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Toasted Pepita Pesto

Cheryl Rule – toasted pepita pesto (orig)_546x320

Pesto can be made with almost any nut or seed one desires; this recipe uses pepitas. Toasting the pepitas releases their oils and deepens their flavor for a delicious take on the classic.

Serve over whole wheat pasta thinned with a bit of pasta cooking water and topped with halved cherry tomatoes, torn fresh basil leaves, and a sprinkling of Parmesan.

Makes 1-1/4 cups

• 1 scant cup raw, unsalted pepitas
• 2-1/4 cups (packed) fresh basil leaves
• 1 large garlic clove, rough-chopped
• 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
• 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
• 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus a bit more for topping off the jar
• 1/4 cup (packed) shredded parmesan

Toast the pepitas in a dry skillet over medium heat, shaking, until they color in spots and start to sizzle and pop, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate to cool.

In a food processor, grind the basil, garlic, toasted pepitas, salt, and pepper. With the machine on, slowly stream in the 1/2 cup oil through the feed tube. Process until fully emulsified, about 1 minute. Scrape into a medium bowl and stir in the cheese.

To store, pack in a small jar and top off with olive oil. Keep refrigerated, topping off with additional oil as needed to keep the pesto nice and green. Use within 7 days or freeze, covered, for up to 3 months.