Sunflower seeds are more often than not an absent-minded snack, a relic of crunchy granola days. But they could be so much more! When smashed open, turns out that they carry all the same creamy qualities of pine nuts — when toasted or roasted and served atop a salad or side dish, they add nutty crunch you never thought you needed.

Read on, for recipes starring sunflower seeds, and give them a makeover in your kitchen.

Sunflower Seed-Crusted Pork Paillards With Cilantro Pesto, above. If you’re not one for bread crumbs, blitzing seeds or nuts can give you a nice, crunchy breading. Smash pork cutlets thin, so that they cook quickly without burning the nutty coating, then serve with a creamy cilantro sauce starring — what else — sunflower seeds!



(Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post; food styling by Bonnie S. Benwick/The Washington Post)

Sunflower Seed Pesto Pasta. For a more classic pesto, try this sunflower-arugula version served with your favorite pasta. Arugula’s peppery bite tempers when whirred with mild sunflower seeds.



(Tom McCorkle for The Washington Post; food styling by Lisa Cherkasky for The Washington Post)

Sunflower Ranch Dressing. There are so many ways to plantify America’s favorite dressing, and this one is sure to be a hit. Sunflower seeds and a nondairy milk of your choice create that same creamy texture you love.



(Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post)

Super Simple Sunflower Seed Butter. Forget peanut butter, a sunflower butter and jelly sandwich might just become a new household favorite. If you’d like to add a little flavor oomph, try making this Cinnamon Vanilla Sunflower Butter.



(Goran Kosanovic for The Washington Post)

Roasted Brussels sprouts With Apple and Sunflower Seeds. Now that we’ve all learned that roasting is a surefire way to make Brussels sprouts delicious, it’s time to up the ante by adding an apple cider vinaigrette for some tang, some apple for sweetness and toasted sunflower seeds for nutty crunch.



Grilled Apples With Walnuts, Dried Cherries and Sunflower Seeds. You might have baked some apples before, but you might want to try taking the same concept and firing up the fall grill instead of the oven.



(Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post)

Red Cabbage and Fennel Slaw With Sunflower Seeds. Pink will forever be fashionable, and it’s certainly attractive in this wintry slaw. Serve up alongside a rich stew, atop some tacos or piled up on a burger.

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