggs.  I hope you're getting your hands on some basil and enjoying the bounty of the season.  


~Basil Sunflower Seed Pesto Recipe~

2 1/2 cups packed basil leaves, washed and dried
1 large clove of garlic
3 tbsp raw sunflower seeds
pinch of salt
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup Parmesan or Parmigiano-Reggiano

In a food processor, pulse garlic, salt, and sunflower seeds until combined.  Add in basil leaves and stream in olive oil.  Add in the cheese until incorporated.   Made enough to fill a 7.5oz jar to the brim.

14 comments:

Abby said...

oh my goodness I'm completely jealous of your amazing CSA haul! Sunflower seeds in pesto is a wonderful idea, can't wait to try it.

Stephanie said...

Hey Abby-I'm getting so much lately! I just had to take a picture of it all this past week. Glad you're going to give the pesto a try.

Sue/the view from great island said...

Such a creative idea, Stephanie---I love how you think!

Amy said...

I made a little batch of basil pesto a few days ago, and it's already gone. Pesto is so good on everything! I've never tried making it with sunflower seeds though... I'm curious to try it. And my wallet is too. ;) And I loved that opening paragraph where you talk about dealing with your large CSA haul. Reminded me very much of a Tamar Adler "how to stride forward" type of thing.

NourishedLiving said...

I also love making pesto - I've never made it with sunflower seeds though - I will plan to make this while I can still get yummy basil from our farmer's market.

P.S. I totally agree with your philosophy of not wasting anything. Sometimes the parts people throw away are my favorite parts (broccoli and cauliflower stems - yummmy!!)

Stephanie said...

Thanks Sue. Amy, I'm flattered ;) I must have been channeling her on some level. Have you read An Everlasting Meal? Great read.

Eileen said...

How have I only made pesto once so far this summer? Must get on that immediately. I love the idea of using sunflower seeds--the pine nuts at my grocery store are $24.99/lb! NO WAY.

Barbara The Healthy Nut said...

What a great idea! I've used walnuts and almonds. Never thought of sunflower seeds.

Margarita said...

Oh my goodness Stephanie all that bounty is making me so jealous! Love that you have a system. I don't have a CSA membership because I know myself too well. Always discontent when it comes to produce and always wanting more. So I go to the market every week and although we manage to never waste, my veggies get very sad looking by mid week.

This basil pesto With sunflower seeds is new to me... I always used pine nuts. Time for a change!

Stephanie said...

Eileen, that's hard to justify, isn't it? Thanks Barbara-I've done walnuts and almonds too. That's the great thing about pesto-it's very adaptable. Margarita-I know what you mean. That's why I try to get cooking earlier in the week.

Rhiannon said...

What a great idea sunflower seeds! I love it. It would be delicious and allergen friendly.

kyleen said...

Wow that mountain of vegetables is huge! Mhmm this pesto looks delicious! I really wish I weren't allergic to sunflower seeds.

Stephanie said...

Kyleen-if you're not allergic, substitute something else, any nut will do.

Colleen @ Culinary Colleen said...

I love experimenting with pestos like this in the summer. I'll have to try sunflower seeds next time!