Arugula Sunflower Pesto ~ Recipe ReDux

Happy first day of Summer! The return of this beautiful season brings just the beginning of incredibly fresh and local produce. While I’m only getting small clippings of basil from my garden so far, I’ve been lucky enough to receive some of the overflow from a friend’s CSA (what is a CSA?). I even got new vegetables to try—I made garlic shoots last night and they were delicious. Simply wash and sauté in a little olive oil—they were fantastic—but I digress. I am a huge fan of pesto because basil and garlic are among my favorite flavors but this CSA abundance brought some fresh and flavorful arugula. Knowing I wanted to make a pesto for this seedy recipe challenge, I decided to use this peppery green.

Classic basil pesto uses pine nuts. For me, I never have them on hand and they can be pricey so I often use almonds or walnuts instead. Another crunchy favorite is sunflower seeds. Using sunflower seeds incorporates a similar mouth feel with a different (and delicious) dimension of flavor. Besides being a great addition to salads, trail mix and pastas, sunflower seeds are a go-to ingredient when I make pesto. Combing the freshness of the arugula and Summer with the theme of seeds, I present my Arugula Sunflower Pesto and a number of ways you can use it! Enjoy!

 Arugula Sunflower Pesto Salad

Arugula Sunflower Pesto

Makes about 1 cup of pesto


2 ½ cups fresh arugula, washed and dried

3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

½ – 1 clove garlic (I used 1)

¼ cup raw sunflower seeds (+ 1 Tbsp as desired)

Juice of ½ lemon

3 Tbsp water (more as needed)

Salt and pepper, to taste


Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend until as smooth or chunky as desired. If you would like a thinner dressing, add more water one teaspoon at a time and blend.

Make it last: Freeze a portion of the pesto in ice cube trays and then transfer to a freezer bag to make your supply last longer!

Ways to use:

  • Use as a salad dressing! For every 2 cups of greens, add up to 1 Tbsp of pesto. Top with sunflower seeds.
  • Make a chilled pasta salad. Cook the pasta as directed, add vegetables, and toss with the pesto.
  • Spread on crackers or over grilled vegetables.
  • Use as a condiment on wraps and sandwiches.

How else would you use this pesto?

Don’t forget to check out the other Recipe ReDux posts that incorporate seeds by clicking the link below!

5 Responses to “Arugula Sunflower Pesto ~ Recipe ReDux”
  1. I love your idea of using the pesto as a salad dressing! I try to eat very low carb so often use my pesto on zucchini noodles, but I never thought to use it to dress my greens. Great idea!

  2. Loving all these pestos! I will be copying your pesto as a salad dressing idea- How perfect!

  3. graincrazy says:

    Great healthy way to eat salad.Yum!

  4. Serena says:

    I wish I had more basil in my garden too! Never enough basil! Great idea to use sunflower seeds in pesto never thought of that!

  5. Kelly Sloan says:

    I love the pesto on salad! great idea.

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