Dairy-Free, Nut-Free Sunflower Pesto

This fresh pesto is an easy and delicious allergy-friendly adaptation of a summer classic.

sunflower pesto on pasta

Serve it over gluten-free pasta for a light and satisfying switch from red sauce. This recipe ups the protein with the addition of extra sunflower seeds, making it a darker color than traditional pesto. If nuts are tolerated, you can use pine nuts (traditional), walnuts or almonds instead of the sunflower seeds.



2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
½ cup shelled unsalted sunflower seeds (raw or toasted) or nuts of choice (if tolerated)
¼ cup coconut oil + 2 tablespoons olive oil or oil of choice
1 clove garlic or ½ teaspoon gluten-free asafoetida
1 teaspoon lemon juice
½ teaspoon salt 
½ teaspoon pepper
1-2 tablespoons water, as needed
Dairy-free Parmesan cheese or low-fat grated cheese of choice, optional
Sprigs of fresh basil


1. Combine basil, sunflower seeds, oil, garlic, lemon juice, salt and pepper in a food processor. Pulse until leaves are incorporated into mixture and seeds are ground. Add water a tablespoon at a time, if needed, to help mix ingredients.

2. Serve immediately over your favorite gluten-free spaghetti or noodles. Garnish with sweet peppers, cucumbers and fresh basil. Top with grated cheese of choice.

Each ¼ cup serving contains 286 calories, 30g total fat, 14g saturated fat,?0g trans fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 292mg sodium,?4g total carbohydrate, 2g fiber, 3g protein.? 

TIP Pesto will darken naturally if allowed to stand too long or when kept in the refrigerator. Reduce this oxidation by storing it in a glass jar with a thin layer of oil over the pesto.

Recipe by Living Without’s test kitchen director Madalene Rhyand.

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