Simple Spinach Pesto

I have been slightly bored with food lately.

I know. That is totally counterproductive for a food blogger. Especially me, because I adore food. But I feel a little torn because I have been attempting to eat as clean as possible, and still shovel enough food into my system. Jake and I have been working out like crazy the last couple of months. The whole cardio/calorie restricting reached its point a few months ago for me, and just was NOT working. If you are curious about the new workout plan we have been trying you can visit Meltdowns, best friends, and the evil scale here.

Since we have been working out in a completely different way the last month or so, my appetite has reached a completely new level. Jake and I refer to it as “THE HUNGER”. A few hours after every work out-especially weekends-we have been completely famished. And it isn’t for lack of eating. We have just been eating more simply (especially during the week), the old gym rat special- protein and veggies. Which doesn't vary much from my usual diet, but there hasn't been much room for flirty, fun food when we are so busy. Adjusting to a new work out plan, and eating plan has been slightly challenging in an entirely new way. I have been focusing on more protein, less carbs and a controlled amount of fat. Fat is crucial in your diet because it gives the body energy (like those delicious carbs) and they protect your cells.

Not too mention fat is friggin delicious.

Seriously, think about it. Cheese. Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Nuts. Butter.

All of these things make everything taste amazing, because-FAT. But I tend to go overboard on fats, cough cough peanut butter. So I have been working healthy fats into my diet in sneaky little ways. One of my favorite notoriously fatty items?


The spinach pesto is one of my absolute favorites, and I probably make this at least every other week. Mainly because it takes less than five minutes. Actually, I think that is generous, it is probably less than five minutes, but for professionalism’s sake we will call it a quick five.

What I adore about this pesto, is it literally can go with a hundred different dishes. Because the basil is omitted, and the traditional pine nuts are swapped for sunflower seeds, the flavor profile is more subtle lending itself to many outlets. I have slathered this on bread, dolloped it on salmon right after roasting (highly recommended and my latest obsession), tossed with pasta noodles, swirled among vegetables and wrapped tightly in a tortilla. I know you can do that all with the traditional pesto, but this spinach pesto is not overpowering and the perfect accompaniment to any type of dish. It also uses up almost four cups of raw spinach, so if you have any leftover at the end of the week, this is the best way to use it up. This is typically how I always end up with it. Jake and I buy two gigantic containers of spinach a week (we are spinach freaks), and I tend to have a few cups left over on Thursdays, and whip this up to have on hand.

Simple spinach pesto |

Any way I can get more greens into my life…I do.

Feel free to add grated Parmesan cheese if you wish, I just prefer to keep it out for this particular pesto. It appears higher in sodium because I am adding salt, but Parmesan cheese is just as high in sodium. I keep the cheese out because sometimes I like to have a completely plant-based meal. If you would like to use roasted salted sunflower seeds, just taste the pesto after it comes together, then add a tiny amount of salt until you reach the level you would like. I usually purchase everything unsalted because I prefer controlling all the salt levels myself.

Make sure to slather it on everything!


Simple Spinach Pesto

Recipe by Allie Brendel

Creamy, salty, and not too garlicky, this pesto takes five minutes and works perfectly in several dishes. Also, it is nut free, and vegan! So a win for all!

Total time: 5 minutes


  • 1/3 cup unsalted roasted sunflower seeds
  • 1 clove garlic (1 tablespoon)
  • 3 1/2 cups spinach
  • 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Cooking Directions

  1. Pulse the sunflower seeds & garlic in a food processor until coarse crumbs, about 20-30 seconds.
  2. Add 3 ½ cups of spinach pulse, and add olive oil while it is pulsing.
  3. Scrape the sides, add the salt in increments until you reach desired salt level, and blend until smooth.
  4. Serve on flat bread, in sandwiches, in salads, in pasta, on baked salmon.