Fall Recipes: Mexican Pumpkin Seed Pesto

by Pamela

pumpkin, pumpkin seeds, pumpkin seed pesto, queso fundido, pepitas

Oh, where are my manners?  I am such a bad..bad hostess.  In my efforts to class this place up a bit with a guest blog post, while I take a little vacation, I forgot to introduce you to my friend Andrea.  Andrea writes the blog Fork Fingers Chopsticks.  Each ingredient that she works with comes with an explanation of its history and nutrition.  Not only do you get valuable information, you get to see some of her delicious recipes that she prepares using that ingredient.  I have learned so much from Andrea, since meeting her this past Spring at blogging camp.  You can follow Andrea on Twitter too @ForkFingersChop.  Pleae forgive my lack of manners and welcome Andrea.  I was thrilled when she wanted to do something with pumpkin seeds.  So check out this amazing recipe of hers.

First, a big thanks to Pamela for asking me to guest post. When I met her last May, I was immediately wooed – she’s a sharp lady and My Man’s Belly reflects her wit. I’m glad to be in such company.

As for me and my blog – Fork Fingers Chopsticks – I’m a hobbyist food anthropologist. I write about different cultural uses of an ingredient and the origin of the same.

This time of year, as we inch toward Halloween, I think about pumpkins – pepitas to be specific.

Pepitas, pumpkin seeds in English, are touted as one of the most flavorful and nutritious seeds. They are available year-round, but are the freshest when pumpkins are in season.

Pumpkin seeds have been used in Mexican cookery since pre-Columbian times. That’s not surprising since pumpkins are believed to have originated in Central America about 5500 B.C.E. In Mexico, pumpkin seeds are roasted in oil and eaten as a snack food. Or, such as here, they are dry toasted to make pipian, a seed-based sauce. For such sauces, the hulled green seeds thicken and create richness.

Nutritionally, pumpkin seeds are also packed with nutrients like magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, iron, copper, and zinc. Some research suggests that pumpkin seeds are also good for prostate health and as an anti-inflammatory for arthritis.

You can find hulled green (untoasted) pumpkin seeds in health-food stores as well as in Mexican/Latin American markets. My only advice is to buy them somewhere with frequent turnover. Pumpkin seeds can go rancid, so buy the untoasted varieties (they are less perishable) and store them in the freezer.

This Pumpkin Seed Pesto is nutty and rich. It also has some earthiness from fresh herbs like cilantro, parsley and epazote. The latter is a native Mexican herb that is pungent and, according to some, an acquired taste. Epazote is frequently used in black beans and tortilla soup.

I originally adapted this pipian pesto from the cookbook Dona Thomas by Thomas Schnetz and Dona Savitsky a few years ago. I like the sauce atop of Queso de Chiva Fundido (broiled goat cheese) as the original recipe suggests. However, since this recipe makes plenty, the pesto sauce is also tasty on pressed turkey tortas (sandwiches) and lovely as a spread for bread. You can also use it as a sauce for chicken, pork or vegetables – but, thin it a little first.

¡Buen provecho!

Relationship Advice

This is the place where Pamela shares some sage advice about relationships, sex and more. Me, I don’t think I can compete – or, at least do so publicly. I am, after all, a food blogger and not a therapist. I will say this, however. Like food, a relationship can be bland or it can be phenomenal. You choose to make it what it is – or isn’t.



Pumpkin Seed Pesto Recipe

Pumpkin Seed Pesto Ingredients

  • 1 cup hulled pumpkin seeds
  • 2 small poblano chiles, roasted and seeded
  • 4 tomatillos
  • 2 cups fresh cilantro (only remove stems if woody)
  • 1 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 3/4 cup fresh epazote (leaves only)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup onion, diced small
  • 1 1/4 cups water, chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 – 3 serrano chiles or jalapenos (optional)
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil


Queso Fundido Ingredients

1 pound goat cheese, queso fresco or farmer’s cheese

Tortilla chips


Pumpkin Seed Pesto

Dry-roast pumpkin seeds in a large, heavy skillet (12 inches minimum, straight-sided) on medium high heat for about 5 minutes – after the first few pop, stir constantly until they have evenly browned and nearly all have popped into rounded seeds – do not overbrown or burn – if seeds are over-toasted they become bitter. Once browned, remove from skillet and set aside.

Roast poblano chiles under the broiler or on the grill, turning every few minutes until their skin becomes charred. When roasted on all sides, remove the skins, the core and seeds. Rough chop the flesh.

Peel the tomatillos and soak them in cold water for a few minutes. Rinse well and rough chop.

In a blender, add the pumpkin seeds, poblano chiles, tomatillos, cilantro, parsley, epazote, garlic, onion, water/broth and salt. Blend on high into a puree. Taste and adjust seasoning – if you would like it spicier, add the serranos or jalapenos one at a time, pureeing to incorporate after each.

In the same large skillet, heat oil on high heat. When hot, add the sauce slowly, stirring to prevent splattering. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 30 to 35 minutes, stirring frequently to avoid splattering. The pumpkin seeds develop a nuttier taste and the sauce thickens as it cooks. Should your sauce thicken to quickly add an additional ¼ cup water/broth and reduce heat. When done, it is the consistency of loose mashed potatoes. Adjust seasoning – careful not to over salt if you are eating it with chips or cheese. Keep sauce hot if using right away, or transfer to another container to cook. Cover and refrigerate for 3 to 4 days.

Queso Fundido Directions

Cut/break up cheese and place in individual ramekins or gratin dishes so that cheese is about 3/4-inch to 1-inch deep. Broil for about 5 minutes, until the cheese softens and heats throughout. Carefully remove from the oven and ladle the hot pumpkin seed pesto sauce generously over the cheese.

Serve immediately with tortilla chips.


Welcome to My Man's Belly! Leave me a comment and let me know what you think about the site or if there's a recipe you'd like to see here. Have a great day.


Pan Covers October 21, 2010 at 7:37 am

Thanks for showing a unique way to use all of those seeds that stem from carving out a pumpkin. By utilizing these seeds in a recipe, one may seem to take advantage of its nutrient content.

Lentil Breakdown October 15, 2010 at 10:07 pm

I am all disoriented. Whose blog am I on again? My Forkin’ Man’s Belly? : ) Great photo!

Bianca @ South Bay Rants n Raves October 14, 2010 at 12:27 pm

This one’s being saved on the try to cook list! What wonderful flavors! Cheers to the fall! 🙂

Cooking in Mexico October 14, 2010 at 8:51 am

This is a wonderful recipe that I have made many times in one form or another (though never with epazote). Despite the popularity of pumpkin seeds in Mexico, Mexican cooks do not make pesto. I think this is due to the great tradition of keeping to their culinary roots. Some cooks are becoming more adventuresome and trying international recipes, like pesto, but they are very rare.

Can you get epazote in the US and Canada? I have never been able to find it out of Mexico, but perhaps someone is growing and supplying it. Sadly, there is no substitute for its unique, earthy flavor. I love adding it to a pot of black beans.


Andrea @ Fork Fingers Chopsticks October 14, 2010 at 11:30 am

Yes. I’ve found epazote north of the border – at least the U.S. It’s generally near the fresh herbs. Last year I had even planted some in my community garden with hopes of sharing and expanding fellow gardner’s horizons – but unfortunately, I planted it in a place where it got continually trampled on.

Kate October 13, 2010 at 8:28 pm

I am definately going to try this one….wait first I must learn what epazote is. Help me!

Andrea October 13, 2010 at 2:36 pm

Sounds like a great recipe! I love pepitas!

lisaiscooking October 13, 2010 at 2:36 pm

Fantastic recipe for pumpkin seeds. And, it’s so versatile. This would be great with meat, eggs, enchiladas, and more. Sounds delicious!

Andrea @ Fork Fingers Chopsticks October 13, 2010 at 5:54 pm

The pesto is pretty thick, so if you want to use it more as a sauce, add more stock or water to thin. I’d start with at least 1/2 cup.

sippitysup October 13, 2010 at 2:32 pm

This is fantastic. You are very good at these flavors. So I am not surprised how good the pesto is. But its the relationship advice that seems so well… sage! GREG

Andrea @ Fork Fingers Chopsticks October 13, 2010 at 5:56 pm

Right on!

Kristina @ spabettie October 13, 2010 at 10:58 am

this sounds great – very creative!

Belinda @zomppa October 13, 2010 at 9:36 am

I love this recipe, and great to meet you! Love hearing the history of foods.

Andrea @ Fork Fingers Chopsticks October 13, 2010 at 5:58 pm

I’ll be adding more pumpkin seed recipes this month on my site. But, first I’m finishing some recipe posts on apples – sweet and savory.

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