Pesto is an incredibly versatile sauce that can be enjoyed in countless ways. In addition to mixing it into pasta, noodles, rice and spiralized vegetables, you can use it as a dip for crackers and crudités, a topping for toast, pizza, salad, and baked potatoes, or a flavour booster for proteins. Homemade sunflower seed pesto is super easy to make and you can have fun playing around with different nuts/seeds, greens, herbs, and “add-ins. It's nut-free so everyone can enjoy it!
Pumpkin Seed Pesto [Vegan]
- 1/2 cup raw unsalted pumpkin seeds (sunflower seeds also work well here!)
- 3 cups raw baby spinach
- 1 cup packed fresh cilantro (or substitute basil if preferred)
- juice from 1/2 to 1 lemon, adjusted to taste
- 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon pink Himalayan salt, adjusted to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus additional as needed for desired consistency
- Preheat oven to 350°F and spread pumpkin seeds on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for 4 to 5 minutes until just browned. Set aside to cool.
- To a food processor or blender container, add cooled nuts, spinach, cilantro, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, garlic, 1/4 teaspoon salt, cayenne, and pepper. Blend well.
- With processor/blender running, slowly drizzle in 1/3 cup oil and process until well combined, stopping to scrape the bottom and sides with a spatula as needed.
- Add additional seasoning, lemon juice, or olive oil as needed for desired taste and consistency.
Nut-free Pumpkin Seed Pesto can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for a week or frozen for several months. You can freeze it using an ice cube tray so that it’s easy to thaw in single-serving portions.