Preheat oven to 350°F/180ºC. Spread sunflower seeds on baking tray and toast for 5 minutes until starting to colour. Allow to cool.
In a mini food processor, place basil leaves, Parmesan cheese, garlic and salt.
Pulse until finely chopped into a paste. Add sunflower seeds and pulse again. Scrape down the sides as necessary.
Add extra virgin olive oil and pulse again until combined and smooth. Scrape down the sides when needed.
Taste and adjust salt if necessary.
See notes for variations, storage and use.
For a Classic Basil PestoSimply substitute ⅓ cup pine nuts for the sunflower seeds.Other Variations
light or regular olive oil can be used if preferred
pre-grated Parmesan instead of freshly grated
use fine table salt if that's all you have but start with half the quantity, taste and adjust as necessary
Try adding some parsley or mint OR make it with all parsley or even spinach. While oils such as macadamia, avocado or flavoured oils make a delicious change. Use your favourite hard cheese - maybe Romano, pecorino or asiago.How to storeThis sauce can be stored for 7 days in an airtight container in the refrigerator. To prevent discolouring, press down and smooth the surface before pouring over a thin layer of oil.Can pesto be frozen?Nut free pesto can be frozen in ice cube trays or my preferred method is in mini clip seal bags for up to 3 months.Serving suggestionsNut Free Pesto like classic pesto can be served with tagliatelle pasta but this sauce is so versatile, you'll find lots of ways to eat it. To begin, here are a few serving suggestions.
mix with sour cream and serve with crackers and vegetable sticks
accompaniment to grilled or roast chicken or barbecue meats
dollop on steamed or boiled potatoes
stir through minestrone
spread on a pizza base
add to pasta salads
Nutritional ValueNutritional value is based on 2 tablespoons per serving