This was something I first tried a few months ago, it’s slightly less seasonal now but still just as frugal and you can always replace the squash seeds with pumpkin seeds from a packet.
Anyway, I’d bought a squash with the usual plans to roast and mix with pasta/risotto/whiz into soup, when a though occurred to me; could you eat squash seeds the same way you could eat pumpkin seeds? I couldn’t see why not, they’re basically just variants on the same fruit. So I Googled it, and according to the internet you can.
Alongside the seeds I had some parsley and some hard goats cheese in the fridge both of which needed using up, so I decided I’d have a go at turning the seeds into pesto using a recipe I’d seen recently in my new copy of River Cottage Every Day. My first attempt wasn’t quite as successful as my decision to roast the seeds first seemingly turned them into seed shaped rocks which nearly taxed my food processor to the limit when I tried to grind them down. For my second attempt a few weeks later I used the seeds raw which made them much easier to process, but bear in mind they will still take longer than you’d expect to grind down.
The decision to add chilli was a last minute thing as I panicked my boyfriend wouldn’t eat it otherwise, but actually I really like the extra kick that it gives.
Squash Seed, Parsley, Chilli and Goat’s Cheese Pesto
Makes one jar
- Seeds from inside one squash, washed clean and dried (My seeds came from a Queensland Blue squash ordered from Earth Natural Foods through Hubbub)
- OR 75g pumpkin seeds
- 1 clove garlic
- A large bunch parsley (about 50g), leaves only
- 150ml-200ml rapeseed or extra virgin olive oil
- 50g mature hard goat’s cheese, broken up into chunks
- 3 whole dried red chillis, or about 1/2tsp chilli flakes
- Juice 1/2 lemon
- Pinch salt and freshly ground black pepper
Put the squash seeds and garlic in a food processor and blitz until the seeds are coarse grains, warning: this will probably take longer than you might expect.
Add the parsley, dried chillies and goat’s cheese* and blitz again until everything is finely chopped and combined.
With the machine running slowly pour in the oil, in a steady stream until you have a thick grainy paste the consistency of pesto.
Add the lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste, scoop out and into a sterilised jar and cover the top with a thin layer of oil. This should now keep in the fridge for about a month.
I served mine tossed through spaghetti with roasted chunks of the squash I took the seeds from.
*Hugh’s recipe calls for the cheese to be finely grated and stirred into the pesto AFTER adding the oil. Whether this makes a difference I’m not sure but I didn’t see the point in faffing about with extra grating and stirring when I could just chuck the cheese into the food processor and let it do the job for me. If anyone does know a reason for adding the cheese afterwards I’d love to know.