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Healthy & Delicious Pumpkin Pesto
Healthy & Delicious Pumpkin Pesto

Pumpkin pesto? Most of you probably think I am nuts since surely pesto is made out of basil, right?

Well – yes, and I LOVE traditional pesto, but since I have grandparents who grow pumpkins and there always seems to be too many of them I need to get creative, and I promise you, pumpkin pesto is the next big thing!

If possible, then I always recommend choosing smaller pumpkins, since they tend to have more flavor. My favorite is Hokkaido pumpkins, which in addition to being ultra-tasty is also extremely high in protein. 

Just as the traditional pesto, my pumpkin pesto contains parmesan cheese. My diet is strongly plant-focused, but I am not vegan or even vegetarian, so I go for parmesan in this recipe, but if you prefer a vegan option, it can be substituted with nutritional yeast. I have replaced the ridiculously expensive pine nuts with pumpkin seeds, and in addition to being just a very logical choice (pumpkin seeds in pumpkin pesto, right!), they also work exceptionally well in pesto.

Occasionally I even use them in basil pesto. Sometimes I also love to add some chili flakes. To be perfectly honest I like to add them to most of my meals, but if you are making the pesto for the first time, I recommend you omit them at first and then add later – this way you will get a better idea how the pesto tastes like without the extra chili.

Talking about multifunctional, you can use the pesto everywhere. Some examples – on a toast, on a pizza, just straight from the jar or as a pasta sauce, like I did today.  Delicious!

Healthy & Delicious Pumpkin Pesto

Cooking time: 50 minutes

Ingredients:

10 oz pumpkin (choose a smaller one, if you can – these tend to have more flavor)

1 ¾ oz parmesan cheese

1 ¾ oz pumpkin seeds

The juice of 1 lemon

Chili flakes (optional)

Salt

Good quality extra virgin olive oil

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400 F.

Slice the pumpkin (no need to peel), remove the seeds, lightly brush with olive oil and bake until the flesh is tender. It usually takes around 30 minutes, but have a look a little earlier, because the ovens and pumpkins can be very different. 

About 2 minutes before the pumpkin is fully cooked add the pumpkin seeds to the pan to lightly toast them.

At the same time, grate the cheese.

Let the pumpkin cool, and then remove the flesh with a spoon – it should be quite simple to do.

Using stick blender mash together pumpkin and pumpkin seeds, mix in the cheese and lemon juice. Have a taste and add salt, if needed. If you wish, you can also mix in chili flakes.

Enjoy with whatever you fancy!

By Kadri Raig

Kadri is a food blogger and yoga teacher from Estonia. She loves healthy food and cooking and for her, these two are often the same thing. Cooking meals from scratch, you know exactly what goes in it and even without holding back with sugar or fat we end up using a lot less compared to ready-made frozen stuff from the supermarket.

She does love to spend time in the kitchen, but most of her recipes are simple and don’t take more than 20 minutes of active cooking time. She thinks that everybody can find time to cook healthy food at home, it is just a question of planning. "I work in an office full time, teach yoga 7-8 hours a week and write a blog. So if I manage to cook most of my meals, then so do you!" Connect with Kadri and enjoy many more of her delicious healthy recipes on her website here: http://www.kahvliga.ee/.

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