The Ardent Epicure

An Ode to the Pleasures of Food

3:12 AM

What's on the Side? - Cilantro Pesto

Posted by Truffle Shuffle

Cilantro Pesto

I wanted to make something special for you guys today, and I realized I had never mad pesto before.  So after a bit of thought, I decided to use one of my all-time favorite fresh ingredients, and make you a cilantro pesto!
Traditional pesto is made with basil, pine nuts, and Pecorino Romano cheese.  I used cilantro and walnuts, but I also used Pecorino Romano.  However, if you want to use a more Spanish-type cheese to accent the cilantro, I would suggest the use of Manchego.

1 bunch of fresh cilantro (leaves and stems)
5 cloves of garlic (less if they are large)
1/4 cup of cheese
1/2 tsp of cayenne pepper (adjust to your liking; I used a bit more)
Juice of about two larger limes, or three or four smaller ones
1/2 cup of walnuts
About 1/2 cup of oil (but have more available)
Sea salt and freshly-ground pepper (to taste)

Place the walnuts in the food processor, and grind them for about ten or fifteen seconds, until they are well-chopped (sorry, I forgot to take a picture of this step!)
Wash your cilantro thoroughly, dry it, then roughly chop it (I cut it into thirds).
Then add the cilantro into the food processor with the nuts.

Next, roughly chop the garlic and grate the cheese if it is not already grated.  Throw both of these into the food processor as well. Squeeze the limes on top of the mixture, and add the spices (don't over-salt; you can always add more later).

Turn the food processor on, making sure the ingredients do not go flying out.  Through the chute, pour in the olive oil a little bit at a time, until you have reached the desired consistency, stopping once or twice to scrape down the sides and mix everything in with a spoon, to be sure everything is fully incorporated.
Taste the pesto, and add more acid or salt as necessary. Please note that, as usual, I did not do any measurements myself when making this pesto.  So, use your best judgment when creating your own.  If you don't like something, or you like more of something, tailor it to your needs.  Remember, the food is there to serve you!  Make it how you like it, and if something is enough (or not enough), don't be afraid to put a little less, or a little more.
And voilà, cilantro pesto is born!

Try this pesto on pizzas, on chicken, with bread, or...

Whole Wheat Spaghetti with Cilantro Pesto

And in case you were wondering, it was delicious!

If the taste of a lot of raw garlic is a bit much for you, cut back on the garlic to suit your preference.  You may also use marinated garlic, but I find that fresh has a nice bite for this particular dish.
You may use pine nuts instead of walnuts or, if you prefer, almonds would work as well.
Use a high-quality extra virgin olive oil, since the oil will have a strong flavor in this dish.
Parmesan cheese may be substituted for the other cheeses mentioned in this post.
Fresh pesto does not store particularly well, so if you plan on refrigerating it, cover it in a thin layer of oil and store it in an air-tight container.

Look for our recipes for gnocchi, traditional pesto, and artichoke pesto coming up in a few days!

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