Mariela Alvarez Toro

Sunflower Seed Risotto

Mariela Alvarez Toro
Sunflower Seed Risotto

Sarah Britton is the queen of food blogging. It was her blog that inspired me to start Tasty Plan six years ago. (!!!) Last February, I got to spend an evening with her at the NYC launch of her beautiful new book. Naturally Nourished is a clear reflection of Sarah- warm, friendly, and just outright lovely. All the recipes in this book use ingredients you can easily get at your supermarket – no bee pollen or spirulina in sight! The cookbook is, not surprisingly, filled to the brim with scrumptious salads and decadent treats - this is a bookshelf must have.  

After leafing through the cookbook from cover to cover, I couldn’t decide on a recipe that singlehandedly best represented the book mainly because they all look so good. The Grilled Caesar Salad looked scrummy and the Ginger Lemon Split-pea Soup, decadent. After much internal battling, I settled on the Surprising Sunflower Seed Risotto as the most unexpected, brilliant recipe of them all – I had to try it and share it with you immediately.   

I had a sunflower seed risotto once before at Blue Hill at Stone Barns, a ridiculously good restaurant in upstate New York. My memory of that dish was blurred by the other 25 dishes that came before and after it, but I do remember the texture as unique and the taste spectacular – scrumptious, earthy, and nutty. That risotto was unlike any other risotto I have ever tasted. When I found this recipe in Sarah’s book, I became overwhelmed with joy. I was simultaneously excited to replicate a dish I had thought of as unachievable and skeptical about how easy the recipe seemed. The ingredients list was short (sunflower seeds, onions, garlic, and broth) and the steps easy to follow (soak, cook, devour).

In Sarah’s own words, this risotto is “truly delicious and deeply satisfying.” It is unexpected, untraditional, yet totally addictive. Every bite is toothsome and rich.

There are two key steps in making this sunflower seed risotto: (1) soaking the seed prior to cooking and (2) puree a third of the seeds into a creamy sauce. The first step makes the sunflower seeds tender, minimizing the overall cooking time. The sauce adds richness, removing the need for cream or butter. Because this recipe is timeless and can versatile-  I recommend you make it with peas in the spring, roasted tomatoes in the summer, squash in the Fall, and roasted cauliflower in the winter. The variations are endless. I paired it with ramps and enoki mushrooms, an earthy, springtime flavor combination I can’t seem to get enough of right now.

Make it often and devour regularly.


Sunflower Seed Risotto


Get Started

Food processor

1 heavy pot

1 cat iron skillet



  • 2 ½ cups raw, unsalted, sunflower seeds
  • 2 tablespoons sea salt, plus more to taste
  • 2 medium yellow onions
  • 5 garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil, divided
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 bunch ramps, or green onions stems removed
  • 1 big handful mushrooms, such as enoki
  • sesame seeds to taste


Let’s Cook

  1. Soak the sunflower seeds in enough water to fully cover by 3-4 inches for 8-10 hours.
  2. When ready to start cooking, drain the sunflower seeds.
  3. Place 1 cup of the soaked sunflower seeds in the bowl of a food processor. Add 1 cup of water and puree until smooth. Set aside.
  4. Dice the onions and mince the garlic.
  5. Add the coconut oil into a heavy pot, such as a Le Creuset. Heat through for a couple of minutes, then add the onions, garlic, and a pinch of salt. Cook, tossing frequently over medium heat until translucent.
  6. Add the remaining soaked sunflower seeds into the pot with the onions with the vegetable broth. Cook, covered for 20-30 minutes, or until sunflower seeds are al dente and most of the liquid has been absorbed.
  7. Add in the pureed sunflowers into the pot and stir until well incorporated.
  8. Place the cast iron skillet over high heat. Add a tablespoon of the coconut oil and heat through for a couple of minutes.
  9. Add the ramps and the mushrooms. Cook tossing occasionally until tender and crispy at the edges.
  10. To serve, scoop the risotto into bowls and top with the ramps and mushrooms. Sprinkle sea salt and sesame seeds to taste and eat immediately.