Pesto is one of my favourite things to make – it’s simple, speedy, versatile and can take on whatever flavours you want it to have.
This Pumpkin Seed & Sun Dried Tomato Pesto makes a nice change from nut or pine nut-based recipes and tastes just as divine dolloped on a hot dish of pasta as it does a raw tomato salad.
You’ll know by now that some of my favourite ingredients include tomatoes, olives and fresh lemon. The Mediterranean really is my culinary spiritual home and – aside from when I’m cooking up curries or Asian-inspired noodle dishes or salads – the flavours of this region tend to form the basis of my recipe ideas.
I don’t know about you, but the mere hint of an olive and some fresh herbs has me daydreaming of salty seas, chilled rosé and some olive oil-dipped bread. So even when I know I might not be visiting my favourite summer shores any time soon, I know I can recreate at least some of the flavours and memories in my own kitchen.
This recipe is so simple, but it can be used in all manner of ways. How about:
- spread on crusty bread, or slices of apple and tomato for a quick snack;
- stirred into zoodles or spaghetti for an instant pasta sauce;
- as a simple and delicious dip;
- spread on chickpea-flour blinis to serve as a canapé (as featured in these photos); or
- as a surprisingly tangy and effective alternative to cheese…
Now, you might be wondering what on earth this has to do with cheese, but bear with me. This recipe came about as a little something extra to go with a rich and spicy pasta dish that I’ve been testing (and will be sharing with you soon). I was fully intending on also making some brazil nut or almond parmesan, but as soon as I tasted this pesto I was amazed at how much it added a real piquancy.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying this tastes of cheese, but it has a savoury cheese-effect. Perhaps it’s the saltiness of the olives with the tangy tomatoes, or the earthiness of the pumpkin seeds, but it just works.
If you love simple but flavoursome Mediterranean recipes, here my top 5 from the archives – which, put together, actually make a rather lovely lunch or picnic spread:
- Mini Kalamata Quiches
- 3-Ingredient Kalamata Tapenade
- Greek-Style Baby Aubergines
- Chermoula-Spiced Karantita
- Kale Fattoush.
Taste that sunshine and sea, smell the fresh herbs and listen to the glug of a caraffe being refreshed (or emptied).
How will you combine this 6-ingredient pesto with your favourite dishes?
- 30g pumpkin seeds
- 10 sun dried tomatoes (approx 40g)
- 20 pitted olives (I like to use kalamata)
- 30g / 1 bunch fresh basil, leaves picked
- Juice of ½ lemon (organic if possible)
- 1 tbsp good olive oil
- Hydrate the sun dried tomatoes in hot water and set aside.
- Briefly blitz the pumpkin seeds in a food processor - I like to retain some of the texture, rather than create a powder.
- Add the remaining ingredients to the pumpkin seeds and pulse until you have a paste. This is quite a thick pesto - if you want it to be more liquid, add more oil.
- Store in a sterilised jar in the fridge. It should keep for at least a week.