I love this summer sunflower seed pesto! When I was a kid there was always a bowl of pesto pasta in the refrigerator during the summer. It was my mom’s go-to when she didn’t want to turn on the oven and depending on the night, she’d make the pesto extra lemony, garlicky or my favorite–extra cheesy.
The basil came from our garden and I remember squealing with delight when I’d hear the food processor buzzing across the house. It meant time for summer pesto!
My sunflower seed version is what I like to call a “poor woman’s” pesto because sunflower seeds are cheap and abundant. Pine nuts on the other hand, are not.
It’s a super versatile pesto and I’ve found that if you’re not a dairy eater, you can leave out the cheese and add nutritional yeast for that umami bite.
I also think that pesto is best made with tons (and tons) of fresh basil. And a sage word of advice, if you think it’s too much basil–it’s not. The stuff goes fast so make sure you have double what you think you need. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve made pesto and had to go back to the market to pick up another bunch.
And yes, this pesto is great on pasta but I like eating it slathered on toast or putting a spoonful into scrambled into eggs for breakfast. And if you can’t figure out what to do with all of it, you can store it in the freezer forever. (I like defrosting it in the middle of winter, mixing it with angel hair pasta and eating it slowly while imagining I’m sitting in someone’s summer garden.) Whatever way you choose to have it I hope that you thoroughly enjoy it–happy summer!
Sunflower Seed Basil Pesto
1 big bunch of basil (probably around 4 cups)
4 cloves of garlic
1/2 cup of grated Pecorino Romano
1/2 cup toasted unsalted sunflower seeds (toast them in a pan for 3-5 minutes until golden, stirring consistently)
1/2 cup olive oil
Salt to taste
Add all ingredients to your food processor except for the olive oil. Turn on the processor and stream in the oil until it all comes together. salt to taste.