Basil, Parsley and Pumpkin Seed Pesto

Greek Style Basil, Curly Parsley and Pumpkin Seed Pesto

Greek Style Basil, Curly Parsley and Pumpkin Seed Pesto

After traipsing to the superstore yesterday, and spending most of the time there wandering aimlessly, I happened upon their reduced section. Normally I wouldn’t bother to look as I have to carry the stuff three miles back home. However, there were small pots of fresh sun dried tomato pesto at 75% off. Had to grab one of those, if for no other reason it was going to mean I wouldn’t have to cook when I got back, excepting for boiling some pasta – which isn’t really cooking, let’s face it. And it tasted just about okay…ish – and this is their finest range I’m talking about – but it left me hungry. To the extent that two bananas later – after a large bowl of dessert –  I finally managed to get some sleep. They really screw themselves, and their consumers over, by not adding enough protein. In this instance pine nuts. Hah! They’re expensive. We all know that. But to skimp on those is an absolute no, no. Seriously, there must’ve been all of three of the damn things in the entire pot! Besides anything else, I’ve never cared for the texture of the skins of sun dried toms. So! As I went there to buy fresh sage – and couldn’t buy it as there wasn’t any to be had – I went with a large bag of cut fresh curly parsley instead. Perfect to use some of it within another home-made Greek style basil, parsley and pumpkin seed pesto, then. And to use up mature growth of my Greek style basil, which needs to be chopped back to encourage new basal growth before winter. Well, if you’re going to be using herbs that are mature in growth, or late in their season, then my advice is to taste the leaves before using. Even after tearing off, and I’m talking carefully, the tenderest tips of the basil plant its flavour was verging on pungent. Which is why the ratio within ingredients below is as is. As it was way too strong in flavour to use any more of it. And I ended up cooking the pesto over low heat before adding it to the cooked pasta for a late lunch. Which helped to dissipate the strength of the basil and combine all of the other flavours used – ended up far nicer than their finest!

Greek Style Basil, Curly Parsley and Pumpkin Seed Pesto


  • 30g (1.058 oz) x organic pumpkin seeds, dry roasted and roughly chopped
  • 1 x loosely packed tablespoon Greek style basil, leaves and the very tender tips of stems only
  • 10g (0.353 oz) x curly leaf parsley, the leaves only (used stems in stocks), rinsed and coarsely chopped
  • 1 x garlic clove, root end cut off, peeled and crushed
  • 1/2 x green finger chilli (Scoville heat units: up to 50,000), finely chopped including seeds OR up to 1/2 x teaspoon red pepper flakes, less or more to personal taste (start off with less)
  • 4 x tablespoons extra virgin olive oil + extra to personal taste
  • 20g (0.705 oz) x Grana Padano (or use Parmesan), freshly grated
  • freshly ground black pepper, to personal taste (taste the cheese being used to determine how salty the pesto is! My cheese was way too salty for my liking, and I didn’t need to add any further salt to my lunch – shan’t be buying that particular Grana Padano again)

Measurements within brackets above are approximate only.


  • If and when I’m baking, and need to roast nuts as well, then the nuts, or seeds in this case, are added to a suitable dish, placed in a cold oven and then, when the oven has preheated, that’s usually long enough time to roast the nuts/seeds. Or, add them to a dry pan/skillet on the hob/stove over low heat only and, shaking the pan occasionally, roast them until they’re fragrant or have changed colour.
  • After preparing all of the ingredients add them to a large bowl and mix thoroughly. Taste for any extra needed parsley, or basil if using freshly bought, and add extra virgin olive oil to personal taste.
  • If the flavours of the herbs are quite pungent then add the pesto to a saucepan over low heat only and cook out the rawness of both the garlic and fresh chilli, if using. It will help to diminish any strong flavours.


Curly parsley, garlic, pumpkin seeds, Greek style basil and finger chilli

Clockwise from top left: crushed garlic, roasted pumpkin seeds, Greek style basil, finger chilli and curly parsley

All photographs within (Todas las fotografías dentro de) Kitschnflavours:
All rights reserved (© Todos los derechos reservados) - Copyright © Johnny Hepburn


    • That’s something I’ve never bothered to do! I’m guessing the seeds need to be dried first before using. As I happen to have a small selection this year – well, two differing types of pumpkin and several squash (that’s a record for me as I usually can’t buy them!) I’m going to have to try and dry the seeds instead of buying in shop-bought. They were really nice in this pesto :)

    • Yes, I agree, the addition of that heat really does it for me with pesto. There was a certain sourness to this initially, probably as the basil was way beyond its sell-by date (so to speak). Which the finger chilli added to in its raw state. Cooking this pesto over low heat really did the trick.

  1. It’s Hallowe’en this week and that means I’ll be hollowing out pumpkins and roasting the seeds. Cannot wait to try this. But those chocolate cookies you just posted will have to come first. ;)

    • Hahaha! Now I know your priorities! Yes, I do like pumpkin seeds. Always have a pack of them in my cupboard. Although, I’m nearly out of them. Shame, as I would’ve made more of this and stored it in the fridge.

    • A cheaper version! As in pesto without pine nuts/kernels. They’re ridiculously expensive over here. Which is why my three pestos so far don’t use them. I do agree with the crunch factor. That’s the problem with shop-bought. Regardless of how few pine nuts there were in the one I bought all of them were soggy. I far prefer the nuts used in pesto to be coarsely chopped so there’s a bit of a crunch.

  2. This sounds wonderful! Being completely honest, I’m not a huge fan of pine nuts so I am always looking for fun and interesting ways to make pesto. My fall back is generally walnuts. But I love the idea of using pumpkin seeds!!

    • Walnuts are so good. I’ve just roasted loads for my sups to go with pan-fried mushrooms, cream and pasta. Really good combination. Might even go with it as a new post. Anyway, I ended up using pumpkin seeds partly as so many of them will be chucked in the bin over the next few days! Well, less so here in the UK as pumpkin isn’t nearly as popular. The seeds are so nutritious and flavoursome that I love to use them as often as I can.

    • Most nuts are cheaper than pine nuts over here! Apart from macadamia. Yes, I tend to use them a lot in salads. And this time I wanted to try them roasted and crushed. Apparently, they make a really nice sauce if ground with coriander (as in herb) and something else. Oops, have forgotten already!

  3. Hi Johnny! I’m enjoying making different pestos and I also noticed that pine nut prices seem to be astronomical. Has it always been that way or do I just think they’ve flew? I love how your pesto looks with bigger chunks. cheers!

    • Pine nuts have been horribly expensive here for ages! To me they’re not worth it. I do like them. But there are so many other affordable choices, that are equally as tasty and good for you, that I just don’t bother to buy them.

      Yes, I keep the nuts chunky as I far prefer the texture. Besides, I still haven’t found an electric grinder!

  4. I’ll use pumpkin seeds the next time I make pesto! You prepare your pesto exactly how I love it. (coarsely chopped, a bit chunky) My greek basil is done for the season. The leaves ended up being so thyme and now I think about it and the texture resembled thyme too, and like you mentioned very intense with flavor. Your Flours n dainty buns is fabulous!!! :)

    • Oh yes, I could tell just by nipping off those leaves of my Greek style basil that their flavour was going to be strong. I had wanted to reheat poached chicken with the stems (like you have done), but if the leaves were anything to go by I figured the flavour of the stems was going to be too intense.

      Thank you re Flours n Dainty Buns. I have to admit I’ve been lax at blogging recently. Somehow I keep re-editing photos and text from old posts. Don’t quite know why I’m bothering to do that?!

    • Surprisingly, it doesn’t state where my organic pumpkin seeds are from. Europe, I suppose. I’ve heard of a really nice organic pumpkin seed oil from Austria. Haven’t seen it for sale over here, though.

      Last night, for the first time, I decided to roast some pumpkin seeds rather than chuck ‘em. Hah, oven was too hot. Will try again tonight!

  5. I’m not sure why, but this post didn’t show up on my reader. It’s happened before with another blog that I love to follow and I ended up having to sign up for email notifications instead…
    A good, simple pesto is one of my favourite things to eat with pasta. I haven’t ever tried it with pumpkin seeds before – will have to give it a try!

    • Ah, that post was confused! As in I tried to publish between time zones. Just missed British Summer Time (by minutes) so this ended up trapped within both BST and BWT, if that makes sense.

      Yes, loving home-made pestos. Do wish I was more organised to be able to make batches and store them. Although, if and when I do that I’ll keep any seeds/nuts separate so they don’t go soggy. Besides, it’s pumpkins are all and everything over here right now. Ever increasingly popular, including differing squash available in the stores – even they have caught on to this relatively new fad.

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