Move over basil: cilantro is the new pesto.

[1 May 2007 | By | 20 Comments]

Wow, deviation is good. I make pesto, and love my basil pesto, but now it will have to share the spotlight with cilantro pesto.

It has a surprising kick, compliments of stacks of cilantro happily blended with garlic and olive oil, and would be perfect added to a quesadilla or pulled pork sandwich. What I want to know is if you make this lively bugger of a pesto: what did you/would you add it to? What entree or dish will get a boost of flavor, a bit of personality, and in some cases a downright pesky attitude based on the addition of this—not so subtle but always welcome—condiment? Or is it a sauce? Shall I put it in a soup? Or mix it in pasta? Today for lunch: I put it on nachos!
Cilantro. This pesto recipe came from Harriett’s Tomato:

Cilantro Pesto
2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
1 small peeled shallot
1/2 cup raw pine nuts
1 large bunch cilantro, washed
2 T sherry vinegar
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
KS&CP (kosher salt & coarse pepper)

Food process: garlic and shallot, then pine nuts. Blend, then add cilantro and vinegar. When all is mixed well, add in olive oil, salt, pepper. Makes 1 1/4 cups, lasts at least a week in the fridge and my favorite: freezes beautifully in ice cube trays.

More Cilantro:

  • Kalyn’s Kitchen with Cilantro-Lover’s Leftover Chicken Salad
  • Chicken & Cilantro Bites from Epicurious
  • Cilantro & Lime Butter from AllRecipes
  • TeamSugar provides Creamy Tomatillo Cilantro Dressing
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  • Deborah said (1 May 2007 at 1:27 pm):

    I have a cilantro sauce recipe that I love to put on hamburgers. Although my recipe is creamy, I think that this cilantro pesto would work equally well!

  • janelle said (1 May 2007 at 2:36 pm):

    Deb: outstanding! Thanks for the idea to put it on BURGERS how cool! Oh, send me the link so readers and I can check out your cilantro sauce too!

  • Brilynn said (1 May 2007 at 6:58 pm):

    It could be good in salsa or maybe as a variation on guacamole. Definitely on noodles with maybe some grilled chicken that’s been marinated with lime. Or on garlic bread!

  • Mishmash! said (1 May 2007 at 7:34 pm):

    Hey Janelle. ..I love ur ideas…..especially the ice cube ideas…..and pesto with Cilantro, hmm…I am gonna try this for sure :)


  • Kalyn said (1 May 2007 at 7:51 pm):

    Ohhh, love the sound of this. I think it would be wonderful on fish. I have a recipe for a garlic-cilantro sauce that I put on halibut, but this might be even better! Saving the recipe. And thanks for featuring my chicken salad too.

  • Lisa (Homesick Texan) said (2 May 2007 at 8:05 am):

    I’m a big fan of cilantro pesto as well…it’s also great with pecans instead of pine nuts.

  • Erika said (2 May 2007 at 9:53 am):

    Mmm. Love cilantro. I would use it like a chutney and dollop it on some Indian flavored chicken or rice.

  • Terry B said (2 May 2007 at 1:31 pm):

    I’m a big cilantro fan, and this sounds like a delicious use for it.

    With grilling season upon us, I would brush steaks with olive oil, sprinkle them with some chili powder and maybe some cayenne pepper, then grill them. Then I’d serve them topped with your pesto—a great way to liven up a summer standard.

    It would also be delicious on seared salmon fillets sprinkled with a little cayenne pepper.

  • Kirsten said (2 May 2007 at 11:30 pm):

    I ADORE cilantro…this looks wonderful for many, many recipes.

    I actually have a huge bunch of cilantro in the fridge…it may be soon when I try it! :)


  • janelle said (3 May 2007 at 10:23 am):

    Brilynn: oooooh, yummy.

    Mishmash: thank you!!!!

    Kalyn: your are welcome, I love finding other great recipes to try. I often put pesto on top of halibut, then grill. I didn’t even think about swapping it out for cilantro pesto! Great!

    Lisa: pecans, huh? Even sweeter…

    Erika: rice is a good vehicle for all kinds of sauces, eh? I don’t make it often enough, but I should!

    Terry: with grilled salmon sounds awesome.

    Kirsten: awesome! If you make too much, freeze some for later!

  • Kat said (3 May 2007 at 12:19 pm):

    I love cilantro and don’t understand people who do not! I make a pesto variation with parsley, arugala and even spinach…along with the cilantro (I live in upstate NY, and basil is quite expensive out of season).

  • Kristen said (4 May 2007 at 10:23 am):

    What a great change this is. Looks delicious!

  • sandi @ the whistlestop cafe said (5 May 2007 at 11:10 am):

    I’ve got my cilantro planted… I’ll be out snipping soon.

  • janelle said (11 May 2007 at 10:23 am):

    Kat: I confess I agree; I haven’t tried with arugula or spinach—sounds great! More greens yeah!!

    Kristen: thanks!

    Sandi: Planted herbs warms my heart! I have a huge sage bush, rosemary and Italian parsley going out of control and I love it!

  • David said (3 February 2008 at 5:38 pm):

    Try it on pizza instead of tomato sauce. sprinkle with chicken, yellow peppers and red onions (mushrooms can be added, black olives as well). Can turn this such heavenly pizza into appetizers.

  • janelle said (4 February 2008 at 6:18 pm):

    David: yum! Great idea, and especially at this moment when I am so, so hungry!

  • MariVero said (7 February 2008 at 11:27 pm):

    I’ve bought this in the store but, with cilantro being so plentiful and inexpensive, I’m going to make some of it myself. I plan to try a variation with some poblano pepper mixed in. I think it would be delicious spread on warm tortillas – corn or flour.

  • Charles said (6 March 2008 at 2:22 pm):

    We have a favorite place in San Antonio along the river not for from the Alamo called the Zuni Grill where we try to go twice a year to get our “Zuni Fix”. They serve a vegatable omelet filled with spinach, green peppers, red peppers, yellow peppers, onions and topped with lots of cilantro sauce with pine nuts. They also serve this with a soft tortilla, diced potatos with ketsup on the side, and a salad of watermellon, cantalope, mellon and excellent coffee served outdoors (it is nearly always warm there). In our words, “to die for”. I am trying to find their recipe. Hope this is it. We will be going there next month in April for Fiesta.

  • A 20-something that can cook said (16 March 2009 at 3:41 pm):

    Pine nuts are passé, walnuts are way cheaper and do the trick. Another variation is pistachios and mint follow the same steps and boom you got a winner, talk about fun in the sun, put this on your next dinner party menu.

  • Move over pizza… « Clean Project said (20 February 2012 at 9:46 am):

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