Arugula Basil Pesto with Sunflower Seeds and Lemon

Arugula & Basil Pesto with Sunflower Seeds

I so love this time of the year; it’s full of welcome expectations – the year is winding down, and we’re looking forward to the holidays as we settle into the cold weather.
With all the posts I’ve read this week on gratitude and thanksgiving, I can’t help but be optimistic about Christmas, plus it’s my favourite holiday.
Sure, the days are dark and the nights are long, and the rain is relentless, still there’s that hint of merriness in the air.
I got caught in a miserable angry downpour a few nights ago, and just when I thought I couldn’t take it anymore, I look up and suddenly noticed the trees twinkling with a thousand colourful lights, and in that moment, it felt like they were there for this particular reason; to bring cheer.


The nights are long – it’s dark by the time I get home and I’m usually cold, tired and hungry and the last thing I want to do is cook. Yet, all I want at that moment is food, something cheerful and comforting.

I think I’ve perfected my routine; I’m usually seated to dinner in about thirty minutes after I get home. It’s especially helpful when I have part of my dinner already prepared.
These pesto sauces are convenient and make my life so easy when I have them on hand; they’re easy to prepare, tasty and keep well.

They go with a myriad of dishes, pasta, mashed/stuffed potatoes, pizza, roasted vegetables, sandwiches, etc.

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This arugula basil pesto with sunflower seeds and lemon was a no brainer; I had arugula leaves leftover from a salad, and basil that needed to be used up. I whirled them together with some sunflower seeds and a splash lemon and got this bright zesty and peppery paste.
The lemon juice and zest gives the leaves a refreshing herby zing

Stored in an airtight jar and covered in a thin layer of olive oil, it’ll keep in the fridge for up to a week.
For a quick no-fuss dinner, it’s tossed with pasta and a side of roasted vegetables.
On other evenings it’s slathered on a sandwich or mixed into stuffed baked potatoes, or couscous or quinoa.

This pesto will liven up every meal it touches, giving it a vibrant kick.
It’s just how I like my dinner; simple, hearty and cheerful perfect for those dark, cold rainy evenings, and another reason to love this time of the year.

IMG_3775 Arugula & Basil Pesto with Sunflower Seeds


Arugula Basil Pesto with Sunflower Seeds and Lemon


  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds, toasted
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled (roast garlic for a milder taste)
  • 1 tablespoon oil-packed sundried tomatoes
  • 2 cups fresh arugula leaves, packed
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves, packed
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon crushed pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon almond butter
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 3/4 – 1 cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt


  • Using a food processor, pulse sunflower seeds, garlic and sundried tomatoes until finely chopped
  • Add the arugula, basil, lemon zest, pepper, nutmeg and almond butter and process
  • Add in the lemon juice and gradually drizzle in olive oil until desired consistency is reached, and all the ingredients are well combined, make it as smooth or as coarse as you want it
  • Add the ground pepper and salt to taste
  • Toss with your favourite pasta and enjoy!



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