Every year I plant several basil plants in my little garden. I just love basil… It’s fragrant, versatile and tastes so amazingly fresh. I’m really happy because this has been a surprisingly good year for my basil. The bugs have left most of the plants alone and the weather has been just perfect for the rest of the plants in the garden. When I walked outside this morning, I noticed immediately that it was time to harvest some of those gorgeous green leaves.
Basil ready to be picked. I don’t know what I like better… The beautiful bright green leaves or the fresh herbaceous aroma.
Thyme. One of my favorite herbs… The tiny delicate leaves are packed with flavor.
Mammoth Dill. This is the first time I have tried growing dill in my garden. I just love the delicate little yellow flowers!
Basil blossoms. I pinch the blossoms off to encourage additional growth on my basil plants.
The main ingredients for my Sunflower Seed Basil Pesto.
My Sunflower Seed Basil Pesto is easy to make, nut free and delightfully vegan. I like to use my pesto on pasta, pizza and especially on a warm crusty baguette with fresh mozzarella and sliced heirloom tomatoes. Makes about 1 cup. Enjoy! Tessa
2 cups fresh basil leaves lightly packed
3 cloves garlic minced
1/2 cup sunflower seeds (roasted and shelled)
1/2 tsp salt or to taste
1/2 to 1 tsp lemon juice or to taste (to prevent browning of the pesto)
1/4 cup olive oil or more if necessary
Add all ingredients except olive oil to a food processor. Pulse food processor while adding a steady stream of olive oil. Scrap sides and pulse until well blended. Taste and correct your seasonings. Use immediately or store (covered) in refrigerator up to 24 hours. Makes about 1 cup.
I don’t know about you but I hate food allergies. I love to cook and try new foods but I always have to ask the question “Are there any nuts in that?” Unfortunately, I found out the hard way about ten years ago that I am allergic to tree nuts. You can only imagine my reaction to the bad news. I thought to myself really? You mean I got to carry around an EpiPen? Seriously? Tree nuts? For those who may not know exactly what tree nuts are they include nuts such as walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds, pine nuts, pistachios, macadamias, brazil nuts, and the list goes on. Fortunately, I can still eat peanuts (they don’t grow on trees, but, I still have to be careful!). Anyone who has a food allergy or has a friend or family member who has one knows exactly what I am talking about. You learn quickly that when you have a food allergy your scope of food choices just got severely limited.
Well, in the meantime, I ain’t dead yet and I have learned to adapt. For the past several years I have worked on creating some of my favorite recipes using pepitas as a nut substitute. Pepitas are little green pumpkin seeds that are similar to nuts in texture and crunch. I love to use them in my pesto. My Pepita Basil Pesto is a vibrant green basil pesto with olive oil, garlic, fresh shaved Parmesan cheese and crunchy little pepitas. Use it as you would use any pesto. Put it on crostini, toss it in some pasta, or spread it on a sandwich. Make this Pepita Basil Pesto and you will change your pesto making ways. Enjoy! Tessa
2 cups fresh basil leaves (packed)
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup shelled unsalted pepitas
3 garlic cloves
1/2 tsp lemon juice
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
Let’s begin by washing the fresh basil leaves, removing stems and flower buds. Lightly pack into 2 cups. Add the olive oil, pepitas, garlic, lemon juice and salt to food processor. Blend until it is a thick paste, scraping sides of processor with a spatula. Add basil leaves and parmesan cheese. Blend until basil is well incorporated. Keeps about 3-4 days in the refrigerator. Can be frozen. Makes about one cup.