Posted by: Erin | October 15, 2008

Pumpkin Seed Pesto

Oh my god, you guys, I cannot tell you all how much I love my little Kitchen Aid food processor.

I found pepitas (roasted, salted, hulled pumpkin seeds) at Whole Foods tonight, after a week of searching – I’ve been to two Shaw’s so far and couldn’t find them (though I swear my usual store used to carry them). I mean, seriously – they’re pumpkin seeds. Much like my quest for decent basil, it was like searching for liquid gold. But Whole Foods came to my rescue, so yay for them. I also got a nice bunch of organic flat-leaf parsley (tried to get some at the Copley Square Farmers Market yesterday, but the vendor who’d had some nice bunches the last few weeks didn’t have any this time, unfortunately).

The other day, I clicked on a link to some pumpkin recipes on One of the recipes was for a pumpkin-seed pesto. I’m mildly obsessed with pesto these days, it seems, so I thought it’d be interesting to try. (So far, I’ve only made pesto with walnuts, never with pine nuts or some other nut/seed variation. But more about my usual pesto in another post.) I finally found two nice basil plants at my usual supermarket the other night also, so I actually had enough basil to make the recipe properly.

Store-bought basil plants

Store-bought basil plants

Usually, when I make pesto, I just kinda toss everything into the food processor. This time, I decided to follow the recipe to see what happened. First, chop up the pepitas and garlic, then add the parsley, basil, and lemon juice:

Already chopped garlic and pepitas with basil, parsley, and lemon juice added on top.

Already chopped garlic and pepitas with basil, parsley, and lemon juice added on top.

(Side note: I used lemon juice from concentrate, because that’s what I had. Because of that, I also didn’t add lemon zest.) The recipe called for the 1/2 cup olive oil to be added last, something I’ve never done before. I’m not sure if it was because of that or because of the proportions in this recipe, but this pesto came out a little more sauce-like than my usual pesto.

Finished pesto!

Finished pesto!

The recipe makes a cup and a half of pesto. Obviously, I’m not going to use all of that at once, so I’m freezing most of it. Thanks to the Pesto Fest! post on Margaret Roach‘s blog, I knew the best way to do this was to make pesto ice cubes – it’s far more practical to make cubes, because you can thaw what you need as you need it. So there are currently about twenty 1-tablespoon pesto cubes in my freezer right now. This is my second attempt at freezing pesto (again, more on that when I post about my usual pesto) – the first ones came out okay, but I did notice it took about 48 hours to freeze fully, so these won’t be ready until sometime tomorrow night or Friday.

The remaining pesto became part of tonight’s dinner. I put a spoonful of pesto over some Barilla Plus rotini, and it turned out to be pretty good. I think the balance of the pesto ingredients might be slightly off – the pepitas make it a little saltier than the pesto I’m used to (that might be avoided by using unsalted pumpkin seeds – maybe I’ll try that next time). I’m not sure if it was the unexpected salt or that I used maybe a little too much garlic (I tend to get a little overzealous with my garlic, I admit), but it was a little stronger than I expected. I think next time, I’ll use a little less pesto over the pasta so it’s a more even taste. But, on the whole, I am pleased.

Pumpkin seed pesto over rotini

Pumpkin seed pesto over rotini

Another side note: I don’t put cheese in my pesto. At first, it was because I didn’t particularly like Parmesan, but usually it’s simply because I don’t have it. I didn’t think it was worth buying a bunch of cheese I won’t use for the two tablespoons this recipe called for. I don’t think it damaged the pesto, but I think cheese over the pesto and pasta would be good, possibly Monterey Jack. (This might just sound good to me because that I do have in my fridge, but I was too tired to bother grating cheese tonight, so maybe I’ll try it next time.)



  1. My freezer is stuffed with garlicky green ice cubes. Thanks for the shout-out, and so many good recipe ideas.

  2. Sounds tasty. I’m going to have to try that this weekend.

  3. @margaret No prob! Thanks for the great cube idea. I would never have thought to freeze pesto before I found your post.

    @trueepicure You totally should – it’s pretty good!

  4. YUM. No cheese = vegan friends can have some right? #hinthint -C

  5. I think cheese makes it harder to preserve, and I don’t know, but I thought cheese sounded weird. So I left it out. 🙂

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