This is a nut-free version of pesto using sunflower seeds instead of pine nuts. To get a truly sensational pesto sauce you need to use a mortar and pestle rather than a food processor or blender. Pounding the basil results in a beautiful creamy sauce and it’s much more fun to make.
Season: Summer, Autumn
Serves: 6 at home or 24 in the classroom
Fresh from the garden:basil, garlic
Recipe Source: Adapted from the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation
metric measuring spoons and cups
2 clean tea towels
chopping boards & non-slip mats
1 small knife
small non-stick frying pan
mortar and pestle
1 medium bowl
60 g parmesan cheese
½ cup sunflower seeds (or pine nuts)
2 large handfuls basil (about 2 cups well-packed leaves)
4 garlic cloves
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
What to do
Set out your equipment and ingredients.
Weigh the parmesan and grate it.
Place 2 tablespoons of the seeds (or nuts) in the frying pan and dry-fry over a medium heat until golden. Set aside to use as garnish.
Gently pull the basil leaves from their stems. Rinse the leaves and dry by rolling in a tea towel. Place the leaves in mortar and the stems in the red compost bucket.
Peel the papery skin off the garlic and put in the mortar with a little sea salt and pound until the garlic is a paste.
Add the rest of the seeds (or nuts) and basil leaves to the mortar and pound the mix until you have a rough paste.
Slowly mix in the oil. You should have a creamy paste, the same consistency as mayonnaise.
Using the spatula, scrape the pesto into the serving bowls with the parmesan and stir to combine. Taste for salt and season if necessary.
Toss with the pasta and garnish with the toasted seeds (or nuts) and some extra basil leaves.