Need A Nut-Free Substitute For Your Pesto? Try Pumpkin Seeds

Pesto sauce and ingredients
Pesto sauce and ingredients - Gorchittza2012/Getty Images

Even if you're not a gardener, it's pretty easy to grow fresh basil. In fact, it's so easy that you can end up with a lot more fresh basil than you bargained for. But not to worry, because more fresh basil just means more pesto, and more pesto means more pizza, pasta, and antipasto. Traditionally the savory spread is made with pine nuts, however, which is off limits for anyone with a nut allergy. Even most store-bought pestos aren't allergy friendly, unfortunately, but at home you can easily swap out pumpkin seeds for pine nuts in any recipe you'd like. Not only will you get a perfectly passable pesto that's safe for most people, you can also save money on expensive pine nuts.

Pumpkin seeds have a similar texture and fat content as pine nuts, so they'll give you the same consistency in pesto. Just be sure to buy shelled pumpkin seeds, because all you need for pesto is the meat of the seed, and read the packaging carefully to avoid cross contamination.

Read more: 11 Of The Best Cooking Tips From Bobby Flay

Make Pumpkin Seed Pesto

Pumpkin seeds in a wooden bowl
Pumpkin seeds in a wooden bowl - Nodar Chernishev/Getty Images

As any allergy sufferer knows, the upside making food at home is that you can control the ingredients. While there are a lot of allergy-friendly foods on the market these days, if you want to be absolutely sure you're not exposing yourself to anything that can cause a reaction it's always better to make risky foods like pesto yourself.

To make an allergy-friendly pesto, all you have to do is swap out pumpkin seeds for pine nuts in any standard pesto recipe. If you're not confident making substitutions, there are plenty of recipes for pumpkin seed pesto, too, just be sure to use pumpkin seeds that have already been shelled. Sometimes they're labeled as pepitas at the grocery store, and you can use raw, roasted, or roasted and salted varieties for pesto-making purposes. Just don't try to use unshelled pumpkin seeds leftover after making a pumpkin pie, for instance, because you don't want any of the chewy outer shell in your pesto. Also, pumpkin seeds are not as soft as pine nuts so you may need to process your pumpkin seed pesto a little longer than normal.

Some People Are Also Allergic To Pumpkin Seeds

Pesto sauce on a wooden spoon
Pesto sauce on a wooden spoon - Anton Starikov/Shutterstock

Even if you're not personally allergic to pine nuts, it's good to use pumpkin seeds and err on the safe side if you're making a lot of pesto for food at a party or an event. It's pretty common for at least one person in any group to have a nut allergy, and pumpkin seeds are a fairly safe substitute that won't taste much different than pesto made with pine nuts.

Keep in mind, however, that not everyone can eat pumpkin seeds. Pine nut allergies are much more common than seed allergies, but there's always a chance that someone is allergic to nuts and seeds, or just pumpkin seeds alone. Also, make sure to carefully read the packaging of any pumpkin seeds before you serve or eat them to make sure they weren't exposed to nuts in the factory where they were processed. If you're not absolutely sure if your guests are able to eat pumpkin seed pesto, make sure everyone knows the ingredients list before you serve it. That way nobody will have to cut the party short by having an allergic reaction.

Read the original article on The Daily Meal.