Pesto is one of the best homemade condiments to have in your fridge. (Beatific music plays in background)
The reason for this is it is packed with super healthy ingredients, carries the inherent health benefits of a hefty dose of herbs, and if you make it yourself it is free from preservative and chemicals agents.
The only problem is that traditionally pesto usually calls for a sizable quantity of pine nuts. (Sounds of record juddering to a halt)
Where I live, pine nuts are crazy expensive. So expensive that this fact deterred me from making pesto for a couple of YEARS. Notwithstanding a garden full of fresh basil just waiting to be made into pesto!
Until I discovered that one can replace the pine nuts with sunflower seeds! Sunflower seeds in this part of the world are one of the cheapest seeds/nuts. Besides this, they have a mild flavor, which is great for pesto making. Some people also substitute walnuts in for pine nuts. However walnuts have such a strong flavor (with quite a bit of bitterness) that this can overpower the pesto and throw out the flavor profile.
Basil is probably the most common herb used in pesto making, but you can branch out and use other herbs such as parsley, marjoram etc.
Olive oil is the next go to ingredient. While this can also be pricey depending on where you live (as in South Africa which happens to host a perfect biome for olive trees – which does not seem to count), I usually use it because it is just the loveliest thing ever. But if you want to use an alternative oil that is also fine.
Pesto is usually used on pasta and pizzas. But I like using it in stews and soups, salads, and even on bread. You can also whip it out for a great dip when laying out snacks.
- 5 cups fresh basil
- 2 1/2 cups sunflower seeds
- 2 cups olive oil
- 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
- 2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 9 medium sized garlic cloves
- Blend all ingredients together in a large bowl. I use my stick blender, but you can probably use a regular blender or food processor as well.
- Once the ingredients are of a consistency to form a loose paste, it is time to bottle. I usually bottle up one glass jar full, and then freeze the rest in plastic jars. This way it stays fresh until the glass jar is finished. When that happens, I simply decant!
If you do not want the surface of the pesto to discolor, keep it covered with thin layer of olive oil to help prevent this.