I got the base recipe for this pesto in a package of goodies from a favorite local farm, The Mason Jar Farm (which is in Enumclaw, Washington). Easy enough to change the pine nuts to sunflower seeds – and I prefer it with the faintly sweet sunflower, rather than the more astringent flavor of pine nuts.
Sunflower Pesto Sauce
- 4-5 cups packed fresh basil leaves
- 1-2 cloves fresh garlic, peeled
- ¼ cup raw sunflower seeds
- 2/3 cup high quality extra virgin olive oil
- ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- Ground black pepper
- Fine sea salt
Add basil, garlic and sunflower seeds in a food processor, pulse until finely chopped. Add in ½ cup of the olive oil, processing until smooth. Liberally season with black pepper, add in the cheese, pulse to mix in.
If you will be using the sauce immediately, pulse in the remaining olive oil and season with salt to taste, if needed. Otherwise, transfer sauce to a glass storage container and pour the oil over the top (it will keep it from darkening). At this point you can store the pesto in the refrigerator for a day or two, or freeze it for longer storage. Stir in the oil on top before using.
Makes about 1 cup sauce.
PS: Purple Basil flowers are also simply gorgeous, they are very tiny (the stem here is the size of my pinky finger).
To make pasta, cook pasta in salted water, reserve a bit of cooking water, drain pasta and toss with pesto, adding reserved pasta water as needed to smooth the sauce out. One batch of sauce will coat 16 ounces pasta (and for a fun take on dinner, I added in 3 fresh gold potatoes, which I cooked with the pasta).