Toasted Garlic and Pumpkin Seed Pesto

Until you make this, you won't know how many of your favorite dishes are improved with a plop of pumpkin seed pesto. Soups, stews, pasta, omelets, sandwiches, veggie burgers, burritos, enchiladas, tacos, ice cream (yep...try vanilla with this pesto and a sprinkle of pan roasted ground cinnamon!), or something as simple as roast squash and avocado as in the picture above.'re just going to have to give it a go and then tell me what you like to plop it on!
The original recipe comes from Susan Spicer's Crescent City Cooking, but I skipped toasting the pumpkin seeds and used the organic spicy tamari roasted pumpkin seeds we have right now in Seasonal Specials. I'm going to give you Susan's recipe out of the book so you can make it with plain pumpkin seeds too. I have a couple of notes which I have added to the bottom of the recipe. Enjoy!

Toasted Garlic and Pumpkin Seed Pesto

Makes 2 cups

1 cup olive oil
3 garlic cloves, sliced
1/2 cup green shelled pumpkin seeds, aka "pepitas"
1/4 cup crumbled feta or cotija cheese*
1 bunch cilantro, coarsely chopped (both the leaves and the tender stems)**
 1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil or parsley, tightly packed
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
Crushed red pepper flakes ***

Warm 1/2 cup olive oil over low heat in a small skit and add the sliced garlic. Raise the heat to medium and saute until garlic is lightly tanned and aromatic. Remove garlic from oil with a slotted spoon and drain on a paper towel.

Add pumpkin seeds to the oil and raise heat to medium-high, stirring. Cook for about 2 minutes until seeds start to crackle and pop (be careful!) and are lightly browned. Remove seeds from oil with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Reserve the oil.

When the garlic and pumpkin seeds have cooled, transfer to the bow of a food processor, and add the cheese and herbs. Pulse 3 or 4 times until well mixed. Add vinegar and the reserved garlic oil. With the motor running, slowly pour in remaining olive oil until the mixture reaches desired consistency. Season to taste with salt and red pepper.

* Cotija Cheese is what I used because I had it on hand, but there isn't much difference when made with feta. As you can see, there is such a small amount of cheese used that you could leave it out to make it vegan. You may want to use a tablespoon or so of fresh breadcrumbs as it will help the pesto bind together.

** If your herbs are not pre-washed, be sure to wash them well and then dry them before making the pesto otherwise you'll have gritty pesto. Eww.

*** If you are using the spicy roasted pumpkin seeds you can not only skip the pumpkin seed toasting part, but also, don't add the red pepper flakes unless you like it really spicy.