Skip to: Content
Skip to: Site Navigation
Skip to: Search

Cilantro sunflower seed pesto

Homemade pesto comes together in minutes, and is versatile enough to work with pasta, eggs, chips, or sandwiches.

By In Praise of Leftovers / June 27, 2013

Pesto makes a simple sauce that can be used on everything from sandwiches to pasta to toppings for grilled meat.

In Praise of Leftovers


Sure enough, it's absolutely pouring rain on the kids' first day of summer, and I'm going a little nuts. Loretta and the dog are following me around the house like shadows, there have been a few sibling tiffs, the house is already a disaster (more time at home equals more mess), and the sunny glow of yesterday's "School's Out!" celebration is fading a bit.

Skip to next paragraph

In Praise of Leftovers

Sarah Murphy-Kangas is a cook, writer, mother, teacher, and group facilitator. She lives with her family in Seattle, Washington. She started her blog, In Praise of Leftovers, as a way to share her kitchen exploits with friends and family and further explore her obsession with food. Her favorite challenge is to make something out of nothing.

Recent posts

Our plans of strawberry picking disappeared with the rain. I'm disappointed and found I was looking forward to the kitchen tasks – washing, stemming, freezing, jam-making. So I found something else to relieve my get-in-the-kichen itch. If I examine my fridge for more than one second, there's always something that can be done.

In this case, Yancey bought a giant bag of washed cilantro for my taco birthday party. It was taking up valuable real estate and I'd be hard-pressed to use it up before it turns. Except if I get my food processor out and transform it into pesto. Now it's all packed in one jam jar and ready to use.

And so many uses! Dalloped on nachos or burritos or spread on a sandwich or omelet. Or mixed it with a little sour cream or yogurt for dip, adding a bit of lime and more salt. Or toss it with hot pasta, a little bit of cream, put the pasta in a baking dish, top with sharp cheddar and tortilla chips, and broil it. Yum.

And whatever you do, don't go buy pine nuts. I haven't purchased them in years since the price went up so much. Walnuts are my favorite for pesto, but I really liked the mild nuttiness of sunflower seeds. Despite the rain today, I really do feel the bounty coming on. Stay tuned for more 'fridge cleaning.

Cilantro sunflower seed pesto
Pesto means "to pound, to crush." It doesn't mean basil sauce! Summertime is perfect for making pesto out of spinach, parsley (and, of course, basil). Any semi-hard cheese and most nuts work beautifully. 

6-8 cups washed and dried cilantro with stems 

1 large garlic clove

Coarse salt to taste (I use quite a bit since undersalted pesto is always disappointing)

1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds

1/2 cup grated Parmesan or sharp white cheddar or a mixture (as I used)

1/4 cup olive oil 

1. Combine all ingredients except for olive oil in the bowl of a food processor. Add olive oil through the feeding tube in a stream until ingredients have emulsified.

2. Add more of anything to taste. Will keep in the fridge for quite a while.

Related post on In Praise of Leftovers: Peanut Butter Hummus

The Christian Science Monitor has assembled a diverse group of food bloggers. Our guest bloggers are not employed or directed by The Monitor and the views expressed are the bloggers' own and they are responsible for the content of their blogs and their recipes. All readers are free to make ingredient substitutions to satisfy their dietary preferences, including not using wine (or substituting cooking wine) when a recipe calls for it. To contact us about a blogger, click here.


  • Weekly review of global news and ideas
  • Balanced, insightful and trustworthy
  • Subscribe in print or digital

Special Offer


Doing Good


What happens when ordinary people decide to pay it forward? Extraordinary change...

Danny Bent poses at the starting line of the Boston Marathon in Hopkinton, Mass.

After the Boston Marathon bombings, Danny Bent took on a cross-country challenge

The athlete-adventurer co-founded a relay run called One Run for Boston that started in Los Angeles and ended at the marathon finish line to raise funds for victims.

Become a fan! Follow us! Google+ YouTube See our feeds!