Toasted Sunflower Pesto

Hello friends!

Apologies for neglecting you – I’ve been a busy bear with work lately, and have perhaps not quite gotten my time-management skills running like a well-oiled machine. Hand me the oil though – I’ll get there! Give it time..

Anyway, I thought I’d pop in and drop this delicious green bomb on you. Everybody knows I can’t get enough of pesto, and this is my latest creation. I made this up a couple of months ago now, and have made it several times since with slightly different variations – the recipe below is the basic plan I had in mind. One thing was the same throughout, and that was the use of sunflower seeds and walnuts as the base nuts. Toasting the sunflower seeds really brings out such a beautiful flavour, you must try it!

ImageToasted Sunflower Pesto

3/4 cup sunflower seeds
3/4 cup walnuts
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 tsp sea salt
3 cloves garlic
3 1/2 cups fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup fresh coriander
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup flax seed oil
1/4 – 1/2 tsp chili flakes

Toast walnuts and sunflower seeds in a pan over low heat for approximately five minutes, until slightly golden and aromatic.

Meanwhile, roughly chop the garlic and throw it in a food processor/blender along with the lemon juice and salt. Blend to combine.

Add toasted walnuts and sunflower seeds, process until well chopped up – I usually keep going until they are the consistency of coarse crumbs.

Add herbs, oil and chili flakes and blend until the desired consistency is reached. If it’s too chunky, add some water or oil a little at a time until it’s smooth enough.

Need I tell you what to do with it next? Eat it on crackers, stir it through pasta, use it in a sandwich, in salad, on tofu, EAT IT ‘TIL IT’S GONE!!!



  1. Johanna GGG says:

    gorgeous colour – wonder if the sunflower seeds contribute – I once tried a sunflower butter cookie that went bright green – sounds v yummy

    1. Isn’t it just? So lovely! How funny – I’ve never really noticed it with sunflower seeds in anything else – I wonder what that’s all about!

      1. Johanna GGG says:

        Since this happened I have noticed it occasionally and if you read about using sunbutter in baking – some sort of chemical reaction I can’t remember – they often say some lemon juice will help stop it going green – I was fascinated by the colour and love sesame seeds but not sunbutter – sadly as I quite fancy more green bakes 🙂

        1. Wow, how interesting! I’ll have to read up on it. I haven’t really used sunbutter in baking before, but I would love to see some green bakes too hehe

  2. Kate says:

    This looks so delicious! Love the idea of using sunflower seeds in pesto. My little ones love pesto, so do I, so I’ll go this a try!

    1. Thanks Kate! It’s just nice to be able to swap the usual nuts for something a bit different sometimes – I think the seeds work really well. I hope you enjoy it 🙂

  3. laurasmess says:

    Yum, this looks absolutely delicious Caeli. I am also a pesto fiend but for some reason I’ve never tried it with sunflower seeds. I happen to have a huge pack in the cupboard right now so I might just try this over the weekend! Yay for the chilli flakes too (everything is better with chilli!) xx

    1. Thanks Laura! Heh – ‘pesto fiend’ – I love it, it’s me to a tee as well! And I know, I just can’t help myself with chilli, it’s always sneaking it’s way into everything I make. I hope you enjoy this one if you give it a go! x

  4. rika@vm says:

    I tried a tasty curry sunflower seed-based pate, but I’ve never used sunflower seeds for sauce or pesto before. I enjoy toasting seeds, including sesame seeds, they bring a very nice toasted flavor. I want some of that lovely toasted sunflower pesto in my sandwiches. I love that you incorporate fresh coriander (one of my favorite herbs). I made walnut pesto before, perhaps I will try this with sunflower seeds, too. Did you use raw and unsalted sunflower seeds? Have a great weekend, Caeli!

    1. Wow, that pate sounds really interesting! I will have to get a bit more experimental and try seeds in other things too. I love the toasted flavour of seeds too, it really is beautiful. Yes, I used raw unsalted sunflower seeds to start with, I think they worked really well. Let me know how you go if you try a sunflower pesto – I’m sure you’ll love it 🙂

  5. This looks awesome. I am a bit lazy with my pesto and I just swap the parmesan out of the regular version with roasted cashews. I am going to try this one on the weekend.

    1. Thanks Cass! I can be like that too – it’s easy to keep going to your regulars sometimes. I feel like I make the same old hummus every week. I hope you enjoy the different flavours in this pesto, you’ll have to let me know what you think 🙂

  6. This looks fantastic! I love toasted sunflower seeds, and I love coriander. Unfortunately, even though I have a huge pesto lover here (he’s not huge, but he loves pesto hugely), I don’t think I’ll be making this, because the whole family – apart from me – hates coriander. I have to make do with throwing it into my own serve, rather than making a meal around it.

    1. Thanks Linda! Too bad about your family hating coriander. When I was younger it definitely wasn’t my favourite, but I’ve grown to appreciate it as I’ve gotten older. It must be frustrating loving something that nobody else enjoys. Perhaps you could make it, tell everybody there’s coriander in it and then keep it all for yourself to enjoy, hehe 🙂

  7. mihl says:

    That looks so good! I love toasted sunflower seeds and they are truely awesome in pesto!

    1. Thanks Mihl! Something about toasting nuts and seeds – the flavour is so yummy!

  8. Sophie33 says:

    This is not only a sunflower pesto, it is also a basil, cilantro walnut pesto! I made it & loved it so much!.i enjoyed it with spelt penne & smoked salmon,…so goooooodddddf! X

    1. Yes – it really packs a few ingredients in, doesn’t it? I’m so glad you enjoyed it – sounds like you found a great way to use it too! x

  9. Corrin Radd says:

    i made this today and ate it on pasta. It was great (I replaced most of the oil with water which is probably blasphemous but it still tasted great).

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