Thursday, April 14, 2011

Cilantro Pesto

I have solved another semantic dilemma recently. When I think pesto, I think basil, pine nuts, and parmesan cheese all blended together to make that delicious sauce we all know and love. The semantic dilemma came in when I asked myself, if I use cilantro to make a pesto, is it still pesto? Technically, yes. The word pesto originates from the Genoese word pesta which means to crush or grind (think mortar and PESTle). This leaves a lot of room for calling substances pestos, including my cilantro pesto. That being said, I food processed mine which involved a lot of fast, whizzing, chopping and not so much with the crushing.

Semantics aside, I love pesto. I love that cilantro is delicious to me and only fifty cents a bunch whereas that much basil would probably cost me my rent money. Not to mention the truly expensive factor in the equation, the pine nuts. I used pecans in this instead because A)I save a little money, B)I had them on hand, and C)they are pretty sweet so they contrast well with the bitter cilantro. Since making this delicious concoction I have been using it for everything. I add it to my eggs, I use it as a pizza sauce or pasta sauce, I've been adding it to black beans, and practically anything with Mexican flair could use some cilantro pesto.

It's really as simple as crowding all of the ingredients into a food processor, pulsing a few times, then walking away. I didn't use a recipe and this recipe I'll give now is incredibly flexible and forgiving. I chose not to add cheese but feel free to use some grated parmesan. I used pecans but I'm sure walnuts would be good too. 

1 bunch (or about 1/2 cup) fresh cilantro leaves
2 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 cup pecans
2-3 Tbsp olive oil
lemon juice to taste
salt and pepper to taste

1. Put all of the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and blend up until all ground up. Add more olive oil if necessary to reach a desired consistency. 

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