Pumpkin Seed Pesto

This pumpkin seed pesto is a riff on the classic. Toasted pumpkin seeds are blended with parsley, Pecorino cheese, olive oil, lemon juice, and salt. It’s a great autumnal sauce for pasta, a topper for fish, chicken, or pork.

Glass jar of pumpkin seed pesto, nearby the lid and a spoon with pesto

This autumnal riff on the classic condiment swaps in parsley and pumpkin seeds for the traditional basil and pine nuts. The resulting pesto is divine. And exceptionally well suited to autumn. Dollop it onto roasted veggies and meats, slather it on a sandwich, or stir it into cooked pasta. Really, the possibilities are endless. So give it a whirl. And then let us know how you used it in a comment below.–Angie Zoobkoff

Pumpkin Seed Pesto

  • Quick Glance
  • Quick Glance
  • 20 M
  • 20 M
  • Makes 12 (2-tbsp) servings | 1 1/2 cups
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Ingredients


Directions

In a dry skillet over high heat, toast the pumpkin seeds, shaking the skillet occasionally, until they stop crackling and popping, 3 to 5 minutes.

Transfer the seeds to a food processor and toss in the parsley, oil, cheese, lemon, and salt. Blitz until a coarse paste-like pesto forms.

Scrape the pesto into the sterilized jar and add enough oil to form a layer on top to ensure it’s airtight. Screw on the lid and refrigerate for up to a week. Every time you use a little (or a lot), always make certain there’s a thin layer of oil on top of the pesto before popping it back in the refrigerator.

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Recipe Testers' Reviews

Calling all pesto lovers! This variation on a classic is unique in its ingredients and bursting with flavor.

Swapped for the traditional toasted pine nuts are pumpkin seeds, and, for the sweet fresh basil, Italian flat leaf parsley. Those two items plus quality olive oil, fresh lemon juice, and (my favorite) grated Pecorino cheese make for a no-cook sauce that pairs well with a multitude of dishes. Its simplicity is just a delight. Minimal ingredients, minimal effort, but the results very flavorful and memorable.

I like the texture of the pesto, too. To me, it was a bit thicker than a basil pesto which makes it heartier. The only thing that might need to be pointed out is the majority of pumpkin seeds I see in the store are roasted and salted, which are delish, but for this purpose with all of the added cheese and the added salt, it could get really salty really quickly. Just a thought.

My first go-round with the pesto sauce I decided to toss it onto roasted cauliflower florets, and I plan to give it second go-round tonight tossed with some al dente orzo pasta stuffed into baked sweet bell peppers. I can also see this delightful pesto sauce working well with a pork tenderloin, grilled chicken perhaps, or even as a sauce for the season's best roasted squash. The possibilities are endless!

It’s sometimes a difficult mind-bend to separate the word pesto from it’s most common basil-parmesan-garlic rendition. This pumpkin seed pesto, however, makes a strong case for the greater good of the category of herb and nut pastes and for the wide flexibility of ingredients. The pumpkin seeds do indeed give this an autumnal flair that’s a welcome change of pace as we head into cooler fall days. The flavor of the pesto is earthy and excellent and don’t even get me started on the aroma in my kitchen as the mixture was whizzing in the food processor!

The recipe made about two cups, leaving me enough to stash a small jar in the fridge for use on sandwiches, on pasta, or alongside grilled fish or chicken, plus plenty more to freeze for the future.

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