Pumpkin Seed Pesto
Do you ever go through your pantry not knowing what to do with some of those bulk nuts and seeds? Well this pumpkin seed pesto is a great way to use up those extra pumpkin seeds (you can also use pistachios or other nuts and seeds too, see my pistachio pesto)! This pumpkin seed pesto has some added earthiness from the pumpkin seeds, brightness from the lime and a kick from the red pepper flakes, elevating it from your traditional pesto. Best of all, this pumpkin seed pesto is nut-free and dairy-free, so it can be enjoyed by everyone!
How to Prepare Pumpkin Seed Pesto
I love this pesto because it involves very few kitchen tools; all you need are a microplane or cheese grater, a knife and a food processor! After you prep all of your ingredients, place the pumpkin seeds and the garlic in the food processor. Pro tip: adding the larger or tougher ingredients first allows you to make sure the mixture is smooth.
Once the pumpkin seeds and garlic are pulsed, add the cilantro, lime juice, lime zest, salt, red pepper flakes, and parmesan cheese, if you’re including it. Again, pulse this mixture until it reaches the desired consistency. From there, run the food processor on low, and slowly add the olive oil to the pesto mixture. Now you have a great sauce to put over pasta, add on sandwiches, or dip veggies into!
About Pumpkin Seeds
One of the great things about pumpkin seeds is they can be prepared at home! During the fall season when you go pumpkin picking and carve your pumpkins, save the seeds! Remove the seeds from the orange flesh of the pumpkin, wash, rinse and dry them. You can either dry the seeds out overnight, or place them in the oven for 30 minutes. Once dried out, season as you’d like, stick them back in the oven for about 20 minutes and you have a great snack or ingredient to use in this pumpkin seed pesto! Don’t worry if pumpkins are not in season, you can always pick up pumpkin seeds at your local grocery store.
Both the outer shell and the inner seed of the pumpkin seed are edible, however for this recipe, we will only be using the inner seed or what you might see as “shelled pumpkin seeds” in the grocery store.
Pumpkin Seed Nutrition
These little seeds have plenty of health benefits. Pumpkin seeds are high in magnesium, fiber, vitamin E and omega-3s, among many other nutrients and antioxidants.1
In the body, magnesium helps with many bodily processes. Most importantly, it is necessary for creating energy from the foods we eat, bone structure, nerve function and muscle contraction.2 Fiber helps to lower cholesterol, keep blood glucose regulated, and aids in digestion!3 Although not necessarily a nutrient, fiber is very important in our diets. Next up is vitamin E. In the body, vitamin E is similar to that of an antioxidant, protecting our cells.4 Vitamin E also has been shown to help with supporting the immune system.4 Pumpkin seeds also contain omega-3 fatty acids which have shown to be cardioprotective, as well as beneficial to those with diabetes, cancer and mental illness.5 How do you like to eat pumpkin seeds?
- Ware M. Pumpkin seeds: Benefits, nutrition, and dietary tips. Medical News Today. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/303864#benefits. Published July 24, 2018. Accessed March 22, 2020.
- Office of Dietary Supplements – Magnesium. NIH Office of Dietary Supplements. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Magnesium-HealthProfessional/. Accessed March 22, 2020.
- Fuller S, Beck E, Salman H, Tapsell L. New Horizons for the Study of Dietary Fiber and Health: A Review. Plant Foods for Human Nutrition. 2016;71(1):1-12. doi:10.1007/s11130-016-0529-6.
- Office of Dietary Supplements – Vitamin E. NIH Office of Dietary Supplements. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminE-Consumer/. Accessed March 22, 2020.
- Shahidi F, Ambigaipalan P. Omega-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids and Their Health Benefits. Annu Rev Food Sci Technol. 2018;25(9):345-381. doi:10.1146/annurev-food-111317-095850