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Making homemade pesto is SO easy – I wish I did it more.

The beauty of a pesto (besides it’s vibrant green hue) is that there are numerous variations to try. A traditional italian pesto uses basil, pine nuts, garlic, parmesan and good olive oil. Try using different nuts, herbs and oils to add some variety. It’s simple:

greens + nuts + hard cheese + garlic + oil

arugula + walnuts + asiago + garlic + olive oil

cilantro + almonds + manchego + garlic + sesame oil

What kind of pesto can you conjure up?

This time, I passed on the cheese and it was just as awesome. Sunflower seeds are packed with heart healthy polyunsaturated fats and…they’re uber cheap. It’s a win-win.

I tossed this pesto with some orecchiette pasta, sautéed cherry tomatoes, onions and more garlic, and topped it with some scallion. I love me some orecchiette – the little caps serve as sauce pockets, drenching each bite with loads of flavor.

 

Sunflower Seed Pesto

Makes ~ 1 cup

1 cup basil leaves

1 cup spinach leaves

1/2 cup roasted, unsalted sunflower seeds

2 cloves garlic

1/2 cup sunflower oil

salt and peper to taste

squeeze of lime to preventing browning

Place first 4 ingredients in blender, vitamix or food processor and pulse until chopped. Slowly drizzle oil until you achieve desired consistency. Add salt, pepper and lime juice to taste. (I added a bit of water to get the mixture moving)

Per TBS: 85 calories, 9g fat, 1g saturated, 3g polyunsaturated, 4g monounsaturated, 1g carbohydrate, 1 g protein

Great source of vitamin E, vitamin K and manganese (a mineral required to fuel antioxidant activity in the body)

 

 

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