Basil Pesto with Sunflower Seeds

June 29, 2014

20140622_132738 My basil plant is prolifically producing and I love, love, love the fact that it has tripled in size in this beautiful Vancouver weather. What better way to use basil than to turn it into an all-purpose pesto! You guys are probably used to pesto made with basil and pine nuts but really, pesto can be a combination of any greens/herbs/fruits, nuts, lemon juice, olive oil and grated Parmesan. After all, pesto  just means paste in Italian. With the price of pine nuts going off the roof lately, this is a basil pesto that uses sunflower seeds. If I were you, I’d toast the seeds until they are slightly brown and fragrant but feel free to skip the roasting, if you’re feeling lazy. I don’t like my pesto to be emulsified. It’s a state you’d get if you blitz all the ingredients into a blender. The combination of lemon juice and all the other ingredients turns the paste into a light green cream and I hate that. I want my basil pesto to be a fluid sauce, glistening with oil and with all the finely chopped ingredients visible as you run your spoon in it.  This is my recipe for pesto. 🙂


Basil Pesto with Sunflower Seeds

makes 500ml of pesto


  1. Roast the sunflower seeds on a pan and let it cool.
  2. In a food processor, add sunflower seeds, salt and pepper and blitz until finely the sunflower seeds are grounded. Pour the grounded seeds out into a large bowl.
  3. Add basil leaves, garlic and lemon juice into the food processor and blitz until all the leaves are chopped up too. Pour the green mixture into the same bowl as the nuts.
  4. Time to add the rest of the ingredient into the bowl and mix well. Adjust to taste with more salt, pepper or lemon juice, I was happy with this flavour balance for my pesto.
  5. This recipe makes about 500 ml of pesto, you can freeze it for up to 3-4 months or it will keep in the fridge well for up to a week.


Now, add that over pasta or over a nicely bbq-ed piece of fish, chicken or even steak. The only limit is your imagination.

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