Roasted Red Pepper, Sunflower and Walnut Pesto

The kids and I have been establishing new routines this year. We’ve shed the lazy weekends that used to feel so empty and instead started packing Saturday and Sunday tight with grocery shopping at the good store, cooking, library time, church and family dinner with our extended family. Though I thought the structure of weekend routines would be a burden, it’s really made the weekends feel longer and more fulfilling. I guess it goes to show that change really is good.

Since Sundays seem to be our most packed day, I usually try to make a fast, homemade meal for lunch that can double as lunch for Will during the week. It makes life easier during our early morning rush and also means that we don’t have to rely on sandwiches for school lunch. Variety is a good thing.

This recipe, adapted from Roasted Red Pepper and Walnut “Pesto” in The Food Matters Cookbook, was perfect for that. It takes about five minutes to make. Total. You simply whirl the ingredients in the food processor — garlic first, then with the walnuts and sunflower seeds, then with the basil and red peppers and finally with the olive oil. Season it, stir in the cheese and you are good to go. If you can successfully operate your food processor, you can totally make this.

The flavor of this pesto is tangy, slightly sweet and a little bold. Like stripes with plaid. Toss it with pasta, quinoa or whatever for a simple and easy meal. You could also use it as a sandwich spread or on crostini. Or, hey, spread some on some pizza instead of marinara sauce. Mmm.

This is week three of The Food Matters Project! Get the original recipe at Girlichef. Also, visit The Food Matters Project page to see more posts about this recipe.

Roasted Red Pepper, Sunflower and Walnut Pesto
adapted from The Food Matters Cookbook
Serves: serves 8
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • ½ cup walnuts
  • ½ cup sunflower seeds
  • 7-8 roasted red bell peppers
  • 1 cup fresh basil, optional
  • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • salt and black pepper
  • ½ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  1. Add the garlic to the bowl of a food processor and pulse briefly to break up. Add the walnuts and sunflower seeds to the food processor and pulse until the pieces are even sizes (5-6 times. Add the roasted peppers and basil. Run the food processor and pour in the olive oil in a thin stream until well-combined. Season with salt and pepper and stir in the parmesan. Use with two days or freeze in small portions for later.


  1. says

    I made roasted red pepper pesto a couple of weeks ago, but kept to the traditional pine nuts instead of walnuts. It’s nice to change things up a bit!

  2. says

    Well, you’ve got one up on me…I savor lazy weekends, or at least Sundays. I go crazy if I don’t have my Sunday to finish “weekend stuff” ;). This is a great thing to have ready to go, though! That’s a beautiful bowl of pasta!

  3. says

    Thankfully, I am quite food processor adept. 😛 I love the changes you made to this! The sunflower seeds sound like such an interesting pesto nut. They’re one of the few I’ve never tried…totally need to change that!

    • sarah says

      You should! They are one of my favorites, actually because they have such a mild, smooth flavor — they add nice texture without being overpowering. I had to substitute half in too, because I ran out of walnuts mid-prep. Oops.

    • Sarah W. Caron says

      I have and it’s good that too. But be sure to mix the pesto with HOT pasta and then chill it so that it distributes evenly. Enjoy!

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