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Budget Friendly Pesto Pasta without Pine nuts

Budget Friendly Pesto Pasta without Pine nuts


Elle is a huge fan of pre packaged, pesto pasta salad.  She would probably eat it for lunch every day given the chance!  But at around £2 for a small tub it isn’t the most affordable option and also not as healthy as making your own from scratch!

We’ve been meaning to have a go at making our pesto sauce for a while but found it to be quite expensive to make because of the pine nuts which cost around £5 for a small bag in our local supermarket!  Parmesan cheese can also be a little on the pricey side too!  So I got to work online looking for alternatives to the traditional ingredients.  Pecorino is an obvious alternative to parmesan.  It slightly cheaper with a very similar texture and flavour.  The pine nuts were harder to substitute but one option suggested online was sunflower seeds which we found to be a good alternative to the pine nuts.  The sunflower seeds added the much needed texture and a subtle, almost nutty flavour.

As well as creating a delicious, budget friendly lunch option, making this dish together was a great activity to do with my preschooler with lots of learning opportunities!  You can watch our video below to see how much fun we had making this and also Elle’s verdict on the finished dish!

You’ll also find the recipe details below if you’d like to try making it for yourself!

Thanks for stopping by!

Amy x


Budget Pesto Pasta without Pine nuts

Yummy pesto pasta for half the cost of the pre packaged pasta salads! We;ve substituted pine nuts for sunflower seeds to keep the cost down!

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Servings 2
Author Amy Simpson


  • 1 cup Basil leaves
  • 1/2 tsp Garlic puree
  • 1/4 cup Sunflower seeds
  • 1 cup Sunflower oil
  • 4 tbsp Parmesan / Pecorino cheese
  • a squeeze lemon juice (optional)
  • seasoning (salt & pepper)
  • Dried pasta of your choice for 2 people


  1. Boil your pasta of choice for the time stated on the packing in pre salted water.

  2. While your pasta cooks add all other ingedients into a food processor and blitz to the desired consistancy.

  3. Add a squeeze of lemon juice if desired to keep the bright green colour and fresh flavour.

  4. Once the Pasta is cooked drain then add your pesto sauce mixture.

  5. Mix well to coat all the pasta in the pesto sauce.

  6. Leave to cool or serve immediately to enjoy warm.

  7. To serve add some coarsley grated parmesan / pecorino cheese and some sunflower seeds if desired.


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