Mexican pasta with cilantro pepita pesto

I’m a sucker for fusion food. This dish combines two of my favorite cuisines: Italian and Mexican food.

Pesto is probably my favorite pasta sauce and I usually buy it in bulk at Costco. But when my friend gifted me some adorable sombrero shaped pasta, I had to mix it up.

The recipe is super simple. Just sautee some veggies, boil some pasta, make the sauce in the food processor, and combine. I used zucchini and bell peppers since I had them on hand and they’re in both Mexican and Italian cuisine, but use whatever you like.


  • 8.8 oz pasta (200 grams)
  • 2 cups chopped veggies (I used red and yellow bell peppers and zucchini)
  • 2 cups cilantro leaves (2 bunches), roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup and 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup pepitas, plus more for garnish
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1/4 cup cotija cheese


  1. Over medium-high heat, sautee veggies in 2 tablespoons olive oil until cooked but still firm, about 7-8 minutes.
  2. In a food processor, combine olive oil, pepitas, garlic, salt, and lime juice. Pulse until combined. Keep pulsing, adding cilantro in batches until all cilantro is used and a coarse paste forms. Set aside.
  3. Boil pasta according to package instructions, making sure pasta is al dente (firm to the touch). Drain pasta water and do not run under cold water. (The cold water washes away the starch, and the starch helps the sauce stick to the pasta.)
  4. Plate pasta. Top with veggies, drizzle with sauce, and garnish with cotija cheese and pepitas. Serve immediately.

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