This pesto isn’t a traditional Italian combination, but it does put a welcome autumnal twist on the classic formula you’ll encounter in all of Italy’s classic pesto recipes. The basic proportions are the same as in a pesto alla Genovese, but out go the basil and pine nuts, and in come toasted pumpkin seeds and fresh flat leaf parsley.
As this pesto is made without nuts, it’s a great option for anyone with a nut allergy. What’s more, pumpkin seeds are typically much cheaper than pine nuts, so it’s much lighter on your wallet.
Whether made in a pestle and mortar or in a food processor, the resulting pesto is wonderfully earthy and just a little bit rugged – perfect, in our eyes, for cooler autumn days. Pair with short, textured shapes like cavatelli, orecchiette or casarecce, and make sure to loosen the pesto with a ladleful of cooking water before tossing together with your chosen pasta.
Our pumpkin seed pesto recipe
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 5 minutes
Calories per serving: 119kcal
- 100g pumpkin seeds
- 50g flat leaf parsley
- 1 clove of garlic
- 50g pecorino cheese, grated
- 100ml extra virgin olive oil
- A pinch of salt (ideally coarse)
We’ve included instructions for making your pesto the traditional way (with a pestle and mortar), as well as with a food processor. Either way, your pesto shouldn’t be too smooth – you’re looking for a slightly rustic texture.
Toast your pumpkin seeds
- Put a dry pan over a medium heat, then add your pumpkin seeds and toast, shaking the pan occasionally, until they begin to brown and pop (around 5 minutes).
- Remove the seeds from the pan promptly so that they don’t burn.
Making the pesto in a pestle and mortar
- Put the pumpkin seeds, garlic and a small pinch of salt in the mortar, then pound with the pestle until you have a rough paste.
- Roughly chop the parsley (this’ll make your life a lot easier), then add half to the mortar and pound until crushed.
- Add the rest of the parsley and pound, pushing down firmly, until it forms a paste.
- Stir in the cheese, add the oil and give everything one last mix. Check and adjust your seasoning as necessary.
Making the pesto in a food processor
- Pulse the pumpkin seeds, garlic and a pinch of salt until it forms a rough paste.
- Add the parsley and oil, then pulse again. You’re looking for a creamy, yet slightly chunky, consistency.
- Scrape into a bowl, then stir in the grated cheese with a spoon and check and adjust your seasoning as necessary.