Move away, pine nuts and walnuts! I’ve got pumpkin seeds! 🙂
Lame, eh? Well, my opening line might be, but this basil and pumpkin seed pesto surely isn’t.
I recently managed to get my hands on an uber-fresh bunch of basil, at about the same time as I managed to grab some roasted and salted pumpkin seeds from Ajfan, that store in Bangalore that I have come to love so much. So, this basil and pumpkin seed pesto was concocted, and it turned out absolutely, mind-blowingly brilliant. The pumpkin seeds make for a lovely substitute for pine nuts or walnuts or any other nuts that you might use in a pesto, and you just cannot make out the difference!
We have been having a grand time using this basil and pumpkin seed pesto in just about everything, from sandwiches and pizzas to dosas and adais (yes, you read that right!). I’ll be sharing the recipes for these soon, but for now, I leave you with the recipe for the pesto. Do try it out, folks!
Here’s how I made the basil and pumpkin seed pesto.
Ingredients (makes about 1-1/2 cup):
- 2 cups basil leaves (only the leaves, no stems)
- 2 cubes of cheese (I used Amul processed cheese)
- Pepper powder, to taste
- Salt, to taste
- 1/2 cup roasted and salted pumpkin seeds
- 1/2 cup olive oil
1. Wash the basil leaves well under running water, ensuring that no traces of mud remain. Pat dry, gently, with a cotton cloth.
2. Chop the cheese cubes into smaller squares.
3. Take the basil leaves, salt and pepper to taste, and the chopped cheese in a small mixer jar. Add a little of the olive oil. Mix well.
4. Pulse the mixer, just a couple of seconds. Now, scrape down the sides of the mixer, add a little more olive oil and mix well. Pulse again, a couple of seconds. Again, scrape down the sides, add more olive oil, mix and pulse. Repeat these steps till you get a smooth, fragrant paste.
5. Transfer the pesto to a dry, clean, air-tight bottle and use as needed. Keep refrigerated when not in use.
- My pesto turns out a little thick because I get a tad stingy with the olive oil. If you want a nice, flowy pesto, use more olive oil. That said, this pesto tastes beautiful even with 1/2 cup of olive oil.
- Ideally, Parmesan cheese should be used to make pesto. This cheese is dry and, hence, helps in obtaining a creamy pesto that does not clump together. I use Amul processed cheese instead, which causes the pesto to turn out slightly thick. However, the pesto still tastes beautiful.
- Use the best olive oil you can get your hands on, for best results.
- It is imperative to add the olive oil little by little, while grinding the pesto. This helps in obtaining better consistency of pesto. Do refrain from adding all the ingredients at one go and then grinding the pesto.
- Pumpkin seeds can be substituted with peanuts, walnuts, pine nuts, walnuts, cashewnuts or almonds. I decided to use pumpkin seeds because I wanted a less fattening version. I got the pumpkin seeds, roasted and salted and ready, from Ajfan. You can collect the seeds from pumpkins at home and roast and salt them yourself, if you want to.
- Instead of basil, coriander (or just about any green!) can be used to make the pesto.
- Substitute pickled jalapeno or chopped green chillies or paprika for black pepper powder, for a different taste experience.
- This pesto stays up to a week when refrigerated. Make sure you use only a clean, dry spoon, though.
- Use only the leaves of the basil. Make sure all the stems are removed. There is no need to chop them. Also, make sure you use very fresh basil, for best results.
- I prefer my pesto to be creamy and smooth. Keep it slightly chunky, if you want it that way.
- Be careful while adding in the salt, because the cheese and pumpkin seeds have salt in them already.
You like? I hope you will try out this basil and pumpkin seed pesto, and that you will love it as much as we did!