Become a Member

Get access to more than 30 brands, premium video, exclusive content, events, mapping, and more.

Already have an account? Sign In

Become a Member

Get access to more than 30 brands, premium video, exclusive content, events, mapping, and more.

Already have an account? Sign In

Brands

Recipes

This Sunflower Seed Pesto Pasta Brings the Summer Season to Cold Days

It's packed with nutrients and flavor.

Lock Icon

Become a member to unlock this story and receive other great perks.

Already have an Outside Account? Sign in

Outside+ Logo

All-Access
Intro Offer
$3.99 / month*

  • A $500 value with everything in the Print + Digital Plan plus 25+ benefits including:
  • Member-only content on all publications in the Outside network like Vegetarian Times, Clean Eating, Yoga Journal, Outside and more
  • Outside Learn, our new online education hub loaded with more than 2,000 videos across 450 lessons
  • Exclusive yoga sequences from top teachers
  • More than 100 diet-specific meal plans
  • Outside Watch Shows, Films, and documentaries
  • Annual subscription to Outside magazine
Join Outside+
Yoga Journal

Digital + Print
Intro Offer
$2.99 / month*

  • Annual subscription to Yoga Journal magazine
  • Access to all member-exclusive content on YogaJournal.com
  • Ad-free access to YogaJournal.com
Join Yoga Journal

*Outside memberships are billed annually. Print subscriptions available to U.S. residents only. You may cancel your membership at anytime, but no refunds will be issued for payments already made. Upon cancellation, you will have access to your membership through the end of your paid year. More Details

When you think of a gorgeous, vibrant green pesto, you think of a few key ingredients: Leafy basil, a heaping dose of olive oil, fragrant garlic, savory parmesan and crunchy pine nuts. But who says pine nuts have to be included in a good pesto? We’ve decided to change things up and create a pasta sauce that’s just as nutty, but with extra health benefits. And once you try this Sunflower Seed Pesto & Veg Pasta, you might not want to go back to pine nuts in your pesto.

Sunflower seeds are a small-but-mighty ingredient. They’re very nutrient-dense, delivering a powerful (and highly beneficial) combination of vitamins, minerals and hunger-satisfying extras. Each seed contains polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, protein, fiber, folate, vitamins E and B6, copper, zinc, manganese – and the list doesn’t end there. Sprinkling some over the top of your pasta, or incorporating them into the sauce as we’ve done here, can make your meal more nutrient-rich too.

This pretty-as-a-picture pasta dish is beefed up with fibrous zucchini, asparagus and tomatoes and served with a nutty sunflower seed pesto. Together, all of these ingredients create a meal that’s as filling as it is nutritionally dense. All of the fiber in the veggies included will slow your digestion and help you stay satiated well after you’ve cleared away the plates. And you can’t overlook the benefits of those tiny sunflower seeds. Just 1 ounce of these seeds delivers 3 grams of fiber and 5.5 grams of protein – and we’re using more than 1 ounce to create this pasta’s pesto sauce alone.

Oh, and did we mention it’s veg-friendly? If you’re trying to eat more plant-based meals, this vegetarian recipe is a great place to start.

Sunflower Seed Pesto & Veg Pasta

Servings
4
Duration
40 min

Ingredients

Pesto

  • 1 1⁄2 cups stemmed and chopped kale
  • 1 cup fresh basil, stems removed
  • 3⁄4 cup unsalted roasted sunflower seeds
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 3 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1⁄4 tsp each sea salt and red pepper flakes
  • 1⁄3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Pasta

  • 12 oz whole-wheat or gluten-free pasta
  • 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1⁄2 white onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 small zucchini, sliced into half-moons
  • 1⁄2 bunch asparagus, chopped into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • sunflower seeds and basil for garnish

Preparation

  1. Make pesto: To a food processor, add all pesto ingredients except oil. Pulse 5 to 6 times to break up. Drizzle in oil while continuing to pulse, until the mixture is broken up into fine pieces but not completely smooth.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to boil and cook pasta according to package directions.
  3. In a medium skillet on medium, heat remaining oil. Add onion and cook for 4 minutes, until soft and beginning to brown. Increase heat to medium-high and add zucchini and asparagus. Sauté for 2 minutes, stirring. Add tomatoes and cook for another 2 minutes.
  4. Drain pasta and toss with pesto. Stir in sautéed vegetables. Garnish with additional sunflower seeds and basil, if using.

Nutrition Information

  • Serving Size ¼ of recipe
  • Calories 682
  • Carbohydrate Content 76 g
  • Cholesterol Content 0 mg
  • Fat Content 36 g
  • Fiber Content 13 g
  • Protein Content 23 g
  • Saturated Fat Content 5 g
  • Sodium Content 141 mg
  • Sugar Content 6 g
  • Monounsaturated Fat Content 19 g
  • Polyunsaturated Fat Content 11 g