Thai Basil Pesto

Thai Basil Pesto

Makes 1 cup    

  • 3     cups Thai basil leaves, lightly packed
  • 2     tablespoons minced fresh garlic
  • 1     teaspoon minced fresh red hot chili pepper
  • 2     tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 3/4  teaspoon flaky sea salt + more to taste
  • 1/4   teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2   cup pumpkin seeds, lightly toasted
  • 1     tablespoon fish sauce (nam pla), available at Asian markets
  • 1/2  cup extra virgin olive oil
  • cold water to thin, 2-3 tablespoons



Toast the pumpkin seeds in a dry skillet over low heat, shaking the pan and flipping the seeds frequently to evenly toast. Once the seeds begin to pop transfer them to a bowl and set aside to cool.

Place the basil leaves, minced garlic, minced chili peppers, lime juice, salt, and pepper into the work bowl of a food processor (or blender) and pulse until the basil leaves are finely chopped, scraping down the sides of the work bowl as needed while pulsing.

Add the toasted pumpkin seeds and pulse until they are finely chopped and well incorporated into the basil mixture. Add the fish sauce and pulse several times. With the processor running, add the extra virgin olive oil through the feed tube in a slow steady stream so that it will emulsify into the pesto. Scrape down the sides of the work bowl as needed and continue to process until the pesto is fairly smooth. At this point you may add cold water, a tablespoon at a time, pulsing between each addition, until the pesto is the consistency that you desire.

Store the pesto in a glass container and refrigerate; good for at least a week, or freeze for a later use.

Serving suggestions:

The pesto makes a quick and easy hors d’oeuvre; pesto atop crumbled chevre on crostoni.

For pasta; prepare some sauteed shrimp with slivered garlic and white wine and toss in with pasta and pesto, adding a little warm pasta cooking water to thin the pesto slightly. The fish sauce addition to the pesto, interestingly, replaces the assertive flavor of a grated cheese, so no cheese needed! A wedge of fresh lime squeezed over the pasta instead!

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