Right off the bat it seems less than authentic without the pine nuts (or whatever nut you use in your pesto). But what if you love pesto like I love pesto and what if you have all the fresh basil in the world at your disposal like I do (perhaps a mild exaggeration, but the basil from my herb vendor at the market here in France is exceptional and plentiful!)? And what if you are allergic to tree nuts like I am?!
You find a way and you make a nut-free pesto that will rival any traditional version.
If you’re a purist, you will want to make this with a mortar and pestle, which is the “right” way. But I have no desire to take the time to grind the basil leaves into the other ingredients. That is time I could spend doing more productive things, like eating this pesto on a crusty gluten-free baguette and sipping wine. :) My food processor does the trick in no time flat.
Either way you make it, you’ll love it on whatever it goes on or in. Try the crusty baguette idea, but also venture out into other uses like this refreshing summer salad.
Nut-Free Basil Pesto
- 2 T. toasted sunflower seeds (see how to toast them here)
- 1 1/2 ounces Parmesan cheese, cut into small cubes (don’t use the pre-grated type)
- 1 large garlic clove (or 2 small), peeled and halved
- Juice from 1/4 small lemon (a lemon wedge)
- 2 generous bunches of fresh basil (about 4 cups of leaves, gently packed)
- 1/3 c. good quality olive oil
- Pinch of black pepper
- Add sunflower seeds, Parmesan, garlic and lemon juice to your food processor and pulse to break down the ingredients until they are becoming gritty/smooth in appearance. (You will need to scrape down sides of your processor bowl a few times.)
- Add basil, pulse to incorporate, then (with the processor lid in place and the pour chute opened), drizzle in the olive oil a little at a time, pulsing in between additions. Don’t run the processor continuously, or your pesto will be too blended. You want a bit of rustic body to it.
- Once the oil is incorporated, pour pesto into a bowl and add pepper, stir and serve.