Batter Licker

April 13, 2011

parsley, almond and sunflower seed pesto

Whether you count yourself among those who work hard or hardly work in the kitchen, a fresh pesto sauce that comes together after one minute of chopping and one minute of blending is something you have no excuse not to make.

Pesto is not only among the easiest things to make, but the homemade variety made with a fragrant bunch of fresh herbs results in unbeatable flavor at a fraction of the store-bought price. With basil and other spring herbs showing up at the market, now is the time to pull out that food processor and blend away.

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What I love most about pesto, beyond its fresh flavor and minimalist prep time, is its unlimited versatility. Whether slathered on a sandwich or a pizza, tossed with roasted potatoes or fresh veggies, or mixed into a simple pasta dish, pesto adds a little something that elevates these simple dishes. But pesto’s versatility extends beyond its uses to the ingredients themselves.

On this occasion, I deviated from the traditional basil and pine nut-based pesto (which I’ve been known to turn into a creamy pesto sauce from time to time), and decided to use Italian parsley with creamy almonds and nutty sunflower seeds. While the almonds and seeds are a great alternative to those who think pine nuts taste like soap, fresh and lemony parsley was also a nice change from the usual basil flavor. At the same time, the garlic and parmesan ensured that this sauce retained some of the traditional pesto flavors I have grown to appreciate.

Parsley, Almond and Sunflower Seed Pesto
Makes about 1 cup

Use this pesto on my Collard Greens, Black Beans and Potato Pizza (recipe coming soon!), or try it with pasta, bruschetta, salads, sandwiches or your other favorites!

Parsley can be swapped out for basil or another herb of your choosing. Feel free to use just almonds, just sunflower seeds, or substitute other nuts (walnuts, anyone?). And pecorino romano can be used as a cheaper replacement for parmesan.

1 bunch parsley, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 c. raw almonds
1/4 c. raw sunflower seeds
1/2 c. parmesan, grated
about 1/2 c. olive oil

In a food processor, pulse parsley, garlic, almonds, sunflower seeds, and parmesan until crumbly. Continue to blend while slowly adding olive oil until pesto develops a texture slightly runnier than a paste.

Do ahead: Stored in an airtight, refrigerated container, and covered with a thin layer of olive oil, pesto will keep for up to 5 days. Or pour into ice cube trays, allow to freeze, and transfer to freezer bags to store for a few months.


  1. I love making home made pesto. I like throwing in a few pumpkin seeds to give it a little twist. I also notice that the quality of the olive oil makes a big difference.

    Comment by France @beyondthepeel — April 14, 2011 @ 4:30 pm

  2. Pumpkin seeds sound like a great idea! I’ll have to try those sometime. And I agree – high quality extra virgin olive oil makes for a better pesto, especially given all the raw and fresh ingredients.

    Comment by Kristen — April 15, 2011 @ 10:37 am

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