In order to make this:
I had to make this:
It’s no secret that I love pesto. You could blend pretty much anything together and call it a pesto…and I’ll be in line to try it!
I wanted to make a spicy chicken sausage pizza with the new Gold’n Plump Hot Italian Chicken Sausages (which were delicious, by the way) that I received in the mail.
I was excited about the sausages because they are lower in calories and contain substantially less fat than regular pork sausage. They’re nitrate free, dairy free and also gluten free! Awesome! Gold’n Plump is also a Minnesota company, and the chickens are raised on family farms just a few hours from where I live. (More about these sausages later…along with a giveaway!)
I was aiming to recreate Zpizza’s Santa Fe pizza–it’s a spicy chicken sausage pizza that my husband absolutely loves. I’ve never actually tried it, but he raves and raves about it every Monday, so I thought I’d check out the toppings online and figure out what makes this pizza so special.
Reading the ingredients, 2 words jumped out at me. Chipotle Pesto.
I’ve never heard of such a thing, and I was curious. I needed to make it, and I needed to make it now! (Patience is not my strong point…).
I love a good challenge, so I started going through combinations in my head until I came up with what I thought would be the perfect recipe.
Not to toot my own horn or anything–but this pesto rocked!!! 🙂
I knew chipotle peppers and adobo sauce would be two key ingredients, and I figured I’d stick with the Parmesan cheese that you’d expect to find in a typical basil pesto. I didn’t want to use pine nuts for two reasons. One, they’re really expensive, and I didn’t want to use them in an experiment. And Two, I didn’t know if the flavor would be what I was looking for.
I dug through my pantry…and there was my answer. A big, unopened bag of Pepita Seeds (pumpkin seeds).
Pepitas are the edible seeds inside the white hull of a pumpkin seed. They’re a light green color, and have a mild pumpkin flavor. They are commonly used in Mexican cuisine, so I figured they’d pair really well with the chipotle peppers.
If you’re unfamiliar with chipotles and have no idea where to find them, fear not!
They’re simply smoked jalapeno peppers which are easily found in the Mexican isle of the super-market–usually packed in cans of adobo sauce. They add a really wonderful smokey flavor to a dish–along with a little spice! (Be mindful when adding adobo to recipes, the sauce can be pretty spicy).
I grabbed a can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce out of the pantry and separated the chilies from the sauce. I rinsed 5 chilies under cold water–just to get the sauce off–and then split them to remove the seeds. If you really love spice, you could definitely leave the seeds in, but I thought it might just be a little too much for me.
When I finished prepping the chipotle peppers, I added them–along with garlic, parmesan, pepitas, adobo sauce and my homemade chili-garlic olive oil (recipe) into a food processor.
I pulsed everything together until it was well blended and at the consistency I wanted (although a little more oil would have maybe been nice).
It was so different. The taste was an exciting explosion of flavor on my tongue! It was sweet, smokey, salty, spicy all at once!
My recipe made about a cup of pesto, so I put it in a few jars and tossed it in the fridge until I was ready to use it. I’m not real sure how long it would last, as I’ve never made it before, but I’d say at least a week in the fridge–longer if you toss it in the freezer instead (freeze it in ice-cube trays, then it’s perfectly portioned too!).
I’m really excited to share my Spicy Sausage Pizza with Chipotle Pepper and Pepita Seed Pesto recipe with you, but if that doesn’t sound like something you’d enjoy, you could definitely slather some pesto on slices of toasted french bread and top with roasted tomatoes and crumbled queso fresco! YUM!
Or you could make some pasta and toss it with the pesto and a variety of vegetables. That sounds good too!
Or maybe even use it to make a really unique quesidilla! I’m imagining toasted tortillas filled with a mixture of shredded mozzarella, queso fresco, sliced green chilies (or bell peppers if you don’t want more spice), and chicken!
The options are endless!
Stay tuned for my pizza recipe—it’ll be showing up on my blog shortly. You’ll also want to check back because the nice folks at Gold’n Plump have also agreed to give a chicken sausage sampler pack to one lucky reader! Their new line includes:
- Chicken Bratwursts
- Hot Italian Chicken Sausage
- Parmesan Italian Chicken Sausage
- Apple Maple Breakfast Chicken Sausage Links
Chipotle Pepper and Pepita Seed Pesto
(makes approximately 1 cup finished pesto)
- 5 chipotle peppers- rinsed, seeded and roughly chopped
- 5 garlic cloves- chopped
- 3/4 c. Parmesan cheese- shredded
- 1/2 c. pepitas- dry roasted
- 1 tsp adobo sauce- or to taste (this can be spicy!)
- 1/3c. to 1/2 c. chili-garlic olive oil (can substitute a different oil)
- pepper/salt-to taste
- Place the parmesan cheese in the food processor. Process until the cheese becomes a fine powder. Then add the pepita seeds to the cheese and process again. Pulse until the seeds are finely chopped–don’t process too long though–you don’t want the seeds to begin to turn into nut-butter.
- Add the chopped garlic, chipotle chiles, and adobo sauce. Process until everything is well combined and it begins to take the form of a traditional pesto.
- Turn the food processor onto the lowest speed and drizzle the oil into the mixture (while everything is being processed). Stop adding oil once the mixture reaches your desired consistency.
- Season with salt and pepper, if needed. Transfer pesto into jars and store in the refrigerator for up to one week, or in the freezer for up to 2 months.