Yield: about 6-8 servings


  • ½ cup raw sunflower seeds
  • 2 cloves garlic, peel intact
  • 2 cups packed chopped kale leaves
  • 1 cup packed fresh basil leaves
  • 1½ oz. (¾ c.) Parmesan cheese, grated, plus more for serving
  • ½ – 1 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1/3 – ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 lb. pasta, such as linguine (I use whole wheat) 
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  • step 1: HideShow Images

    In a medium skillet over medium heat, warm the sunflower seeds, stirring occasionally until lightly toasted, about 5 minutes. Remove to a bowl and set aside. Return the pan to the burner. Place the garlic cloves in the pan and toast until lightly browned, turning as needed so all sides have been toasted.  Remove from the heat. Peel when cool.

  • step 2: HideShow Images

    In the bowl of a food processor, combine the kale, basil, sunflower seeds, toasted garlic, Parmesan and red pepper flakes. Pulse until finely ground, scraping down the bowl as needed. With the processor running, add the olive oil in a steady stream through the feed tube until incorporated. Transfer to a bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

  • step 3: HideShow Images

    Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to boil. Add the pasta to the pot and cook according to the package directions until al dente. Drain, reserving ¾ cup of the pasta water.

  • step 4: HideShow Images

    Return the pasta to the pot. Stir a few tablespoons of the reserved pasta water to the pesto to loosen it, then stir the pesto into the pasta. Add the remaining reserved pasta water as needed to adjust consistency. If needed, season with salt and pepper to taste.