I love pesto and have made a lot of different variations over the years. I wanted to share my favorite combination of ingredients I’ve settled on the last few years in case it brings some inspiration to your pesto making too. Ideally, I would have shared this during basil season (it’s November now, our basil has been done for awhile), but you know… life is busy! Throughout the summer and fall I turn all the basil in our garden into pesto, and I also buy more basil from a local farm. I fill small jars with pesto (with headspace at the top) and put them in the freezer to enjoy throughout the year. It’s such a treat in the middle of winter!
Pine nuts are a traditional addition to pesto, but they are expensive. Hazelnuts are great, and many other types of nuts, but I discovered my favorite seed choice for pesto- sunflower seeds. I love the way the pesto turns out and it also makes for an affordable pesto, which is great if you are wanting to make lots of pesto at once like I do. One thing to be mindful of with sunflower seeds is that once they are out of the shell they can go rancid quickly. I’ve been really pleased with the freshness of the organic sprouted sunflower seeds from Go Raw, and after I open a bag I keep them in the fridge. (I pick up a bag of those from time to time at the grocery store, but I just saw on their website that if you order from them online you have to order six bags at one time.) We also love their pumpkin seeds, they are the most delicious I’ve ever tasted.
One more note on ingredients… our family has used both sea salt and Himalayan crystal salt over the years, but sadly several friends have told me about large amounts of microplastics showing up in sea salt tested all over the world. Have any of you heard about that? Now we stick with Himalayan Salt, which has the benefit of being full of minerals. Our favorite source is SaltWorks. (I’m not an affiliate with Go Raw or SaltWorks, I simply love their products so felt like sharing them here.)
I hesitate to call this a recipe, it’s more of a starting off point because each batch is different and you need to add a little more of this or a little more of that until the taste is to your liking. This is just a general guideline I’ve written for myself on a recipe card to begin the process each time. Sometimes I’m craving garlic and add extra, or I want more lemon, or I don’t have as much basil so adjust the recipe accordingly.
Pesto with Sunflower Seeds
3 cups basil leaves (packed)
1/4 cup olive oil
3/4 cup sunflower seeds
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/4 – 1/2 tsp. salt
4 cloves garlic
I blend all the ingredients up in our food processor and then keep tasting and adding until pleased with the results. I wrote down that the recipe above filled two half pint mason jars. I hope you’ll enjoy this combination!
and Happy Pesto Making!