Aarón’s Cilantro-Cotija Pesto

The magnificent Chef Aarón Sánchez shares his recipe for an easy and delicious Latin-inspired pesto. Try it with your favorite pasta!

  • Servings 2 cups
  • 30 mins.
  • Easy



  • 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 Jalapeño, coarsely chopped (include seeds for additional spice)
  • 2 Garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
  • ½ crumbled Cotija cheese 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 purée.
  4. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Pro Tips

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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