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This Pumpkin Seed Pesto with Orzo and Peas is a quick and easy high-protein lunch or dinner that’s packed with greens and happens to be totally vegan and gluten-free!
For this healthy pasta sauce, we’re swapping classic pine nuts with pumpkin seeds. They’re more affordable but also higher in protein! This is an easy way to sneak in plant-based protein and make a delicious nut-free pesto alternative.
Ingredients for Pumpkin Seed Pesto
Here’s what you need for creamy green pesto made with pumpkin seeds:
Pumpkin seeds. Look for toasted seeds for a more intense flavor.
Olive oil. You can also use 50/50 cultured oil and olive oil if you prefer.
Fresh basil. A must for pesto! This is a great low-waste recipe to save any basil before it goes bad.
Nutritional yeast. For that cheesy flavor without any dairy.
Lemon. This adds brightness and helps the pesto maintain its vibrant color.
Garlic. Use fresh garlic for the best flavor.
Once your pumpkin seed pesto is whipped up, turn it into a meal. I like to toss it with gluten-free orzo. I use a high-protein chickpea orzo for extra protein. Plus, toss in some fresh peas for even more green. Top each bowl with vegan parmesan or grated hazelnuts or macadamia nuts for added richness and texture.
For garnish, I add broccoli sprouts or microgreens, which are jam-packed with vitamins and minerals.
Storing Pumpkin Seed Pesto
You can store leftover pesto sauce in airtight container in the fridge or freezer. Defrost overnight to serve. It will last for one to two days in the fridge before it starts to lose its bright color.
Can I Make Pumpkin Seed Pesto for Meal Prep?
Yes! Simply prepare your pesto and toss it with slightly cooled orzo. Then divide between containers and store for up to three days. This is a great dish to eat chilled for lunch.
1/2cup olive oil (or use 1/4 cup cultured oil and 1/4 cup olive oil)
2cups fresh basil
2 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes
juice of 1 lemon
3 cloves garlic
salt, to taste
broccoli sprouts or other microgreens
toasted hazelnut, microplaned or use vegan cheese
black pepper, to taste
Bring a pot of water to a boil and generously salt the water. Cook your orzo according to package directions, strain and toss with a touch of neutral oil or vegan butter to avoid sticking.
Next, to prepare your pesto, add pumpkin seeds, basil, nutritional yeast, lemon juice and garlic to start. Pulse until everything is nicely broken down. Add half of your oil as your blend, then the remaining half. You may need to use a spatula to scrape down the walls of your food processor in between.
Add salt to taste, then add the pesto to your cooked orzo and toss.
In a separate pan, add olive oil and sauté garlic until fragrant. Add your fresh peas and sauté for another 2-3 minutes until lightly golden brown. Add salt to taste, then add peas to the orzo and toss again.
To serve, top with microgreens, grated hazelnut or vegan cheese and black pepper to finish.
Hi there, I’m Remy! Welcome to Veggiekins Blog, home to nourishing vegan + gluten-free recipes and tips to live your best balanced and holistic life. I’m a human on a mission to empower you to be well and be kind to your mind, body and soul with the healing power of plants.
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