Pumpkin Seed Pesto

Makes about 1 cup

Traditional pesto contains pine nuts, and sometimes walnuts, so it’s off-limits for the nut-allergic. You can simply make pesto without any pine nuts, but the addition of pumpkin seeds gives it the nuttiness you might otherwise miss. Plus, you get extra nutrition from the seeds. This pesto is delicious on gluten-free pasta but also as a spread on a sandwich or as a pizza sauce.


  • 1-2 cloves garlic
  • 4 cups fresh basil leaves (2-3 large bunches), washed and dried
  • ½ cup roasted and salted pumpkin seeds
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • ¾ to 1 teaspoon Kosher salt (if using unsalted pumpkin seeds, you may need more salt)


Using a food processor, pulse the garlic first, then add the basil leaves and pumpkin seeds and pulse again.

Slowly add the olive oil while the processor is running. You may need to stop and scrape down the sides, and then continue. Blend until a paste forms to the consistency you prefer. Stir in the salt to taste.

Basil leaves will darken in the air very quickly. Put pesto in a bowl with a thin layer of olive oil on top and cover with plastic wrap until ready to use. Stir just prior to serving to reveal the bright green color.

Cook’s Tip:

Most traditional pesto recipes add Parmesan cheese.  To keep this recipe dairy-free I serve grated Parmesan on the side. You can add ½ cup of freshly grated cheese to the prepared pesto, but you may need to adjust the salt.

Nutritional Analysis:
Calories: 170, Carbohydrates: 2 g, Protein: 3 g, Fat: 17 g, Cholesterol: 0 mg, Sodium: 200 mg, Fiber: 1 g

The nutritional analysis below represents a 2-tablespoon serving.

Alison St. Sure blogs about celiac disease, gluten intolerance and food allergies at SureFoodsLiving.com. She is the co-founder of the Gluten Intolerance Group of Marin County in California, teaches classes and is a consultant on living gluten free.  She has also written for Common Ground and Competitor magazines.