Pepita Pesto

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (9 votes, average: 3.67 out of 5)

1 Serving

Pepita Pesto

Categories > Dinner, Gluten Free, Grain Free, Sugar Free, Vegetarian

Chef Carla Contreras was inspired to create this pesto recipe after learning during her Nutritious Life Certification course that eating healthy doesn’t have to mean ditching pasta. (Yay!)

The key is loading up whatever dish you’re making with veggies, and using pesto as a sauce is a shortcut towards that goal. It means every bite will include fresh basil, garlic and more nutrient-dense foods.

In addition to pasta, Chef Carla suggests using this sauce mixed into a salad, on top of a cauliflower crust pizza, or over roasted chicken, veggies, or fish.

Want to use it all week long? For a fast weeknight meal, prep the pesto on the weekend and freeze it into an ice cube tray. “Once frozen, you can pop the cubes out and store in an airtight container,” she says. “When ready to use, they will defrost quickly. Toss in roasted or raw veggies, a chickpea pasta, or serve with spiralized noodles. It takes me longer to figure out what I want to order for takeout than to make this meal.”

Now that’s our kind of healthy dinner.

Recipe courtesy Chef Carla Contreras, founder of Cook + Chop.

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (9 votes, average: 3.67 out of 5)

1 Serving


1/2 cup olive oil

1 garlic clove, minced

1/4 cup grated Parmesan (optional)

1 lemon, juice plus zest

1/4 cup pepitas

1 bunch basil

1/8 teaspoon salt

3 to 5 cranks fresh ground pepper



  1. Add all the ingredient, in order, to a blender or food processor.
  2. Blend, taste, and add salt and pepper. (Add more lemon, if desired. If the pesto is too thick, you can always add a tablespoon or two of olive oil.)
  3. Enjoy for up to one week in the fridge. Store in the freezer or up to one month.


Fresh herbs like basil add flavor and nutrients to a meal, and pepitas are a nutrient-dense seed that can be tricky to get into your diet. Overall, it’s a fresh and simple sauce you can use on almost anything, and you can even it make it vegan by leaving out the Parmesan or subbing in nutritional yeast.

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