I’ve always dreamed of being able to grow a beautiful garden full of vegetables and herbs that I can pick at my leisure. Being in Bermuda I definitely have the advantage of growing plants year round. Last year I headed to Brighton Nursery and picked out all the seedlings I wanted to grow: 4 types of lettuces, arugula, tomatoes, peppers, and all the herbs you would need in a kitchen. I was determined to nurture these babies into healthy plants! At first the jalapeño’s were doing great, I had harvested my first crop of cute little green peppers but the slugs eventually got to them and the happy peppers looked quite sad. The lettuces always tasted bitter and my tomato plants never grew past 2 feet. All the herbs however, great into healthy aromatic bushes! I knew I didn’t have a black thumb…it was more like a brown one!
So this year, I thought I would up my gardening game and try growing some herbs from seeds. It was like a little science experiment in my kitchen window. I was so excited when I saw the little green spouts emerge from the soil. And because I was 50% sure that this project would survive I sowed way more basil than I really needed to grow. My brown thumb had succeeded again! So currently outside our doorstop in our little Bermuda apartment are giant bushes of healthy green basil plants.
Pesto is the obvious choice to me for what to make when you have an abundance of basil. For a while I didn’t even think about making the simple sauce because of Dan’s nut allergy and I just didn’t think it tasted the same without pine nuts. But toasted sunflower seeds turned out to be the perfect alternative. The last few times we’ve had company for dinner I made this easy pesto appetizer and it’s always a hit. The creamy lemony ricotta pairs perfectly with the zesty pesto and the touch of sweetness from the honey ties it all together.
Nut Free Pesto and Lemon Ricotta Crostini
2 cups of packed basil leaves
2 cloves of garlic
1/4 cup shelled sunflower seeds
1/2 cup of olive oil
1/2 cup of grated parmesan
2 cups of whole milk ricotta
drizzle of honey
zest of one lemon
Lightly toast sunflower seeds in a pan until golden. Combine basil, garlic, parmesan cheese, olive oil and seeds in a bowl of a food processor and pulse until a smooth. Season with sea salt to taste.
Mix ricotta with lemon zest and set aside.
Cut baguette into thin slices and toast lightly. Spoon ricotta onto crostini, top with a dollop of pesto and drizzle the honey over to serve.