Sunflower Seed Pesto Pasta

Confession: I absolutely love pasta. There, I said it. I eat carbs. Quite often, actually. At my house pasta makes the menu once a week, sometimes more during autumn and winter. But what about in July? Summer isn’t the best time to load up on carbs, and most of my favorite sauces are rich and calorie-heavy delectables best left for sweater weather.

Don't worry - we got this. Of course I have a favorite summer pasta recipe - one that combines a bounty of fresh seasonal flavors sans the scale scare. I also have a nut allergy, so pine nuts are a big no-no for me, plus I think the sunflower seeds up the summery factor even more.

Sunflower Seed Pesto Pasta

Ingredients

1 16-ounce package Cavatappi pasta (I prefer DeCecco brand dry pastas.)

2 cups packed basil

5 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for garnish

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup sunflower seed kernels, unsalted

salt and pepper to taste

Directions

In a food processor, chop the basil and garlic together. Add the Parmesan cheese and sunflower seeds and pulse into a coarse paste. With the machine on, slowly add the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.


During pesto prep, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. I use a 7 1/4 quart Le Creuset Dutch Oven for cooking pasta. Add pasta, and return to a boil. Cook pasta for 8-9 minutes, or until al dente; drain in a colander and return to pot. Scoop pesto over cooked pasta, stir well.

Garnish with Parmesan cheese. I love serving this pasta dish with a good Sauvignon Blanc. For an extra touch of whimsy, decorate your table with bright and cheerful sunflower bouquets.

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