Vegan Pepita Pesto is one of our favourite healthy Mexican dips.
Our homemade Mexican Pesto with Pumpkin Seeds recipe is quick and easy to make, ready to serve in under 10 minutes.
You can serve Pepita Pesto as a healthy dip with nachos and crostini. Or use it as a spread or condiment on grilled fish, barbecued meat, sandwiches, tacos, pizza and pasta sauces.
You’ll love scooping through a bowl of homemade Pesto with Pumpkin Seeds featuring simple and affordable ingredients like cilantro, parsley, garlic, raw pepitas, kosher salt and olive oil.
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What is Pepita Pesto?
A pepita is the edible seed of a pumpkin or squash, available to purchase raw, dried or toasted.
Many people use the words pepitas and pumpkin seeds interchangeably, but are they actually the same thing?
Pepitas and pumpkin seeds are actually two different things. A pepita is harvested from specific hull-less pumpkin varieties, known as Styrian or Oil Seed pumpkins. Any other variety of pumpkin produces a hulled seed that’s slightly fibrous and less tender.
Pesto is a sauce originating in Genoa, the capital city of Liguria, Italy. It traditionally consists of crushed garlic, pine nuts, salt, basil leaves, and hard cheese such as Parmigiano-Reggiano or Pecorino, all blended with olive oil.
Cooks around the world have enjoyed riffing on the classic blended nut, garlic and herb sauce by making variations to incorporate new flavours. Expensive pine nuts are often substituted with walnuts, pecans or hazelnuts for example. You can also have fun swapping out your favourite tender herbs.
Our Cilantro Pepita Pesto recipe features some of our favourite Mexican flavours. The versatile vegan dip gets its nutty and creamy texture from pumpkin seeds rather than the addition of nuts and cheese.
Travel to Mexico by Making Pesto with Pumpkin Seeds at Home
I love traveling to Latin America.
As a professional food and travel journalist, I’ve had the opportunity to enjoy amazing meals in Central America, South America and the Caribbean, from traditional markets to award winning restaurants.
For over ten years, I’ve been on the hunt for the best Mexican Pepita Pesto recipe. I’ve embarked on culinary adventures at local restaurants in Cuba, Belize, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Curacao, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil.
After eating your way through Mexican enjoy serving this healthy Pepita Pesto for friends and family. You can add additional Mexican flavours by incorporating fresh lime juice, spicy jalapeno or smoky chipotle.
Where To Eat Pepita Pesto
Haven’t traveled to Mexico before? It may be helpful to first sample healthy Pepita Pesto at a local restaurant to better understand how it is served. You’ll get an idea for the ideal thickness and consistency and learn unique ways to serve it, as a spread on sandwiches or the base of a flavourful pasta sauce.
In Toronto, the best Mexican restaurants that may offer Vegan Pepita Pesto include El Rey, La Carnita, Playa Cabana, El Catrin, Campechano, El Trompo, Fonda Lola, Hot Mess Tex Mex, Rosalinda, Reposado Bar, Grand Electric and Milagro.
Join Dobbernationloves founder Andrew Dobson in the kitchen by signing up for a fun virtual cooking class! Classes begin with a cocktail that you can sip while preparing 2-3 recipes that are curated around a unique culinary theme. Check out our current Cooking Class Schedule!
My Family Loves Pesto with Pumpkin Seeds
I love cooking Mexican food at home for my friends and family.
I first made this Vegan Pesto with Pumpkin Seeds for my family as a healthy dip during the summer at our cottage in Muskoka.
The leftover Pepita Pesto is always stored in the fridge and can be used in a myriad of ways.
- simply serve it as a dip with nachos and crostini
- slather it on bread as a flavourful spread for sandwiches, wraps or tacos
- simmer in a pan with olive oil or cream to make a sauce perfect for tossing in pasta
- if you like to make homemade sourdough pizza use this pepita pesto as your base sauce.
- serve pesto with pumpkin seeds during barbecue season on your favourite beef steak, pork chops, roast chicken, or grilled seafood
Vegan Pepito Pesto Health Benefits
Our Mexican Pesto with Pumpkin Seeds recipe is packed full of healthy ingredients!
Olive Oil is ranked as one of the healthiest fats and is a staple in the Mediterranean diet. It contains vitamins E and K and plenty of beneficial fatty acids and antioxidants.
A good source of bone-strengthening vitamin K, cilantro is also rich in antioxidants that help protect the eyes from damage by free radicals.
An excellent source of vitamin K, as well as vitamin C, folate, and iron, parsley helps keep your bones and blood healthy, and protects your skin from damage by free radicals.
It is only recently that scientists have begun to identify the components responsible for garlic’s myriad health benefits. Rich in phytochemicals and potassium, garlic helps boost your immune system, fight cancer and protect your heart.
Pepitas are a low-calorie snack: a one-ounce serving has only 170 calories and 4 grams of carbohydrates while providing 15 grams of heart-healthy fats and 9 grams of protein. Pepitas are filled with beneficial vitamins and minerals, like iron, zinc, manganese, phosphorous, and magnesium.
Pesto with Pumpkin Seeds Recipe Cooking Tips
Pepita Pesto is quick and easy to make at home. It’s the perfect condiment for vegans or vegetarians to store in the fridge to add flavour to their favourite meals.
- The best way to prepare Pesto with Pumpkin Seeds is in a Food Processor.
- You can use raw pepita or toasted pepita but we prefer the raw version. Try both to discover your favourite method!
- You can adjust the amount of raw garlic in the recipe based on your preference.
- We like to prepare this pesto with olive oil but you can substitute with more affordable canola oil if you prefer.
- If you’re a cheese lover feel free to add crumbled Mexican queso to the dip for a creamy flavour.
- If you like spicy food why not add finely chopped jalapeno peppers? Or even better add your own fermented jalapenos!
- Add a squirt of lime to give the pesto an additional zing!
- Add a smoky flavour to the dip by incorporating ground chipotle pepper.
What To Serve with Pepita Pesto
There’s nothing more satisfying than munching through a bowl of healthy Pepita Pesto.
The simplest way to enjoy eating our favourite vegan Mexican dip is by scooping it with nachos, crostini or carrot and celery sticks.
It can also be used as a condiment with your favorite grilled meats and seafood, sandwich spread, pizza base or pasta sauce.
If you’re hosting a Mexican-themed dinner party you might want to serve our Pesto with Pumpkin Seeds with:
- Mexican Vegan Cucumber Radish Salad with Chipotle Peanuts
- Albondigas al Chipotle Smoky Mexican Meatballs
- Salsa de Huevo Vegetarian Mexican Scrambled Eggs
- Tommy’s Margarita Cocktail
- Mexican Mule Tequila
- Easy Homemade Air Fryer Nachos
- Healthy Vegetarian Chipotle Mexican Bean Soup
- Easy Cheesy Vegetarian Antojito
- Healthy Keto Jalapeno Poppers
- Chicken Fajita Tacos Recipe
- Healthy Mexican Sweet Potato Rice
- Best Mexican Queso Recipes
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How To Make Vegan Mexican Pepita Pesto
Mexican Pesto with Pumpkin Seeds
- Food Proessor
- measuring cups
- measuring spoons
- French knife
- 1 1/2 cups Cilantro chopped
- 2 cups Parsley chopped
- 6 Garlic Cloves
- 1 cup Raw Pepitas Pumpkin Seeds
- 1/2 tsp Kosher Salt
- 1/2 cup Olive Oil
- Put the cilantro and parsley in a food processor and add the garlic, pepitas, and salt. Pulse for 5 seconds and then scrape down the sides of the bowl. Repeat then pulsing and scraping about 5 more times, until the ingredients are finely minced.
- While the machine is running, slowly pour the olive oil through the feed tube, processing until the pesto is combined and looks like a coarse meal, about 30 seconds, scraping down sides if necessary.
- Taste and adjust the seasoning with more salt as needed. Use the pesto immediately or transfer it to an airtight container or glass jar and refrigerate for up to 3 days.
- Serving suggestions include a sauce for burritos or tacos, grilled steak, chicken or pasta.
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