Monday, August 16, 2010

Parsley and Pepita Pesto

Parsley Pepita Pesto
Did you know that the word pesto in Italian doesn't always mean basil garlic sauce? I mean, sure, sometimes it does, but pesto in its simplest sense just means stomped, crushed, smashed to oblivion. The name of the sauce comes from the act of making it in a mortar and pestle, smashing the garlic and pine nuts into a paste with salt, then grinding in the basil and olive oil (and sometimes cheese, but not always). But just because that's how the sauce gets its name doesn't mean that's how you have to make it; these days the food processor is the way to go.
You also don't have to make pesto with just basil. That one up there on top of al dente green beans is made with parsley, pepitas (pumkin seeds), garlic, olive oil, and parmesan cheese. We ate it on top of those green beans last week, and this weekend we swirled it into some omelettes on a lazy Saturday morning. Tonight, I'm thinking potatoes with parsley and pepita pesto, and not just for the alliteration. I like the rounder, subtler taste of the parsley compared to basil, and the pepitas give it an interesting note of earthiness.
Oh hey look, other people make pesto out of things that aren't basil!
Arugula Pesto at Simply Recipes
Spinach and Basil Pesto at Kalyn's Kitchen
Korean Perilla Pesto at Muffin Top
Radish Green and Hazelnut Pesto at Delicious Days
Asparagus Pesto, right here, from a couple months ago
Parsley Pepita Pesto
You only need the leaves of the parsley here, but stick the stems in your freezer - next time you make chicken or vegetable stock, add them to the pot.
makes about a cup of pesto
1 bunch parsley, leaves only 
2 handfuls pepitas (about 2/3 cup)
2-3 cloves garlic, peeled
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
olive oil (I started with 1/2 a cup)
salt (I started with 1 teaspoon)
lemon juice (optional - I started with about half a tablespoon)
Briefly toast the pepitas in a dry pan over medium heat until they are just starting to take on color. Put the pepitas and garlic in the food processor and pulse a few times to chop them up. I like to do this before I add the herbs so I don't come across any huge chunks in the finished product.
Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then add the parsley, cheese, and about a teaspoon of salt, then set the processor running on low. Add the oil in a slow stream through the tube while the processor is running. I started with half a cup but ended up adding a little more; how much you use depends on how big your bunch of parsley was. You may need to stop and scrape down the sides of the bowl and continue processing.
When the pesto has reached a consistency you like, shut off the machine and taste the sauce. If you think it needs it, add the lemon juice, and maybe more salt, then pulse the processor a few times to thoroughly mix. Taste again and adjust accordingly.
Serve on vegetables, potatoes, pasta, fish, etc.


  1. While I've done pesto with basil, arugula, mint... even beet greens. I have never tried it with parsley. Looks fantastic!

  2. I love using pepitas in pastes. My favorite is cilantro pesto with pepitas, garlic, and green chiles.

  3. Mm, Jer that sounds great! Green chiles, genius.

  4. This is brilliant! I have a lot of sad, lonely pepitas sitting in my pantry right now.

  5. Mmm! I make odds-and-ends pesto about this time of year with whatever herbs and nuts I have on hand (basil and hazelnuts work surprisingly well together) but parsley and pepitas is one I haven't tried.

  6. This is a great way to use extra parsley - sounds delicious!

  7. I have done parsley--but not pepitas. This sounds delicious and looks lovely.

  8. made it! thanks for the good recipe. cannot find beloved basil, guess it went out of season as quickly as it came in. no shortage of parsley whatsoever. will use it in addition to a blend of cheeses for these boreks:
    normally ppl just put feta, parsley, and egg. SO boring ;-)