Sunflower Basil Pesto

Sunflower Basil Pesto

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Adjust Servings:
2 cups Fresh Basil Leaves
0.25 cup raw Sunflower Seeds
0.3 cup Parmesan Cheese
1 large Garlic Clove
1 Lemon
0.5 teaspoon Sea Salt
0.25 teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
0.5 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
4 ounces Pasta (I used Casarecce)

Sunflower Basil Pesto

  • 15 minutes
  • Serves 2
  • Easy




Easy, made in the blender sunflower seed basil pesto that pairs well with any kind of pasta or pizza!

Growing your own herbs is very satisfying. Of course, I’m still learning as I go and I’ve killed a few plants in my lifetime.

The good news is that my basil plant is still alive and well! One of the secrets is to water and pruning it often.

Whenever I prune my basil plant, I’m left with a good amount of basil leaves.

So what to do with all that basil? Pesto always comes to mind!

This is sort of controversial but I don’t like pine nuts. They are very expensive and I don’t particularly care for the flavor either.

Pine nuts are traditionally used in basil pesto but I prefer using seeds. In this case, I am using sunflower seeds!

Sunflower seeds contain magnesium, iron, calcium, potassium, protein and vitamin E.

They are also rich in the B complex vitamins, which are essential for a healthy nervous system.

If you do not have any sunflower seeds on hand, you can use any other type of seed or nut!

I also love using pumpkin seeds or almonds to make pesto!

Since this recipe has minimal ingredients and is mostly raw, it is important to use high-quality products.

Use an extra virgin olive oil that comes in a dark bottle.

Most olive oils are blends for one of two regions. If you can find a single origin extra virgin olive oil I would go for it!

Really good olive oil should be smooth, fruity and have a beautiful aroma.

Make a big batch of this pesto and use it as a sauce with your favorite pasta.

This sunflower basil pesto also works great as a pizza topping or dip with a bit more extra virgin olive oil and crusty bread.





Let's Talk Basil

Whether you are using store-bought or home grown, gently wash the basil leaves and discard the stems.

You will need 2 cups (the more the better) of whole basil leaves.


Toast The Sunflower Seeds

Heat a dry skillet on high heat and add 1/4 cup of raw sunflower seeds (or any other seed or nut).

Lower the heat to medium and lightly toast the seeds.

Keep and eye on it and frequently stir or toss the seeds in the skillet to avoid burning.

As soon as you can smell the toasted seeds and they are lightly golden, remove the seeds from the heat and allow to cool a bit.


Get Your Food Processor

Add the washed basil leaves, toasted sunflower seeds, grated parmesan cheese, a large garlic clove, sea salt and black pepper and pulse on low for a few seconds.

Next, with the food processor on low and using the feeding tube, stream in the extra virgin olive oil in a slow and steady stream.

If your food processor doe snot have a feeding tube, simply add the extra virgin olive oil in two stages to ensure it is fully incorporated.

Once the olive oil is in, allow the food processor to run on low for 3-4 minutes.


How To Store The Pesto

If you are not using your pesto right away or have some left over, pour it into a glass jar and seal with an air-tight lid.

Store your pesto in the refrigerator for up to a week.


Combine Pesto & Pasta

If you are ready to eat the pesto with some pasta, boil your pasta until al-dente then add it to a skillet along with the pesto on medium-low heat.

Stir to combine and add pasta water if the sauce is a bit thick and/or dry.


Garnish & Serve

Garnish your pesto pasta with some more grated parmesan cheese and some fresh basil leaves!

I also love adding green peas, broccoli, spinach, or sausage to this dish!

Possibilities are pretty much endless!


Hi guys, so glad you are here! My food blog is about easy, colorful and mostly healthy recipes. I grew up in Germany and have been in the states since 2002. Currently, I am living in sunny Miami, FL! Please leave me a comment if you have questions or recipe requests and also follow me on social media via @foodbyjonister. Happy cooking and eating!

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