My recipe in a jar with a spoon shot from above

A Vibrant and Versatile Arugula Sunflower Seed Pesto Recipe

When you think of a pesto recipe you’re probably thinking of a yummy green sauce made with basil, oil, pine nuts, and Parm. And you’d be totally right. Pesto is the absolute jam on so many things. It’s perfection as a pasta sauce, a bread schmear, or as a roasted veggie dip. Heck you’ll catch me just eating spoonfuls of the stuff straight outta the jar, no lie.

Why are we going to mess with a good thing?! BECAUSE we get to make another good thing by putting a spin on the traditional pesto recipe! I first stumbled across this idea while taking a bread baking class with Tara Jensen. She had us make pesto with ramps that we then folded into our sourdough… which turned out heavenly. If you LOVE bread she’s a baker/teacher you’ll want to check out ASAP. Anyhow, in this class there were several mentions of different combos for making pesto and my little mind was blown. I’m always up for taking something that’s tried and true and messing around with it!

Arugula + Sunflower Seed Pesto

5 from 1 vote
Recipe by Susanna Grace Course: SauceCuisine: ItalianDifficulty: Easy


Prep time




Total time



A fun spin on a classic! This pesto is perfect as a spread, sauce, or dip. Creamy and peppery and full of texture. Measured by the handfuls and blended for just a few. It doesn’t get easier than this pesto recipe!


  • 2 large handfuls 2 Arugula

  • 1 handful 1 Sunflower seeds, roasted

  • 1 handful 1 Parm cheese

  • 1 1 Lemon, juiced

  • 1 1 Garlic clove, minced

  • pinch S+P

  • pinch Red Pepper Flakes

  • 1/3 cup 1/3 Extra Virgin Olive Oil, or regular Olive Oil


  • Pull out that blender or food processor or mortar and pestle. Then start by adding your arugula.
  • Right on top you’ll add those sunflower seeds and the Parm.
  • Followed by garlic, salt and pepper, and red pepper flakes.
  • And it all comes together with that olive oil you’ll be pouring next.
  • Now blend, stopping once or twice to scrape down the edges with a spatula or spoon so that everything can get nice and creamy. If necessary, add a touch more oil to incorporate.
  • Pour into an air tight container, or use immediately.

Recipe Video


  • Serving sizes for this were hard to determine- so I went with a pasta measurement for reference! This should nicely coat, with extra to spare, 6 services of pasta. You’ll get a whole lot more out of this as a schmear or veggie dip though!
  • On the sunflower seeds. I prefer to use roasted. However, any sunflower seed with do. If you’re using a salted seed go easier on the added salt. You can always stir in a bit more at the end.
  • Feel free to skip the garlic and red pepper flakes if you don’t have them or simply don’t want them. The pesto still tastes pretty amazing without these ingredients added in. I, however, dig the flavor they provide.
  • Store in an air tight container in the fridge and use within 3 days for best results.
  • Please note the nutritional information below was calculated using a calculator designed by: Verywell Fit. This information is accurate to the best of my knowledge, but should not be taken as medical advice 🙂 

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Nutrition Facts

6 servings per container


  • Amount Per Serving% Daily Value *
  • Total Fat 23.3g 36%
    • Saturated Fat 7.3g 37%
  • Cholesterol 27mg 9%
  • Sodium 354mg 15%
  • Amount Per Serving% Daily Value *
  • Potassium 139mg 4%
  • Total Carbohydrate 3.9g 2%
    • Dietary Fiber 1.1g 5%
    • Sugars .7g
  • Protein 14.2g 29%
  • Calcium 29%
  • Iron 4%

* The % Daily Value tells you how much a nutrient in a serving of food contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.

I Own This One!
Airtight Glass Canisters (Set of 6 with Lids-17oz) Airtight Glass Canisters (Set of 6 with Lids-17oz)

I've use these to make homemade crème fraîche, store pestos, house garlic confit, and so much more. Primarily these are being used in my kitchen for sauces, dips, and quick pickles. Perfect to take to a summer BBQ or to nestle into a bowl of tortilla chips. Think next level guac baby.

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04/04/2024 01:29 am GMT

Origins of Pesto

To think that this heavenly blend was originally used to cover up unpleasant aromas in spoiling food… I would have never guessed. While aromatic herbs (like basil) were used by all social classes in Italy, it was the use of herbs and garlic that the less fortunate would combine in order to make meals edible. A practice dating back to the Middle Ages and probably far-far beyond.

The Leguria region of Italy is widely credited as the birth place of the beloved pesto recipe which gained popularity in the 19th century. You’ll want to click here for a complete pesto rabbit hole experience.

Variations of Pesto

Really, any aromatic tender green can be used. Think: baby kale, mint, carrot tops, radish greens and so on. Playing around with citrus immediately changes the entire dynamic of this sauce. How about charred lemon or burnt orange for a fun twist?! And of course, you’ll want to explore with the hard cheeses and seed/nut combos. Everything from walnuts to pumpkin seeds and Pecorino to Asiago. I’m thinking you’re probably thinking at this point. Of how many fun, seasonal combos you can create with just a few handfuls and a blender. Am I right or am I right?

I Own This One!
Ninja Master Prep Professional Ninja Master Prep Professional

This was a gift. That turned out to be one of those appliance I didn't realize I'd use ALL THE TIME. *Disclaimer, I don't yet own a food processor* The motor portion is actually transferrable and sits on top of each container. It comes with blades and lids for storage too. From salsas to pestos to slushies to marinades, this trio has worked wonders in my kitchen. Have I mentioned it's going on 10 years strong at this point?! With no problems? There's something to be said for practicality meeting longevity if you ask me!

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And while we’re thinking all things pesto recipe, let’s talk about how this adds the perfect finishing drizzle to my Hummer Platter. Or the perfect dip for my Herb Roasted Potatoes. Or how about just spreading over hunks of bakery fresh bread while you sip on my Charred Limoncello Fizz? Hey. You get to pick the winning combo here. Whatever it is- you’ve got my full support!

Let Me Know!

What green do you think you’ll try first? A classic basil? Or maybe my arugula sunflower seed pesto recipe? I’d love to know what types of greens, nuts, citrus and cheeses you think would pair best, so let me know down below!

While you’re at the sharing and commenting, please Save to Pinterest or Share on Facebook. I need all the support I can get to keep on growing this dream of mine. A place where practical beats perfect- and simple, delicious food is a lifestyle. A place where together, we can begin filling homes and tables with joy.

Hugs, because handshakes are awkward~


  1. Micaela Giles

    This looks amazing! 🤤👌🏼

  2. Samantha Denefe

    Yes! A recipe to use up all the arugula in my garden.

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