Cilantro and Pumpkin Seed Pesto Recipe

Spice up your pesto with this take, which combines Italian and Mexican sauce recipes by replacing basil with cilantro.

From "The Herbfarm Cookbook"
May/June 2016

  • Cilantro pesto makes an excellent topping for all kinds of meals, including Mexican, Spanish and Asian dishes.
    Photo by iStock

Yield: 1 cup

Cilantro pesto is a new invention—a fusion of Mexican and Italian sauces—that’s delicious on grilled or broiled fish, beef, pork or vegetables. Like true nuts, pumpkin seeds have rich oil content and give the sauce a warm, deep and slightly bitter flavor. Be sure to buy hulled seed that are dark green, not beige.

Cilantro and Pumpkin Seed Pesto Recipe


• 1⁄4 cup hulled pumpkin seeds
• 2 cups (gently packed) fresh cilantro leaves and tender sprigs
• 2 cloves garlic, peeled
• 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
• 1 teaspoon seeded and coarsely chopped jalapeño pepper
• 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
• 1⁄2 cup extra virgin olive oil


1. To toast pumpkin seeds, pour seeds into a small dry skillet and place it over medium heat. When you hear a seed pop, shake pan continuously until most seeds are puffed instead of flat. Pour them onto a towel to cool.

2. Process cooled seeds with remaining ingredients except oil in a food processor until mixture is finely ground. Stop machine and scrape down sides. With machine running, pour in oil in a steady stream and continue to process until mixture is slightly creamy and fairly smooth. Taste and season with additional salt or jalapeño if needed. Makes 1 cup.

Learn more about cooking with culinary herbs in Traditional Herbal Recipes from Around the World.

Excerpted with permission from The Herbfarm Cookbook.