More Pesto! Rocket and pumpkin seed recipe


Our nettle pesto recipe was good, but a bit short-lived, so with one eye on the freezer we made a big batch of rocket pesto today. We’ve got a whole load of rocket in the garden at the moment, and we need to eat it up before it swamps the courgettes it’s sharing a bed with.

Rocket always reminds me of when my dad planted a load of it back in the 1980s. It cast quite a spell over those long, bland days of the iceberg lettuce. What was this exotic, vigorous patch of green in the garden? A salad leaf that tastes of something? It seemed pretty revolutionary…

While I still like it in sandwiches and salads, the current crop is mostly going to be the base of a load of pesto to pack in the freezer for enjoying later in the year. The recipe’s pretty much the same as the one with nettles earlier this year, but with a bit of extra kick. I used pumpkin seeds again – but with some of the rest of the rocket, I’ll make some with pine nuts too.

Using these quantities, you end up with about 630g of pesto, enough to store in about 3 small jars (or to store in the freezer in freezer bags – 200g portions will be enough for four people with pasta) it’s easy to scale it down, just make sure you’ve got enough spare ingredients to adjust the balance. To make any more that this, you’ll need a good sized food processor or you’ll have to do a lot pounding.


  • A big bowl of rocket, about 200g in weight
  • 150g pumpkin seeds (or pine nuts)
  • 75g Parmesan (or old Pecorino)
  • 300ml extra virgin olive oil (cut with normal olive oil to economise)
  • the juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • salt to taste


  • First toast the pumpkin seeds lightly in a heavy-based frying pan. Watch them so they don’t burn. You want some, but not all, to be a golden brown colour. Put them aside to cool.
  • Start off by whizzing the rocket in a food processor to reduce its bulk. Then add all the other ingredients and pulse it until you’ve got the right consistency. Don’t add all the oil at once – start low & stop when you get to how you want it to be. Taste, adjust quantities and season.
  • If you don’t want to use a food processor, you’ll need a big pestle and mortar – pound all the ingredients together.



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