Condiments, Dips & Sauces, Fall, recipes, vegetarian

Pumpkin Pesto – Here’s How To Make Healthy Pesto

Imagine the salty taste of sun-dried tomatoes and the nutty bitter note of arugula. Then think of the delicious tangy flavor of Parmesan cheese and the sweet nutty note of Hokkaido pumpkin. Is your mouth watering yet? Well mine definitely is, especially when I think of how all these delicious flavors come together in just one pesto. And today I’m going to show you how to make this incredibly delicious pumpkin pesto. It’s a realy quick and easy recipe and the pesto goes well with pasta, on bread or even as a dip or sauce with veggies or meat. Making pumpkin pesto yourself is so super easy and the homemade pesto is much healthier than any store-bought sauce. So without further ado, let’s dive right in and let me show you how to make healthy pesto at home.

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The JBR Health Check: What To Know About Hokkaido Pumpkin

Pumpkins and espacially the Hokkaido pumpkin have always been very popular. And over the past few years they become even more popular and the famous Starbucks pumpkin spice latte isn’t the only reason for that. In addition to their delicious nutty, sweet flavor, Hokkaido pumpkins are also really healthy. If you take a closer look at the nutrients of the Hokkaido, you will notice that it has an incredibly high potassium content. On only 100g of flesh, the pumpkin contains 490 milligrams of potassium, which covers 70 percent of our daily needs. By the way, the potassium has a stimulating effect on the kidney and bladder activity and helps to dehydrate our body.

Hokkaido pumpkin
What to know about Hokkaido pumpkin

In addition to potassium, the Hokkaido pumpkin, which, by the way, originally comes from the Japanese peninsula of Hokkaido, has a lot of beta-carotene. Hence the orange color. Beta-carotene is converted by our body into vitamin A and thus supports cell growth, protects against too rapid cell aging and is good for vision. In addition, Hokkaido pumpkins are rich in vitamin B1, B2, B6 and vitamin C. And, not to mention, they are also easy to digest.

Enough reasons to take advantage of the Hokkaido season and to eat them more often. By the way, the season runs from early fall until November. However, since the pumpkins can be stored quite well, you can still find them in December or even in January for purchase in grocery stores.

Can You Eat The Hokkaido Pumpkin Skin?

Another reason why the Hokkaido pumpkin enjoyed such huge popularity is its ease of preparation. Because unlike other types of pumpkin, the Hokkaido does not need to be peeled. The thin skin becomes quite soft when cooked or baked and has a sweet, nutty flavor, as does the flesh. In addition, many of the valuable vitamins and ingredients are located directly under the skin. Hence if you cut off the skin, you would remove them as well. Therefore, you can easily process the pumpkin with the skin. Just wash it thoroughly, cut it in half and then remove the flesh. Then you can dice it, cut it into wedges, or bake it in the oven to make pumpkin puree.

Can you eat the Hokkaido Pumpkin skin?

Make Your Own Pumpkin Pesto

One of my very favorite recipes with Hokkaido pumpkins is pumpkin pesto. Since if you bake the pumpkin in the oven, its flesh becomes buttery soft. This makes it perfect for creating a healthy pumpkin pesto. But in order to make the pumpkin pesto tastes really delicious, we need a few more ingrediets. So let me briefly introduce them.

Pumpkin Pesto – Here’s what you need to make a healthy pesto:

  • approx. 6 oz of raw Hokkaido pumpkin
  • one clove of garlic
  • 1.5 oz sundried tomatoes (5-6 pieces)
  • 1 oz of Parmesan cheese
  • 1.5 oz or two handful fresh arugula
  • 5 branches of fresh basil
  • one teaspoon olive oil and two teaspoons soy sauce
how to make healthy pesto
How to make healthy pesto? Here’s what you need for this healthy pumpkin pesto recipe.

Here’s How To Make Healthy Pesto With Hokkaido Pumpkin – Step 1

First you need to preheat your oven to 200°C / 400°F. Meanwhile, you can already wash your pumpkin, cut it in half and scoop out the seeds. Then, cut off a piece of one half weighing about 170 grams or 6 ounces and place it on a baking sheet. The rest of the pumpkin can either be wrapped in foil and stored in the refrigerator for a day or two to be used otherwise. Or you can chop it up into coarser pieces and bake them in the oven as well. Once they are nicely soft, you can mash them with a fork and make your own pumpkin puree. You can use it for some delicious pumpkin baking recipes like my pumpkin banana bread or even for your daily breakfast. Definitely check out my Instargram story highlight “pumpkin oatmeal” if you’re interested in some more tasty pumpkin recipes.

Okay enough distraction, back to the main topic! Put the pumpkin in the oven for about 25 to 30 minutes, or until the flesh is buttery soft. Add the unpeeled garlic clove for the last 10 minutes. To prevent it from burning, you can also brush it with a little olive oil beforehand.

How To Make Healthy Pumpkin Pesto – Step 2

Once the pumpkin is prepared you are ready to go. Put the pumpkin in a tall container, peel the garlic clove and add it along with the sun-dried tomatoes. Cut the Parmesan cheese into very small cubes and add it to the container. Then you can add the washed basil and half of the arugula. Finally, just add the olive oil and soy sauce and you’re good to go! Grab your emergency blender and blend everything into a smooth mixture. When the volume has already reduced a bit, you can add the remaining arugula and continue to blend everything thoroughly until you have a smooth pesto. Of course you can also you a regular blender instead of the emergency blender.

Then feel free to season it with a little salt and pepper and transfer it to an airtight container. I like to use such mason jars for this purpose. So I don’t forget them in the refrigerator. Speaking of the fridge, feel free to store the pesto in the fridge for up to a week. However, I bet that it never lasts that long. 🙂

Pumpkin Pesto - Here's how to make healthy pesto

Recipe Ideas For Your Homemade Pumpkin Pesto

As you can see, making healthy pesto on your own couldn’t be easier. And once you try it, you’ll see that it goes well with almost anything. But if you need a little inspiration, here are a few more ideas for you.

It’s probably no surprise if I tell you that your homemade pumpkin pesto goes great with pasta. But you can just boil some whole wheat pasta, sauté some veggies, chicken, shrimp or tofu and serve it all together with this pesto. I make this on a regular basis right now and it tastes just amazing. Plus, you can also use this pumpkin pesto to flavor sauces or dishes. Just take a look at my savoy cabbage wraps.

Making your own pumpkin pesto has another advantage. If you have a jar of it in the fridge, you should definitely try it on a slice of bread. The intense flavor makes it such a great alternative to butter. And short spoiler: in the upcoming days there will be a delicious vegetarian sandwich with this pumpkin pesto on my blog. So one more reason to try it right now and make this easy homemade pumpkin pesto!

Recipe FAQ for how to make healthy pesto with pumpkin

Do I need to peel the Hokkaido Pumpkin?

No, you do not have to peel the Hokkaido pumpkin. The thin skin of the pumpkin becomes very soft during cooking or baking and has a sweet, nutty flavor, just like the flesh. In addition, many of the valuable vitamins and ingredients of the pumpkin sit directly under the skin. Hence, would you also remove them if you cut off the peel. Therefore, you can easily use the pumpkin with the skin. Just wash it thoroughly, cut it in half and then remove the flesh.

How to make pumpkin puree?

Pumpkin puree is very easy to make yourself. Simply wash, halve and remove the seeds from your pumpkin. Then cut the halves slightly smaller and place them on a baking sheet. Bake them at 200°C / 400°F for 25 to 30 minutes or until the flesh is buttery soft. You can then mash it with a fork or potato masher, or simply puree it with a blender.

How to make vegan pumpkin pesto?

Although I have not tried it myself, I know that there are plenty of vegan cheese products in the grocery stores. If you find any vegan cheese which is similar to regular hard cheese like Parmesan, you can use it to make this pumpkin pesto. And that is all you have to change in order to make a vegan pumpkin pesto.

How to store this homemade pumpkin pesto?

You can store the pumpkin pesto in an airtight container in the refrigerator for about a week. However, I don’t think it will last you that long … 🙂

Any further questions?

Do you still have a question? Then feel free to comment down below. I will be happy to answer you!

How to make healthy pesto
Healthy, homemade pumpkin pesto

Healthy Pumpkin Pesto

I hope you like the recipe and give it a try. Making pumpkin pesto yourself is so easy and the pesto tastes so much better than the ones you get in the supermarket. And on top of that homemade pestos are much healthier and lower in calories. If you like the recipe, I would appreciate a review of it in the comments. And of course, I would love to be tagged in your pumpkin pesto pictures or stories on Instagram (@julesbalancedrecipes).

Have fun trying it out and bon appétit,

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pumpkin pesto - here's how to make healthy pesto

Homemade Pumpkin Pesto

Julia Schmitt
Here's how to make healthy pesto! This healthy homemade pumpkin pesto combines the buttery, nutty flavor of pumpkin with fresh arugula, basil and sun-dried tomatoes.
No ratings yet
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 5 mins
Total Time 35 mins
Course Pesto, sauce, Side Dish
Servings 6 Portionen
Calories 48 kcal


  • oven and baking sheet
  • emergency blender or food processor


  • approx. 170 g raw Hokkaido pumpkin (~ 6 oz)
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 40 g sun-dried tomatoes (not pickled in oil) (~1.5 oz or 5-6 pieces)
  • 25 g Parmesan cheese (1 oz)
  • 40 g arugula (~1.5 oz or two handful)
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp soy sauce


step 1: prepare the pumpkin puree

  • Preheat oven to 200°C / 400°F. Wash pumpkin, cut in half, remove seeds and coarsely chop. Place about 170g (6 oz) raw pumpkin flesh on a baking sheet and bake in the oven at 200° for 25 to 30 minutes until soft. Drizzle unpeeled garlic clove with a little oil and add to oven for the last 10 minutes.

step 2: pesto

  • Put the soft pumpkin pieces in a tall container, peel the garlic clove, add it. Chop parmesan and add with dried tomatoes, basil and about half of the arugula. Add olive oil and soy sauce and blend thoroughly with a emergency blender (or in a food processor). Add remaining arugula, continue blending until a smooth pesto is formed.
    Season with salt and pepper to taste and transfer to an airtight container. The pesto can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week.


Nutritional values per serving (1/6 of the total amount):
  • calories: 48 kcal
  • fat: 2,1 g
  • carbohydrates; 4,5 g
  • protein: 2,4g


Calories: 48kcal
Keyword autumn, fall, low calorie, low fat, Pesto
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