Thursday, September 27, 2007

Cilantro Pesto With Cashews

This beautiful emerald green cilantro pesto is fabulous stirred into hot/cold pasta or soups, spread on sandwiches and wraps, as a dip for warm bread, or diluted with more olive oil and some lemon juice to make a delicious salad dressing. It makes a great appetizer too: Swirl a spoonful or two into Hummus or place a spoonful in a small saucer of extra virgin olive oil to serve with any kind of good crusty bread. This beautiful pesto, which is very similar to the Indian chutneys, has a little kick to it because of the red or Jalapeño chili!

This pesto can be made without the cheese or nuts for vegans/people with allergies.

Cilantro, Parmesan cheese, Olive Oil, Salt, Garlic,
Toasted Pumpkin seeds and Dry Red Chili


2 large bunches of Cilantro
5 cloves fresh Garlic
1/3 cup extra virgin Olive Oil (plus a little more for covering the top)
1/2 tsp Salt
1/3 cup grated Parmesan Cheese, (Optional)
1/4 cup Cashews or other nuts or seeds (Optional)
1 dry red chili or 1 green Jalapeño chili
1 tsp dry roasted Whole Cumin Seeds, ground


Roast the nuts/seeds you are using in a dry skillet without any oil to a pale gold. Remove from heat. Break the red chili if using, into two pieces and shake out and discard the seeds and stir into the warm nuts/seeds. Place the whole thing on a heat-resistant plate or bowl and set aside to cool.

Sort the cilantro to remove weeds and yellow or spoiled leaves. Wash thoroughly in several changes of fresh water. Drain well and trim off the stems about an inch below the leaves.

Peel garlic and trim the stem end. Cut Jalapeño if using, into two (remove the seeds and membranes for a milder pesto).

Place cilantro, cumin, garlic, nuts and the salt and process in a food processor container fitted with the metal blade or a blender until finely minced. You may have to scrape the sides to push all the ingredients into the blades a few times. Pour the olive oil in a thin stream through the chute while the machine is running and process to a smooth puree. Add Parmesan cheese and pulse until mixed thoroughly. Remove to a clean, dry glass jar; add a thin layer of olive oil to cover the top and keep refrigerated until needed.

Variations: Almonds, pistachios, or pumpkin seeds (pepitas) could be substituted for the cashews. One can also make the pesto with one bunch each of cilantro and Italian parsley (flat leaf type).

Makes about 8 to 10 ounces

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