Pumpkin Seed and Mandarin Pesto

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One of the reasons I love Thanksgiving so much is because of all of the nostalgia that’s wrapped up in one delicious menu — stuffing that my grandfather made, my Grandma’s gravy, that traditional green bean casserole, my in-laws’ sweet potato casserole, or an old family friend’s cranberry sauce. Not only is Thanksgiving a day to enjoy the company of close friends and family but you get to re-live fond memories of your family’s past through food. I fell in love with cooking because of that innate power of food: the ability to bring people together and nourish them, body and soul.

In spite of the joy that the Thanksgiving menu brings, it can also feel slightly static for some. I will be the first to admit that I love my favorite dishes to be present at the table this time of year, but I have also sought ways to add creativity to the family’s standard menu without changing it entirely. (You wouldn’t want to anger Aunt Bethany when you switch out her favorite seafood jello with fruit salad, after all.) But you could try adding something like a different appetizer, a new cookie, or in this case a different sauce like a pesto to add some flair to the standard Thanksgiving menu.

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This year, I’m adding this Pumpkin Seed and Mandarin Pesto. My guests will be able to add this new addition to their turkey, stuffing, or veg sides without sacrificing the family’s favorite recipes. It’s a win-win!

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Pumpkin Seed and Mandarin Pesto

Yields 1 cup
Ingredients:
  • 3-4 cups basil leaves
  • ¼ cup toasted pumpkin seeds
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • zest from 1 mandarin
  • juice from 2 mandarins
  • 2 tbsp. shredded parmesan, pecorino or salty, hard cheese of choice.
  • ½ cup olive or avocado oil
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 2 tbsp. salt
Blend all of the ingredients in a blender until smooth. If the pesto is not reaching the desired smooth consistency, add a couple more drops of oil and blend. Season with more salt and pepper if you would like. Enjoy!
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