Cilantro-Cotija Pesto

Makes 2 Cups


  • 1 cup unsalted raw or roasted pumpkin seeds

  • ½ bunch fresh cilantro, stems trimmed 2 inches from the bottom

  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves

  • 1 cup olive oil, plus extra for storage

  • ½ serrano chile or 1 jalapeno, coarsely chopped (include seeds for additional spice)

  • 2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped

  • ½ crumbled cotija (preferably Cacique brand) or shredded pecorino or Parmesan

  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper



  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F

  2. Spread the pumpkin seeds in an even layer on a dry baking sheet. Put the sheet in the oven and bake, checking them and shaking the pan every 3 minutes, until they start to dance, puff up and brown lightly, about 10 minutes.Take the pan out of the oven, transfer the seeds to a bowl and let cool to room temperature.

  3. Put the cilantro, basil and olive oil into a food processor, and puree for 2 minutes. Add the chile, garlic, pumpkin seeds and cotija and pulse until you have a coarse puree. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

*To store, put it into a container with a tight-fitting lid and pour ¼ inch of olive oil over the surface to keep out the air. Each time you use it, stir that oil in, and replace with another ¼ inch of oil before closing the container, this makes an airtight seal that will keep it tasting fresh for up to 10 days.

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