Pumpkin Seed Pesto

It’s October and October means it’s pumpkin season – usually. For the first half of this month I’ve been desperately waiting for some cozy, chilly weather, for the leaves on trees to turn red and brown, and for bright-orange pumpkins decorating the shop windows. Alas, apart from a slight, barely-detectable chill in the air at night and the occasional humid rainy day, it still doesn’t feel a lot like autumn over here in Greece. Since I am still a bit used to the turbulent weather of the North – as every Dutch person will know: it’s basically “autumn” (gray, rainy, cold, etc.) throughout the entire year in The Netherlands, except for when it’s winter and it’s even colder and those few weeks of summer when it might be sunny and humid – I do miss curling up on the couch in a wintery sweater with a little blanket and a hot cup of tea, or soup around this time of year. Oh, and thick, meaty stews… I miss those too. 


While I cannot yet convince myself that it’s really time for stew just because “it’s October” – it still being 26°C outside as I am typing this – I really don’t want to miss out on the annual ‘pumpkin-festivities’, so, here’s me slowly slowly letting go of summer and transitioning into the pumpkin and autumn spirit with this ‘Pumpkin Seed Pesto’.


This pumpkin seed and basil pesto is a twist on the classic ‘pesto alla Genovese’, which is usually made with crushed garlic, fresh basil leaves, Parmigiano-Reggiano, or Pecorino and pine nuts. This slightly earthier version with toasted pumpkin seeds and arugula is perfect for autumn (or as is the case for me: this weird October month that still kind-off feels a bit like summer on certain days). Spread this flavorful condiment on a piece of toast and have it for breakfast, or brunch, or cover long strands of whole wheat linguine, or spaghetti with it!

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Note: Strictly speaking, real Parmigiano-Reggiano is not vegetarian since it is produced with rennet. If you follow a strict vegetarian diet, replace the cheese by a vegetarian-friendly option.


Pumpkin Seed Pesto

0.0 rating
  • V
  • GF
Pesto with pumpkin seeds, basil and arugula
  • Difficulty:Easy
  • Prep Time:5 mins
  • Cook Time:5 mins
  • Serves:6
  • Freezable:No

Nutrition per portion

  • 100g pumpkin seeds
  • 75g Parmigiano-Reggiano (Parmesan cheese)
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 15g fresh basil leaves (about a cup loosely packed)
  • 15g (baby) arugula
  • 150ml extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice, or red wine vinegar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt, or more to taste
  1. Toast the pumpkin seeds: Place a frying pan over medium heat. When the pan is hot, add the pumpkin seeds. Toss, or stir frequently and toast until fragrant. When the pumpkin seeds are toasted, transfer them to a food processor and let them cool.
  2. Process chunky ingredients: Cut the Parmesan cheese into chunks (small enough for your food processor to process easily) and add chunks of cheese to the food processor. Add the two garlic cloves as well and pulse until finely ground.
  3. Make the pesto: Add the basil leaves and arugula to the food processor with the other ingredients. If the greens don’t fit, pulse once or twice to make a little space, then add the rest. Add ¼ teaspoon salt, or more to taste and add the olive oil and lemon juice. Process all ingredients until you’ve got a relatively smooth paste. Add a bit more oil if necessary. This pesto can be made a day, or two ahead and can be saved in a closed jar topped with a bit of olive oil to seal it off and keep it from browning.
Note: if you want to serve this with pasta, cook pasta (400g - 500g) according to instructions on the packaging and save about 150ml of cooking liquid. Add the pesto to the cooked pasta together with half of the reserved cooking liquid. Toss and stir and add a little more cooking liquid if necessary until the pasta is well coated in the sauce.

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