Sunday, September 4, 2011
As we've said many times before, pesto does not have to be made with basil. Instead you can use parsley, arugula, sun-dried tomatoes, asparagus, pistachio, sage, broccoli, red pepper, garlic scapes or cilantro.
We gave Mark Bittman's recipe for Light Cilantro Pesto that can be used as a dressing on vegetables or as an underlayment for any entree that needs just spark of pep. For example, we've smeared it on the plate under the stuffed roasted peppers we serve as an appetizer.
Saveur magazine's celebration of pesto includes a cilantro pesto made heartier by the inclusion of roasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds). This pesto was the biggest hit when we laid out several pesto spreads as appetizers before a recent dinner party. It's salty. It's hearty. It's aggressively tasty. Saveur recommends it with roasted squash or grilled fish.
We made a lot of this cilantro pesto, so we've used it as a sauce on pasta (delicious!), as a dressing on blanched green beans and as a topping for fresh sliced tomatoes. This is a very versatile pesto indeed!
Pepita and Cilantro Pesto (from Saveur magazine)
2 cups packed cilantro
1/2—2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup toasted pepitas
1/3 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Pulse cilantro, oil, pepitas, parmesan, lime juice and garlic in a food processor until finely chopped; season with salt and pepper.