Recipe: Pumpkin Seed Pesto

Here is a rich and delicious pesto recipe using pumpkin seeds, fresh herbs and sun-dried tomatoes. It makes a great accompaniment to both red meat and poultry and adds a tasty flavor kick to steamed vegetables as well.

Pumpkin seeds have one of the highest protein content of any seed or nut, with around one third protein, including good amounts of tryptophan. They are also full of minerals like magnesium, manganese, iron, copper and zinc.

In addition to the healthy pumpkin seeds, this recipe has optional pumpkin seed oil. Bright green and with an intensely rich and nutty taste, pumpkin seed oil contains high levels of the phytosterol beta-sitosterol and a steroidal compound called delta-7 sterine that may help prevent hair loss and prostate problems in men.

This pumpkin seed pesto is full of flavor and nutrition, very low in carbs and adds an interesting twist to a paleo meal. Let me know what you think of it if you make it up yourself.

Ingredients

Serves 2-3

  • A cup of raw, USA grown and organic pumpkin seeds.
  • A quarter a cup of sun-dried tomatoes (preferably in olive oil rather than sunflower oil).
  • A cup of fresh basil leaves, loosely packed.
  • A cup of fresh parsley fronds, loosely packed.
  • 1 to 3 cloves of garlic, depending on how much you like it.
  • 3 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice.
  • 2 tablespoons of cold pressed pumpkin seed oil (avocado oil or extra-virgin olive oil can suffice, though pumpkin seed oil does have a brilliant flavor).
  • Cracked pepper and sea salt to taste.
  • Optional – A small chili, deseeded and finely chopped.

Method

This method uses a food processor for ease and speed. You could make this pumpkin seed pesto recipe with a chopping board instead and use a pestle and mortar for crushing up the pumpkin seeds if you prefer. A good food processor will be much easier though and allow you to have it ready to serve in minutes.

  1. To begin, wash and pick off the basil leaves and parsley fronds and add them to the food processor.
  2. Next add the pumpkin seeds, sun-dried tomatoes, optional chopped chili and garlic and process until they are all well chopped.
  3. Add the pumpkin seed oil and lemon juice right over the mixture and pulse in the food processor until you reach the consistency you like. I prefer crunchy myself, but you can continue until smooth and creamy.
  4. About the hardest part of this recipe is getting most of the resulting pesto out of the food processor. I find a rubber spatula particularly good for these type of jobs.
  5. You can either use all of the pesto immediately in a large meal, or store some in a glass jar with a lid in the fridge. Pushing the pesto down into the jar and adding layer of pumpkin seed oil or another healthy oil over the top will improve its shelf life.

Feel free to double or triple the ratios here and make enough for several meals. You can keep the pesto in the fridge and very gently heat it up in a pan before using it if you like. Keep the temperature low though if you used pumpkin seed oil as it shouldn’t be heated too much.

I’ve found this pumpkin seed pesto keeps well for at least a week made and stored in this way. It tastes so good that it’s unlikely to last that long.

in Recipes

Jim Dillon is health and wellness researcher, writing about natural nutrition, improving your physical and mental well-being and moving to a healthier lifestyle. His website Superfoodprofiles.com has detailed articles on superfood health benefits, hair and skin treatments and healthy recipes.