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Weekend Project: Sage Pesto

Weekend Project: Sage Pesto

My summer herb garden is winding down and it’s time to clean out the planters so the soil will be ready for next year. I had a good crop of sage, but I’ve never been able to winter over the plants, so it was time to pull it out and put it to use.

I made a quick inventory of the kitchen to see what could go with the sage. I came up with 1/4 cup grated Parmesan and a whole lot of sunflower seeds from a bulk bin malfunction I had while working on the bulk foods story recipes for the November 2012 issue of VT. (I couldn’t close the chute, and then I decided it wasn't good bulk bin etiquette to try to put back the excess seeds.) Add a clove of garlic, olive oil, and fresh parsley—all of which I had on hand—and bingo! I had the makings for sage pesto. Here’s the recipe:

Sage Pesto
Makes 1 cup

Use this pungent sauce the way you would basil pesto. With a film of olive oil poured over top, the pesto will keep 1 month in the refrigerator.

1/4 cup raw sunflower seeds
1 clove garlic, peeled
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 cups fresh parsley leaves
1/4 cup fresh sage leaves
1/2 cup olive oil, plus more for jar
1/2 tsp. salt
pinch ground black pepper

1. Toast sunflower seeds in small dry skillet 3 to 4 minutes, or until lightly browned, swirling skillet often to prevent burning. Transfer to bowl, and cool.
2. Place cooled sunflower seeds and garlic in bowl of food processor, and process until finely chopped. Add Parmesan, parsley, and sage, and process until finely chopped. With motor running, add olive oil in steady stream and process until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
3. Transfer pesto to 8-oz. jar, and smooth top. Pour 1/4 inch olive oil over pesto to preserve color. Store in refrigerator.