Chipotle Pepper and Pepita Seed Pesto

In order to make this:

spicy chicken sausage pizza with chipotle pepper and pepita seed pesto

I had to make this:

It’s no secret that I love pesto.  You could blend pretty much anything together and call it a pesto…and I’ll be in line to try it!

I wanted to make a spicy chicken sausage pizza with the new Gold’n Plump Hot Italian Chicken Sausages (which were delicious, by the way) that I received in the mail.

I was excited about the sausages because they are lower in calories and contain substantially less fat than regular pork sausage.  They’re nitrate free, dairy free and also gluten free!  Awesome!  Gold’n Plump is also a Minnesota company, and the chickens are raised on family farms just a few hours from where I live.   (More about these sausages later…along with a giveaway!)

I was aiming to recreate Zpizza’s Santa Fe pizza–it’s a spicy chicken sausage pizza that my husband absolutely loves.  I’ve never actually tried it, but he raves and raves about it every Monday, so I thought I’d check out the toppings online and figure out what makes this pizza so special.

Reading the ingredients, 2 words jumped out at me.  Chipotle Pesto.

I’ve never heard of such a thing, and I was curious.  I needed to make it, and I needed to make it now!    (Patience is not my strong point…).

I love a good challenge, so I started going through combinations in my head until I came up with what I thought would be the perfect recipe.

Not to toot my own horn or anything–but this pesto rocked!!!  🙂

I knew chipotle peppers and adobo sauce would be two key ingredients, and I figured I’d stick with the Parmesan cheese that you’d expect to find in a typical basil pesto.  I didn’t want to use pine nuts for two reasons.  One, they’re really expensive, and I didn’t want to use them in an experiment.  And Two, I didn’t know if the flavor would be what I was looking for.

I dug through my pantry…and there was my answer.  A big, unopened bag of Pepita Seeds (pumpkin seeds).

Pepita Seeds

Pepitas are the edible seeds inside the white hull of a pumpkin seed.  They’re a light green color, and have a mild pumpkin flavor.  They are commonly used in Mexican cuisine, so I figured they’d pair really well with the chipotle peppers.

If you’re unfamiliar with chipotles and have no idea where to find them, fear not!

Chipotle Peppers: what they lack in attractiveness, they make up for in flavor!

They’re simply smoked jalapeno peppers which are easily found in the Mexican isle of the super-market–usually packed in cans of adobo sauce.  They add a really wonderful smokey flavor to a dish–along with a little spice! (Be mindful when adding adobo to recipes, the sauce can be pretty spicy).

I grabbed a can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce out of the pantry and separated the chilies from the sauce.  I rinsed 5 chilies under cold water–just to get the sauce off–and then split them to remove the seeds.  If you really love spice, you could definitely leave the seeds in, but I thought it might just be a little too much for me.

Removing the seeds from a chipotle pepper.

When I finished prepping the chipotle peppers, I added them–along with garlic, parmesan, pepitas, adobo sauce and my homemade chili-garlic olive oil (recipe) into a food processor.

I pulsed everything together until it was well blended and at the consistency I wanted (although a little more oil would have maybe been nice).

It was so different.  The taste was an exciting explosion of flavor on my tongue!  It was sweet, smokey, salty, spicy all at once!

My recipe made about a cup of pesto, so I put it in a few jars and tossed it in the fridge until I was ready to use it.  I’m not real sure how long it would last, as I’ve never made it before, but I’d say at least a week in the fridge–longer if you toss it in the freezer instead (freeze it in ice-cube trays, then it’s perfectly portioned too!).

I’m really excited to share my Spicy Sausage Pizza with Chipotle Pepper and Pepita Seed Pesto recipe with you, but if that doesn’t sound like something you’d enjoy, you could definitely slather some pesto on slices of toasted french bread and top with roasted tomatoes and crumbled queso fresco!  YUM!

Or you could make some pasta and toss it with the pesto and a variety of vegetables.  That sounds good too!

Or maybe even use it to make a really unique quesidilla!  I’m imagining toasted tortillas filled with a mixture of shredded mozzarella, queso fresco, sliced green chilies (or bell peppers if you don’t want more spice), and chicken!

The options are endless!

Stay tuned for my pizza recipe—it’ll be showing up on my blog shortly.  You’ll also want to check back because the nice folks at Gold’n Plump have also agreed to give a chicken sausage sampler pack to one lucky reader!  Their new line includes:

  • Chicken Bratwursts
  • Hot Italian Chicken Sausage
  • Parmesan Italian Chicken Sausage
  • Apple Maple Breakfast Chicken Sausage Links

Gold’n Plump’s new chicken sausage line

Chipotle Pepper and Pepita Seed Pesto

(makes approximately 1 cup finished pesto)


  • 5 chipotle peppers- rinsed, seeded and roughly chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves- chopped
  • 3/4 c. Parmesan cheese- shredded
  • 1/2 c. pepitas- dry roasted
  • 1 tsp adobo sauce- or to taste (this can be spicy!)
  • 1/3c. to 1/2 c. chili-garlic olive oil (can substitute a different oil)
  • pepper/salt-to taste


  • Place the parmesan cheese in the food processor.  Process until the cheese becomes a fine powder.  Then add the pepita seeds to the cheese and process again.  Pulse until the seeds are finely chopped–don’t process too long though–you don’t want the seeds to begin to turn into nut-butter.
  • Add the chopped garlic, chipotle chiles, and adobo sauce.  Process until everything is well combined and it begins to take the form of a traditional pesto.
  • Turn the food processor onto the lowest speed and drizzle the oil into the mixture (while everything is being processed).  Stop adding oil once the mixture reaches your desired consistency.
  • Season with salt and pepper, if needed.  Transfer pesto into jars and store in the refrigerator for up to one week, or in the freezer for up to 2 months.

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I love chipotles! 🙂


12 thoughts on “Chipotle Pepper and Pepita Seed Pesto

  1. Aaron

    Looks good, I may have to try that. Tried your Cauliflower curry recipe, though substituted brussel sprouts for the cauliflower and green beans for the peas, since that is what I had. Overall it was pretty good, maybe not as creamy in texture as restaurant Tikka Masala, but I used fat free half and half and ground my own spices, which always seems to make my curries be gritty, though fresh flavor. Do you use pre-ground or whole spices in your curries?

    1. Shari Post author

      I’m glad you tried it, Aaron!

      Yes, you’ll notice the curry won’t be as thin and smooth as a restaurant—they typically use cream, and blend it in right at the end (so that nothing separates).

      I use both pre-ground and fresh. I prefer fresh, but honestly…I love the convenience of pre-ground. I usually grind them myself though using a coffee grinder or a mortar and pestle.

  2. Angelica

    I’m a fellow pesto enthusiast and this looks absolutely delicious! I’m very keen keen to hunt down some chipotle peppers (they aren’t too common here in Australia) and give this a go.

    Your photographs are wonderfully sharp and add such vitality to your recipes – can I ask whether you use a studio set-up or natural lighting? I unfortunately don’t have room for a studio in my apartment so I have to work with natural light for my blog images, as I loathe using a flash.

    1. Shari Post author

      Can you get jalapenos in Australia? I wonder if it’s possible to smoke your own? I’ve never tried making chipotle peppers…but I may have to give it a go!

      Also, thank you for the kind words regarding my photographs. I always feel so happy when someone compliments them because I put in a lot of time–and take hundreds that don’t make the cut.

      You would actually laugh at my set up. Nothing expensive what so ever. I have a tiny fold up table I keep in the kitchen, cover the table with a piece of fabric or a cutting board—something. I take the photos during the day time with natural light and prop a white foam board behind–to block out the wall, junk, garbage can…you know?

      and then I shoot away with my Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-H20 –it’s a point and shoot. I just looked it up on amazon and it says it’s around $500 but I swear my husband and I bought it about 3 years ago for around $250. We definitely didn’t spend $500…

      After I take the photos, I crop them and adjust the white balance if I need to. If the photos are re-sized, sometimes the sharpness needs to be adjusted a little too. But that’s about it!

      1. artalen

        Who would have guessed you were improvising from the clarity of your shots! And I know what you mean about the bulk of photos not making the cut – only about 10% of what I shoot I actually keep & publish.

        Love your work!

  3. artalen

    As a fellow pesto enthusiast, I’m keen to give this a go as it sounds (and looks!) delicious. I’ll have to go on the hunt for some chipotle peppers (they don’t seem to be very commonly found in Australia) but I’m sure it will be worth it.

    Your photography is wonderfully sharp and adds such vitality to your recipes – can I ask if you have a studio set-up or do you use natural light? I unfortunately don’t have room for a studio in my apartment so I have to rely on natural light for my blog images, as I really loathe using flash.

  4. Anastasia

    I love canning stuff! This looks like a great candidate if I want to pass as a foodie! Now, I have to find those peppers somewhere… P.S. Pinteresting the pizza shot – too gorgeous!

    1. Shari Post author

      Canning is my favorite! I’m not sure if this could be hot-water bathed canned though…I didn’t check the ph or anything.

  5. Pingback: Spicy Chicken Sausage Pizza with Chipotle Pepper and Pepita Seed Pesto & Giveaway! « My Fancy Pantry

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