Parsley and pumpkin seed pesto
July 14, 2012 § 6 Comments
Five days is a long time, especially in the summer when there’s no power and it’s averaging over 100 degrees. Your interests before the power outage seem distant — food seems far away and so cooking is out of the question — replaced with the new hobby of lying on the floor in the basement in an attempt to minimize movement. That is, until the power trucks finally come rumbling down the street. I was never the groupie type until that moment, when it was all I could do to not run down the street after them screaming I LOVE YOU!!!
Even now with the electricity back on, it feels like walking through molasses outside. That means it’s time to turn to the food processor, as summertime is really when it shines: with a few pulses it transforms abundant produce and herbs into all sorts of no- or barely-cook meals and dishes, like gazpacho, salsa, granitas, and of course, pesto.
During the power outage I enjoyed reading River Cottage Every Day by flashlight, and one chapter has a section of several pestos and their variations, and also how to use them. I chose the first one, parsley and pumpkin seed pesto because parsley is abundant at the farmers’ market. This pesto is nutty and very fresh, thanks to the parsley’s verdant lushness and the raw pumpkin seeds. Asiago cheese and olive oil, together with the pumpkin seeds, create an almost creamy texture, while the garlic and lemon juice add brightness and bite.
Try this pesto added to a frittata or stirred into freshly-boiled new potatoes. Or, my favorite, dabbed around and over some fresh mozarella, with extra olive oil drizzled around too. It’s perfect for lazy summer lunches, outdoors if you like, though I’m quite fond of my shaded air-conditioned kitchen still.
Parsley and pumpkin seed pesto
Adapted from River Cottage Every Day
Makes about two cups
- One cup (150 grams) pumpkin seeds
- Two garlic cloves, roughly chopped
- A large bunch flat-leaf parsley, any major stems removed (aim for mostly leaves, but don’t go crazy over it either)
- One to one and a quarter cups (240-295 ml) extra virgin olive oil, or canola oil
- Juice of one lemon
- About 1/2 cup (twenty grams) grated Asiago cheese (or Parmesan)
- Sea salt and freshly-ground pepper
1. In a large food processor, combine the pumpkin seeds and garlic. Pulse until they are roughly grain-shaped.
2. Remove any exceptionally stemmy bits from the parsley, and add the leaves to the food processor. Again, pulse until the leaves are uniformly blended in with the pumpkin seeds and the garlic. Slowly drizzle in the olive or canola oil until you have a grainy paste (I tend to leave my pestos on the drier side if I will not be serving all of it right away; see note for storage information) and pulse again.
3. Squeeze in the lemon juice, and then toss in the grated cheese. Pulse the pesto once or twice until combined. Taste and see if it needs salt and pepper or perhaps a bit more lemon juice, and pulse once more to mix.
4. Serve the pesto immediately, or store in the refrigerator for later.
Note: to store the pesto, I leave it on the slightly drier side as I move it to a container, pressing down on the pesto with the back of a spoon to remove as much air as possible. Then, pour over extra-virgin olive oil or canola oil (whichever was used before) until it is about 1/3 inch thick on top of the pesto, and then cover. The pesto will keep for up to a week in the refrigerator if topped off with more oil after each time it’s served.
Fearnley-Whittingstall, Hugh. “Parsley and pumpkin seed pesto.” River Cottage Every Day. Berkeley, CA: Ten Speed Press, 2009 (132).
If you are located in the UK, the book was published by Bloomsbury in London, also in 2009 (the pagination may be slightly different).