Cilantro Pesto Pasta with Roasted Pumpkin & Honey


by Sil Pancho



Today is the LAST day of AK Pumpkin Week. Did you find brand new favorite pumpkin recipes? Do you miss it already like I do? The good news is we’re going out with a bang because this pumpkin recipe is the perfect balance of sweet and savory and makes the absolute perfect fall dinner.

Hi, you beautiful cilantro pesto pasta with roasted pumpkin and honey! That’s right, I took my famous cilantro pistachio pesto and added a unique fall twist to bring you a vegetarian pasta dish that’s equal parts fresh and cozy.

The pesto itself has a boost of veggies from spinach and is made with both pistachios and roasted pumpkin seeds (aka pepitas) because two is always better than one. That honey roasted pumpkin has incredible flavor from warming spices and adds a lovely sweetness to every bite. But enough chatter, it’s time to get this gorgeous fall pasta dish on your dinner table. It makes the perfect main dish or side with your go-to proteins. Serve it up and enjoy!

Don’t forget to enter our Pumpkin Week giveaway! Details can be found on this page and at the bottom of the post. I can’t wait to see your creations!

cilantro pesto pasta with roasted pumpkin on a plate

Let’s talk pesto

I originally made a homemade cilantro pistachio pesto when I was dreaming up a sauce for this pasta recipe. It was too good for words and I ended up tweaking it for more amazing pasta dishes and even adding it to this homemade hummus recipe!

Today we’re adding a lovely fall twist with some roasted pumpkin seeds (it is Pumpkin Week after all!) and you’re going to LOVE how the pesto flavors pair with the honey roasted pumpkin.

cilantro pesto pasta with pepitas in a food processor

Ingredients in this cilantro pesto pasta with roasted pumpkin

Get ready for an absolute flavor explosion in this pumpkin pesto pasta recipe. It’s slightly sweet with a kick of heat and warming spices that will have you going back for seconds. Plus, it’s completely vegetarian and dairy free, and it’s super easy to keep gluten free! Here’s what you’ll need to make it:

  • Pumpkin: you’ll need about 3-4 cups of cubed pumpkin for roasting, so be sure to check out our simple tutorial for how to cube one here!
  • Honey: we’re roasting the pumpkin with a little honey for wonderful natural sweetness. I also love to garnish the pasta dish with a little more honey to pull all of the flavors together. YUM.
  • Spices: you’ll need chili powder, garlic powder, a little cayenne pepper and some salt and pepper to roast the pumpkin as well. Don’t forget to garnish the whole dish with red chili flakes! It adds the perfect touch of heat paired with sweet honey.
  • For the pesto: this incredible cilantro pesto has fresh cilantro and spinach (hello, boost of veggies), roasted pistachios, roasted pumpkin seeds (aka pepitas), garlic, a little olive oil, fresh lime juice, water to thin and plenty of salt and pepper.
  • Pasta: I love using cavatappi pasta in this recipe but feel free to use any noodle you’d like, including gluten free pasta!
  • To garnish: as I mentioned you’ll want to top the dish with a little extra honey and red chili flakes, plus more roasted pepitas and freshly ground salt and pepper.

cilantro pesto pasta blended in a food processor

Customize your pumpkin pesto pasta

If you want to use up other ingredients in your fridge or pantry here’s what I can recommend:

  • Choose the nuts & seeds: feel free to use all pistachios or all pepitas in the pesto itself. Using pepitas will keep the recipe nut free.
  • Swap the pumpkin: feel free to use cubed butternut squash or sweet potato if that’s what you have on hand. Check out our easy tutorial for peeling & cubing a butternut squash here!
  • Cheese it up: I’m all about adding a delicious cheesy element. Try 1/4 cup of goat cheese for tang or freshly grated parmesan for a savory, salty flavor.
  • Add a boost of veggies: feel free to mix in extra spinach, kale, or even peas for another boost of veggies.

cubed pumpkin on a baking sheet to roast

Looking for a protein boost?

Look no further! This cilantro pesto pasta would be delicious with:

roasted pumpkin on a baking sheet for pumpkin pesto pasta

How to make this wonderful cilantro pesto pasta

  1. Prep your pumpkin. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Then cube your pumpkin using this method and toss the cubes with olive oil, honey and those cozy spices. Once the cubes are coated, roast them up!
  2. Make the pesto. While the pumpkin is roasting, add all of the cilantro pesto ingredients to a food processor and process until smooth.
  3. Cook the pasta. You can also cook your fav pasta while the pumpkin is roasting. Drain it and add it to a large bowl.
  4. Assemble & devour. Stir the pesto into the bowl of noodles, then add in the roasted pumpkin cubes. Drizzle with honey and garnish with more roasted pepitas and red chili flakes. Don’t forget to taste and add salt and pepper as necessary, then devour! Feel free to serve as a main dish or a side.

Tips for storing & reheating

Store any leftover pumpkin pesto pasta in airtight containers in the refrigerator for up to 3-5 days. To reheat simply do so in a microwave safe dish with a splash of water. You can also reheat on the stovetop with a splash of water.

vegetarian cilantro pesto pasta on plates with roasted pumpkin

More pumpkin recipes you’ll love

Get all of our delicious pumpkin recipes here!

pumpkin pesto pasta on a plate

Pumpkin week giveaway deets

This year we’ll be selecting 2 lucky winners in our Pumpkin Week giveaway to each get a $150 Target gift card! To enter:

  1. Post a photo of any Ambitious Kitchen pumpkin recipe you make in your Instagram feed, in IG stories, or in the Ambitious Kitchen Community Facebook Group with the hashtag #AKPumpkinWeek.
  2. The more you post & share your recipe photos, the greater chance you have to win! **Please note, your profile must be public so that we can see your pumpkin creations.
  3. Winners will be announced on Wednesday, 10/13 and notified via DM on Instagram or in the Facebook group. Must be 18 or older, USA only.

I hope you love this cilantro pesto pasta with roasted pumpkin & honey! If you make it be sure to leave a comment and a rating so I know how you liked it. Enjoy, xo!

Cilantro Pesto Pasta with Roasted Pumpkin & Honey

Incredible cilantro pesto pasta with roasted pumpkin, honey and a sprinkle of red chili flakes. This vegetarian pumpkin pesto pasta recipe is a delicious, fall take on regular pesto pasta with the addition of sweet & spicy roasted pumpkin, pepitas and plenty of cozy spices. Enjoy on its own or with your favorite proteins for the perfect main dish or side!

  • For the honey roasted pumpkin:
  • 3-4
    cubed pumpkin
  • 1
    olive oil
  • 1
  • ½
    chili powder
  • 1/4
    garlic powder
  • ¼
    cayenne pepper
  • Freshly ground salt and pepper
  • For the pesto:
  • 1
    heaping handful cilantro (about 1 small bunch cilantro)
  • 2
  • 1/2
    roasted pistachios (unsalted is best)
  • 2
    roasted pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
  • 1
    small garlic clove
  • 2-3
    olive oil
  • 2
    water to thin the pesto
  • 1
    fresh lime juice (from ½ lime)
  • 1/4
    salt, plus more to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • For the pasta:
  • 10
    cavatappi pasta (or pasta of choice)
  • To garnish:
  • 1-2
  • Roasted pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
  • ½
    red chili flakes (add ½ teaspoon more if you like it a little more spicy!)
  • Freshly ground salt and pepper
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

  2. Place pumpkin cubes on the prepared pan. If you don’t know how to cube a pumpkin, refer to this tutorial. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with honey, chilli powder, garlic powder, cayenne pepper and salt and pepper. Use tongs or clean hands to toss the pumpkin with the spices and honey so that it’s evenly coated. Roast for 30-35 minutes or until pumpkin cubes are fork tender, flipping halfway through to ensure even cooking.

  3. While the pumpkin is roasting, you can make the pesto: add the spinach, cilantro, pistachios, pepitas, garlic, olive oil, water, lime juice, salt and pepper to a food processor and process until smooth, scraping down the sides and processing again, as necessary.

  4. Next cook your pasta according to the directions on the package. When done, drain and add to a large bowl and stir in the pesto so that all the noodles are coated. Finally add in the roasted pumpkin. Drizzle with honey and garnish with roasted pepitas and red chili flakes. Taste and add salt and pepper as necessary. Give it a small toss again and then enjoy. This recipe is fabulous with grilled chicken or bacon tossed in, or with salmon. Serves 4 as a main or 6 as a side. Enjoy!

Feel free to use butternut squash cubes or sweet potatoes instead of pumpkin.

If you want a little tang, feel free to add ¼ cup of goat cheese crumbles to the pasta. Fresh grated parmesan on top is also fabulous.

Keep the recipe nut free but using all roasted pepitas, instead of pistachios, in the pesto itself.


Servings: 4 servings

Serving size: 1 serving (based on 4)

Calories: 491kcal

Fat: 18.9g

Saturated fat: 2.6g

Carbohydrates: 68.7g

Fiber: 5.1g

Sugar: 10g

Protein: 14.1g

Recipe by: Monique Volz // Ambitious Kitchen | Photography by: Eat Love Eats

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