Quick & Healthy: Sunflower Seed Spinach Pesto over Grilled Chicken

Quick and Healthy Sunflower Seed Pesto Sauce over Grilled Chicken

Spring is in the air, and that means one thing to me: time to break out the grill.  There is just something about cooking on the grill that invokes a feeling of immediate relaxation.  And that’s a welcome feeling after a winter spent standing over the stove braising meats and stirring stews.

I prefer to keep things simple when I plan to cook on the grill.  Just choose the grilling subject (meat or vegetable), add a marinade or sauce, and put it on a hot grill.  Dinner doesn’t get easier than that.

Pesto sauce is one of the most versatile and flavorful sauces I make.  It’s one of my favorite flavor combinations to enjoy during the warmer months.  So fresh and savory, it’s equally delicious drizzled over grilled chicken or stirred into pasta.  And talk about easy – just put a few ingredients into the food processor and about 90 seconds later it’s done.

This recipe for pesto sauce may be a little different than you’d expect.  I use spinach, sunflower seeds, and fresh garlic, because those ingredients are not only great for your health, but relatively inexpensive as well.  Spinach is packed with vitamins and minerals like vitamins A, C & K.  And sunflower seeds bring high amounts of vitamins E, B6, and Thiamin to your plate.

Look at that color!  Doesn’t that scream SUMMERTIME?  This sunflower seed and spinach pesto sauce is thick and rich, a little goes a long way.  This recipe makes enough for more than one meal.  So enjoy it the next day as a spread for your sandwich, and again later in the week as a pasta sauce.  Make it once and eat it all week – gotta love that!

Did I mention that this meal is gluten free, sugar free, and low carb?

Quick & Healthy: Spinach Sunflower Seed Pesto Sauce 

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup packed baby spinach leaves
1/3 cup raw sunflower seeds
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic

Rinse chicken breasts with water, pat dry and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.  Cook on a hot grill until done.

Meanwhile, place remaining ingredients into the bowl of a food processor or blender.  Process until creamy and smooth.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Spoon over cooked chicken breasts.  Serve immediately.

Store leftover pesto sauce in an airtight container for up to three days.

Recipe adapted from Family Fresh Cooking

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  1. says

    I also love to grill ~ need to get going on that again soon! Love your adaptation of my spinach pesto recipe. I need to try it with the sunflower seeds too!

  2. says

    What a great recipe! We always buy the colossal bag of spinach at Costco and can never seem to use it up, despite our family being big spinach fans. This would be a wonderfully, economical pesto idea. Glad I happened upon this on Pinterest. Love your blog!

    • says

      Yes, I always end up wasting a little of those big Costco bags too! But no more! This pesto is so versatile, I’ll bet you’ll come up with a few new ways to eat it too. So glad you found me through Pinterest!

  3. Sarah says

    Yummy yummy, can’t wait to start making dishes like this when I begin my culinary degree pursuit at Kendall College next semester. I’m so excited. Thanks for sharing, btw…love your recipes.

  4. says

    I beg your pardon but this recipe is not dairy-free as stated unless you take out the parmesan cheese.

    • says

      Thank you so much for pointing that out! I guess I’m so used to writing that in my posts that I just wasn’t thinking. I’m sorry if I misled anyone!