What often happens to me is that when I have sourdough bread I don't have anything to put on a slice of it. And when the fridge is full of pestos, cheese, fresh vegetables, etc., I don't have my sourdough bread (I could call this bad planning). I didn't want to make an exception this time either (read: no bread in the view), so I decided to make something that I could still eat with my spoon with no guilt. This is how roasted pumpkin seeds pesto with pumpkin seeds oil was born.
Whenever I think of pumpkin seeds I think of my mother's words of how they were her childhood sweets. She lived in the countryside where "real" sweets were something quite unreachable. 30 years later, she passed her healthy snack habit onto me and my brother and we would often take pumpkin seeds with us to a school trip which kept us full for a long time.
Pumpkin seeds (kernels) and pumpkin seed oil
Pumpkin seeds are a real nutrient-dense food as they provide a number of benefits to our body. They:
- contain a variety of antioxidants
- are a rich source of vitamins (especially E) and minerals such as phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, copper, iron and zinc. Zinc is important for sleep, mood, skin and prostate health and magnesium is beneficial for the blood pressure.
- are excellent source of plant-based omega 3s fats
- are rich in amino-acids and fibers. One of the important amino-acids is tryptophan which is converted into serotonin and afterwards into melatonin, a sleep hormone.
- are rich in natural phytoestrogens being beneficial for women in menopause
In Slovenia, pumpkin seed oil is considered as a true delicacy and it is made from an autochthonous pumpkin variety called Slovenska golica (Cucurbita pepo L.). Yellow colored pumpkins with green stripes is primarly cultivated for its seeds which are shelled and need no shelling prior to making oil.
Roasted pumpkin seeds pesto with pumpkin seed oil
Yields: 250 ml
150 g pumpkin seeds
80-90 g pumpkin seed oil
4 small pinches of finely ground sea salt or to taste
Optional: minced garlic
* to make larger quantities, scale accordingly
1. Roast the pumpkin seeds for 6-8 minutes at 180°C/350°F.
2. Let them cool.
3. Transfer the seeds to a blender or to a food processor and first ground them semi-finely (left photo below), take away 3-4 tablespoons of it to a jar, and then ground the rest again finely (right photo below).
4. Transfer the ground seeds into a jar, salt to taste and pour in pumpkin seed oil to get nicely spreadable consistency.
5. Enjoy freshly made or keep in the fridge.
You can use to pesto for pasta, soups, it's perfect on polenta, spread it over the slice of sourdough bread or mix it into salads.
Additional health tips:
To preserve the healthy unsaturated fats it's best to eat pumpkin seeds raw. If you would like to make pesto even healthier, skip the roasting step and proceed as written above or roast them at low temperatures, at 70°C/160°F for 15-20 minutes. In this way, you will still be able to enjoy the nutty aromas of roasted seeds.
As other nuts, pumpkin seeds also contain anti-nutricious phytic acid which can inhibit the availabilty of above mentioned minerals. If eaten in larger quantities, it is therefore advisable to soak or to sprout the seeds and deyhadrated them afterwards to make them more pleasant to taste.