sunflower pâté & basil-cashew pesto

(two simple summer spreads, classic & fresh!)

For us, summer means eating outside. We think it’s true – food just tastes better out of doors! In this issue we invite you on a picnic, rain or shine or bugs! The first French pique niques were regal affairs with chairs, waiters and crystal – a long way from checkered vinyl and wicker baskets. For our picnic we’ve prepared two simple, tasty spreads that keep well and won’t spoil in the heat. Sunflower pâté is the classic baked vegetarian pâté and our basil-cashew pesto makes a fabulous sandwich or cracker spread. All you need to bring is a baguette and a blanket.

sunflower pâté

2 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes
2 cups raw sunflower seeds
1/4 cup olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 T ground sage
1 t ground rosemary
1 t thyme
1/2 t ground pepper
1 t salt
2 T engevita yeast
3 T soy sauce


  1. Preheat the oven to 250°F.
  2. Boil the potatoes until soft but not mushy. Drain and reserve the cooking water.
  3. Toast the sunflower seeds on a baking sheet until fragrant and light brown, checking frequently to prevent burning. In a coffee grinder or food processor, finely grind the seeds and set aside. Increase the oven temperature to 350°F.
  4. Sauté the onion in olive oil on medium-high heat for five minutes. Add the carrot, celery, garlic, herbs and salt. Continue cooking until the celery is soft.
  5. Mix together all the ingredients in a bowl. In a food processor, blend the mixture until well combined. Add just enough reserved potato water to help the blending. If your food processor has a small bowl, blend the mixture in several batches.
  6. Lightly oil a 9-inch baking dish or loaf pan. Press the mixture into the dish. Bake uncovered for 30 to 40 minutes.
  7. Cool the pâté before serving. The pâté is more flavourful the following day, and it will keep for several days in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Makes 1 pan.
Note: If it’s just too hot to turn on the oven, the pâté does not have to be baked, although baking improves the flavour and texture. Since all the ingredients are precooked, you can just blend and serve!

basil-cashew pesto

1/3 cup unsalted cashews, toasted
1 cup basil leaves, packed
1/2 cup parsley, stems removed
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 t engevita yeast
1/4 to 1/2 t sea salt
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil


  1. Place the cashews in a food processor and grind until the texture is a coarse meal.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients to the processor, except the olive oil.
  3. With the machine running, slowly add the oil. (If your processor does not allow this function, simply add the oil in 3 or 4 batches, blending and stirring in between.)
  4. Continue blending until the texture is relatively smooth and uniform.

Makes 1 cup.
Note: If you are not using the pesto right away, place it in an airtight container with a drizzle of olive oil over top of the pesto. The oil helps retain colour and seal in freshness.

Risa Salsberg has been cooking vegetarian for over 25 years and is a graduate of Dubrille Culinary. She has studied macrobiotics and whole foods in California and trained at Sanko-in, a Buddhist nunnery specializing in shojin ryori (traditional Buddhist vegetarian cookery). Risa is currently studying fine arts in Vancouver. Craig Walker first began cooking vegetarian in tree planting camps. Craig has studied macrobiotics at the Vega Study Center and has cooked professionally in Japan.

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