Whether your kids have nut allergies, or your school is nut-free, this easy lunchtime nut-free basil pesto pasta dish is a winner. Made with sunflower seeds instead of pine nuts, it’s a delicious and allergy-friendly addition to the lunch menu.

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
Serves 4

Ingredients for Nut-Free Basil Pesto Pasta:

1 cup packed fresh basil leaves
1/3 cup hulled roasted sunflower seeds
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
Kosher salt
1 pound fresh pasta
1 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
Parmesan cheese


1. Place the basil, sunflower seeds, cheese, and garlic in the bowl of a food processor. Process until the ingredients are well chopped, about 2 minutes.

2. Add the oil and process for another minute, or until smooth. Add salt to taste. For a smoother texture, add a little extra olive oil.

3. Prepare the pasta according to the package directions. Drain, reserve some of the pasta water, and set aside.

4. Add the cooked pasta back to the empty pot and toss with the pesto and cherry tomatoes. Add a tablespoon or two of the reserved pasta water.

5. Serve topped with freshly grated parmesan cheese.


Reprinted from THE 52 NEW FOODS CHALLENGE: A Family Cooking Adventure for Each Week of the Year, with 150 recipes. Reprinted by arrangement with Avery, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. Copyright © 2014 by Jennifer Tyler Lee.

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