Pesto to the Italians is what Kerrygold butter is to the Irish. Now I live in Australia I believe Vegemite is the hallowed spread. I always make pesto with soaked almonds primarily because pine nuts are ludicrously expensive with not so much nutritional bang for my dollar. I recently discovered the incredible work of Australian Chef and Queen of the gut, Carla Oates of The Beauty Chef. Her book The Beauty Chef has become my go-to bible for a healthy microbiome. Carla’s 150 recipes are accessible, affordable, and thankfully high on flavour. It can be so hard to convince people to continue to make dishes that are “good” for them if they are bland in flavour. Gluten-free and dairy-free don’t have to mean your taste buds go into a coma.
Carla’s recipe for a pumpkin seed pesto is too good not to share with my friends across the globe who may not have discovered her work before. Every weekend I whip up a batch of this to last the week. It rarely does as it goes with literally everything. Eggs, sandwiches, pasta, chicken, and fish. I am only a spoonful away from a savoury pesto smoothie, though I believe that is called soup.
Follow her steps exactly and what she recommends for the herbs to start. You can play around with the herbs afterwards. It works just as well without nutritional yeast if you cannot get your hands on some. Now jump over to Amazon or your local bookshop preferably and order her book. Let’s keep glowing from the inside out.
Pumpkin Seed & Herb Pesto
Makes approx 310g (1 1/4 cups)
1 1/2 tsp sea salt (I use Himalayan pink salt)
3/4 cup pumpkin seeds
3 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
zest of 1 unwaxed lemon (or wash the lemon in warm water with apple cider vingear and scrub well)
4 garlic cloves, smashed & minced
3 large handfuls of basil
1 small handful of mint
1 large handful of flat-leaf parsley
1 large handful oregano (I have also used 1/2 handful)
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper (I use Himalayan pink salt)
Fill a medium bowl three-quarter with water. Add the salt and stir until mostly dissolved. Add the pumpkin seeds and cover the bowl with a clean dishtowel. Set aside in your kitchen to soak for at least 7 hours (and up to 12 hours). I like to soak overnight. Drain and rinse well.
Blend the seeds, yeast flakes, lemon juice, zest, and garlic in a small food processor until finely chopped. Add the herbs, and with the motor running, gradually pour in the oil until combined. Taste and season with salt and black pepper to taste.
I admit I have added all ingredients together at the same time and it works perfectly.
Use immediately and/or store in an airtight container such as a jam jar in the fridge for up to one week. Make sure to cover the pesto with a thin layer of olive oil to prevent discolouration.
📸 Andrea Lucy