Sprouted sunflower seed and basil pesto

Fresh basil, watercress, and sprouted sunflower seed pesto. (c) viktorija | This Honest Food

Few classic sauces offer the bright flavors and ease of preparation that a pesto delivers, perfumed with garlic, fresh basil with its hints of anise and mint, and in this version, the addition of peppery watercress. But watercress isn’t the only surprise in this Honest version.

Traditional pine nuts have been upgraded to sprouted sunflower seeds for their toothy texture, which you can find here. Sprouting seeds make the nutrients more bioavailable, easier to digest for some, and can partially disarm the seeds’ natural defense mechanisms (who wants to be digested, right?) that can bind with minerals during digestion, like the magnesium found in the seeds. In other words, your body will have an easier time absorbing all of the good stuff you’re about to eat when seeds are soaked and sprouted.

You can play with the consistency of your pesto by adjusting the amount of extra virgin olive oil. Less oil produces a spreadable pesto, perfect for slathering over wedges of freshly cut cucumber. More oil will create a saucy pesto that glides effortlessly over, under, through, and all around piles of curly roasted zoodles.

Sprouted sunflower seed and basil pesto
Prep time
Total time
Soy-free, Gluten-free, Egg/Nut/Dairy-free
Recipe type: Sauce
Serves: 1 cup
  • 2 garlic cloves, smashed, peeled
  • 1/2 cup sprouted sunflower seeds
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves, loosely packed
  • 1 cup fresh watercress or arugula, loosely packed
  • 1 oil-packed anchovy fillet (optional)
  • zest and juice of 1 small lemon
  • 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  1. In the bowl of a food processor pulse together garlic, sunflower seeds, basil, watercress, anchovy, and lemon until coarsely chopped.
  2. With the food processor running, stream in olive oil until desired consistency is reached. For a thicker pesto, stream in less oil; for a thinner pesto, add additional oil.
  3. Season with salt and pepper to taste; use immediately or cover and refrigerate up to 24 hours.
Pesto will keep for up to 2 days refrigerated, however the herbs and greens will begin to oxidize and turn brown after 24 hours.



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