I love when Gary makes Pesto and this might be the most delicious and versatile version he has come up. It’s a thick paste that can be used to flavor soup, or thinned to be used as a sauce on pasta, whole grains or veggies. It’s made with sunflower seeds instead of the traditional pines nuts, which are not only scrumptious but great for those who have tree nut allergies or find pine nuts too pricey for their budget. The Balsamic vinegar gives it a subtle sweetness, an old world Italian secret!
2 bunches of fresh basil (about 2 cups loosely packed)
2/3 cup olive oil (cold pressed, organic, extra virgin)
1/4 raw organic sunflower seeds
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
2 to 6 cloves of fresh garlic (depends on how garlicky you like it)
1 Tablespoon white miso (we use South River Sweet White Miso. South River makes soy-free and gluten-free misos, and they are all organic.)
1 small dried red hot chili pepper or a teaspoon of red pepper flakes (optional)
1/2 teaspoon Ground black pepper (optional)
Remove the leaves from the two bunches of basil and reserve the stems for another use.
Clean, wash and dry the leaves.
Put the basil leaves in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Pulse the leaves a few times, scraping down the sides and repeat several times.
Add the sunflower seeds, garlic, red pepper, miso, nutritional yeast and vinegar and continue pulsing and scraping the sides of the bowl until everything is well-incorporated; the mixture will look like a paste.
Turn on the food processor and stream the olive oil through the feed tube. Process for about a minute stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl. The mixture should look like a thick paste.
Season with fresh ground black pepper. Process and store in an airtight glass container.
Here’s how to use it with pasta.
Boil and drain about a pound of pasta, reserving 1 cup of pasta water in a pyrex/heat proof measuring cup. Give the pasta a very quick rinse to stop it from cooking but do not cool the pasta, keep it hot.
Place a quarter cup of the pesto concentrate in a stainless steel bowl and whisk in the hot water a half a cup at a time until you have a pesto sauce with the consistency of heavy soy creamer.
Toss the pasta with the pesto sauce and serve.