This simple pumpkin seed pesto recipe is delicious used as you would any pesto recipe; to top a piece of fish, tossed into hot pasta, or stirred into a soup. Pumpkin seeds are one of nature’s most nutritious foods and this delicious pesto recipe is a great way to eat them!
This recipe is almost identical to a classic pesto—except for the pumpkin seeds (hence the name of the dish). Traditionally, pesto is made with basil, olive oil, Parmesan, and garlic. Here, we add parsley for color and flavor, lemon to bolster the brightness of the spread, and we swap pumpkin seeds for pine nuts. Because of the hyper-fresh ingredients, though, this condiment doesn’t last too long—only about two (maybe three) days in the refrigerator.
Of course, pasta and pesto are an amazing combination. A pesto cream is another amazing way to dress your pasta. Mix this pesto into some aioli or mayonnaise for an excellent condiment that everyone will use with reckless abandon on his or her sandwiches. As mentioned earlier, it’s also wonderful with all kinds of grilled or sautéed proteins, stirred into soup, heaped on top of crostini, and much more.
Pumpkin seeds are truly packed with nutrients and vitamins, including manganese, phosphorus, vitamin K, iron, zinc, and copper. Wow! Clearly, their inclusion in this pesto makes it quite the healthful condiment, spread, or sauce. They also help reduce inflammation, help to reduce cancer risk, improve heart health, and can lower blood sugar levels. While the original pesto may include pine nuts—which are delicious, don’t get us wrong—they are super expensive and not as healthful as pumpkin seeds.
This recipe calls for a food processor, but if you have a mortar and pestle, we recommend testing that method out! It’s traditionally how pesto was made in the olden days, so it could be a great use for your mortar and pestle—especially if it’s not the most commonly used tool in your kitchen repertoire.
1/2 cup shelled pumpkin seeds, roasted
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan
2 cloves garlic
3/4 cup basil leaves
3/4 cup fresh parsley leaves
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup olive oil
Kosher salt, to taste
Steps to Make It
Gather the ingredients.
Combine pumpkin seeds, Parmesan, and garlic in a food processor. Pulse on and off, for about 20 seconds, until seeds are almost ground.
Add basil, parsley, lemon juice, and olive oil, and pulse on and off for about 40 seconds (you may want to scrape down the sides with a spatula in between pulses), until all ingredients are combined. The mixture should be more like a course paste than a liquefied sauce, so be careful not to overprocess.
Transfer to a bowl or glass storage jar, taste, and adjust seasoning with salt. Be sure to taste, as the pumpkin seeds may have been well salted when they were roasted. Serve immediately or refrigerate for up to two days.