Dig In: Nut Free Basil Pesto (52 New Foods, Week 27) July 10 2012, 4 Comments

nut free basil pest

This week we dirty up our diets with nut free basil pesto made straight from our garden. Dig in!

Our new food adventures this week continue to focus on dirtying up our diets. Overflowing in our tiny kitchen garden is fresh basil. A distinct and refreshing partner in soups and pasta dishes, basil is one of our favorite garden herbs. With a hearty crop on our hands, we decided it was time to try basil pesto!

Basil Pesto (Without the Nuts)

basil pesto pasta

Most basil pesto recipes call for pine nuts, or walnuts, but Susan from Our Family Eats had a creative twist on this simple recipe: sunflower seeds. Our school is nut free, so I am always looking for delicious and easy recipes that can be equally featured on our dinner and lunchbox menus. Nut free basil pesto was the ticket!

Nut Free Basil Pesto

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 0 minutes
Makes about 1 cup of pesto, enough for 2 to 3 meals

1 cup garden fresh basil, packed
1/3 cup sunflower seeds
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup olive oil
1 clove of garlic
Salt and pepper to taste


1) Harvest your fresh basil! Wash thoroughly with water. Give your hands a good wash too, with soap and water.

basil pesto harvest

2) Load your ingredients into a food processor.

basil pesto load

3) Blend it up! Add salt and pepper to taste. We added a little extra olive oil to give our pesto a smoother texture.

basil pesto blend

4) Enjoy!

basil pesto enjoy

Tip: If you want to freeze your basil pesto, leave out the cheese. It doesn't freeze well. Portion the cheese-free pesto into an ice cube tray, cover and freeze. Once frozen, remove from the tray and store in a freezer bag. When you’re ready to use your sauce, defrost and add the grated Parmesan.

Crunch a Color Kids Vote: Let’s dig in!

What we liked: This recipe is so fresh and easy! It’s also super flexible. We featured our basil pesto on homemade pasta. It would also be tasty served over chicken, or on a fresh, crusty French baguette. The possibilities are endless!

* What is your favorite way to prepare pesto?

Craving more new recipes to try? Catch up on last week’s recipe: Butter Lettuce with a Side of Dirt.

About the author: Jennifer Tyler Lee is a mom of two children and the creator of Crunch a Color™ -- the award-winning game that makes healthy eating fun. Like most parents, she struggled to get her kids to eat healthy, balanced meals, so she decided to make it into a healthy eating game and she’s giving back to support non-profit kids' nutrition programs including Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution and FoodCorps. Watch her picky eaters tell the story of how they turned into healthy eaters playing the game. Follow @crunchacolor on Facebook Twitter and Pinterest to tune into Crunch a Color's healthy eating adventure and Jennifer’s tips and kid-friendly, easy recipes.