Creamy Sunflower Pesto

Creamy pesto2

With the holiday weekend coming up, I am headed out of town for a few days. Before I go, I thought a nice versatile recipe would be good for the weekend, a Creamy Sunflower Pesto. Pesto is a nice recipe to keep in mind whenever you are stuck; it makes a quick pasta sauce, it is great on grilled chicken or beef, and it adds great flavor to appetizers.

A true pesto is made with pine nuts, basil, parmesan cheese, and olive oil, but you can swap out almost any of those ingredients and have a delicious dish. You can use almost any nut; I just recommend toasting them before using them to bring out the flavor. If you want to change the cheese, make sure to use a nice salty cheese or it will be completely overshadowed by the herbs and nuts. Generally, I stick to basil since that makes it recognizable as a pesto, but you can use other herbs for a very different flavor.

For this recipe I used a small amount of cream, as it adds a nice smooth, creamy flavor without overpowering the dish. It also makes it ideal as a sauce without needing to add anything else. If you omit the cream, just drizzle in a bit more oil than what is called for in the recipe until the pesto is the correct consistency.

Making pesto is very simple but takes a little time and love.  If you try to go too fast, the oil will separate out and you will have an oily mess. The only trick is to start slowly with the oil, and once everything is moving in the blender, you can start to pour the oil in faster until it is all incorporated.


1/3 c sunflower seeds, shelled

¼ c parmesan cheese

1 bunch basil (about 1 cup of leaves)

¼ tsp salt

4 Tbsp cream

2 Tbsp water

6 Tbsp olive oil


1)      Roast the sunflower seeds until lightly brown and fragrant.

2)      In a blender, mix all the ingredients except the oil.

3)      Scrape down the sides of the blender.

4)      While the blender is on, slowly drizzle in the oil.

5)      Blend until smooth, scraping the sides occasionally.

6)      Serve and enjoy!

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1 comment to Creamy Sunflower Pesto

  • Kim

    Just made this. Love the recipe using sunflower seeds and cream added a nice touch. Froze one batch, and kept the other batch for a sundried tomato pecerino/romano basil breakfast strada

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