Basil and Sunflower Seed Pesto

A hearty pesto made with basil and sunflower seeds instead of pine nuts.
By Erica Scime

Basil and Sunflower Seed Pesto

I love a good pine nut and herb pesto but the price of pine nuts is just awful and, I’m afraid, not in my student budget. That’s why I came up with this tasty pesto recipe that uses basil and sunflower seeds instead of pine nuts. The basil in this pesto is bold and the sunflower seeds give it the hearty, nutty flavor that I love so much in pine nut pesto.

Dare I say it? This basil and sunflower seed pesto is just as good as the pine nut original. Maybe even better.

5.0 from 1 reviews
Basil and Sunflower Seed Pesto
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A hearty pesto made with basil and sunflower seeds instead of pine nuts.
Recipe Type: Main
Serves: 1
  • ¼ cup of olive oil
  • ¼ cup of sunflower seeds
  • 2 tbsp of dried basil
  • 2 tbsp of Parmesan, grated
  • ½ tsp of garlic, minced
  • ½ tsp of lemon
  • salt and pepper
  1. Place all of the ingredients into a blender and blend until just about smooth. I like to have a few bits of sunflower seeds in my pesto but this is just a matter of preference.
  2. Pour the blended pesto into a saucepan over medium heat and heat for a few minutes or until warm.
  3. Serve with penne or any other kind of pasta.

  1. Just made this, it was great! Much better than store bought pesto. And my roommate is allergic to pine nuts, so the sunflower seeds were a nice substitute from traditional pestos!

  2. Hey Erica I bought some sunflower seeds to use in a salad. There were so many left over I started wondering what else they could be used for and was inspired to try making it into a pesto just as you did.I toasted my seeds before use but otherwise our recipes are identical. Pine nuts are as you say very expensive, and this version is a tasty and cost-conscious alternative. All the best, Robert

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