Pumpkin seeds, also known as pepitas, offer a unique twist to the traditional pine nut pesto. They provide a nutty, earthy flavor that pairs wonderfully with basil and other pesto ingredients. This version is not only delicious but also packed with nutrients, thanks to the pumpkin seeds which are a great source of magnesium, iron, and protein.
- 2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
- 1/2 cup roasted pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 2-3 garlic cloves, peeled
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil (plus additional if needed)
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1-2 tablespoons lemon juice (or to taste)
- Optional: 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes for a touch of heat
Roasting Pumpkin Seeds
If your pumpkin seeds aren’t already roasted, you can quickly toast them in a dry skillet over medium heat. Stir or shake the pan occasionally to avoid burning. Once they’ve turned a golden color and give off a nutty aroma, remove from heat and allow them to cool.
In a food processor or blender, combine the fresh basil, roasted pumpkin seeds, garlic cloves, and Parmesan cheese. Pulse several times until the mixture is coarsely chopped.
Adding Olive Oil
With the food processor or blender on, slowly pour the olive oil into the bowl in a steady stream. Continue blending until the mixture is fully combined and has a smooth texture. If the pesto is too thick, you can add a bit more olive oil to reach your desired consistency.
Season your pumpkin seed pesto with salt, freshly ground black pepper, and lemon juice. If you want a touch of heat, add the optional red pepper flakes. Blend or stir to mix the seasonings in evenly.
Storing and Serving
Transfer the pesto to a bowl. If storing, you can place it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one week. A thin layer of olive oil on the surface can help preserve its vibrant color.
🥗 What to serve with?
- Roasted Butternut Squash: The sweetness and caramelized edges of roasted butternut squash can complement the earthy pumpkin seeds in the pesto. The shared autumnal vibes between squash and pumpkin seeds create a harmonious pairing.
- Grilled Polenta: Grilled polenta offers a crispy exterior and soft interior that becomes a great canvas for the pesto’s flavors. The mild corn taste of polenta serves as a grounding element against the rich pesto.
- Sautéed Greens (like spinach or kale): The slight bitterness of greens can contrast beautifully with the nutty richness of the pesto, providing a balanced bite.
- Toasted Baguette Slices: A simple toasted baguette can become an enticing appetizer when spread with Pumpkin Seed Pesto, allowing guests to truly savor the pesto’s unique flavor.
- Quinoa Salad: Quinoa, with its slightly nutty taste, resonates well with the pepitas in the pesto. Adding some roasted veggies and a light vinaigrette can further accentuate this pairing.
- Roasted Beets: Their inherent sweetness and earthiness tie in seamlessly with the deep flavors of the pesto. Plus, their vibrant color can make the plate visually appealing.
- Charred Brussels Sprouts: The caramelized, slightly bitter taste of charred Brussels sprouts creates an exciting flavor contrast with the pesto, ensuring a rich and varied palate experience.
- Grilled Portobello Mushrooms: The umami flavors of grilled Portobello mushrooms can stand up to and complement the robust flavors of the Pumpkin Seed Pesto.
Enjoy the delightful flavors of this alternative pesto, where the earthy notes of pumpkin seeds elevate the classic dish to new culinary heights!