Recipe: Cilantro Walnut Pesto

Food & Beverage

In the Kitchen

By Jessica Wilson
One of my most favorite scents in the whole world is cilantro. I know there are quite a few of you folk out there that have some sort of genetic makeup that causes cilantro to taste like soap, and for that I am quite sorry, as it is truly a delight in so many ways. I am also a lover of pesto and eating food straight from the garden. A few weeks ago, we had a bumper crop of cilantro and a whole lotta leftover penne hanging out in the fridge. I remembered making a cilantro pesto years ago, and thought, “Why not try it again?” After a perusal of the cheese drawer I discovered we only had Swiss and aged gouda. Choosing the gouda, an adventure began.
This is a young and spicy pesto that tastes excellent hot or cold. It is delightful on pasta, smeared on a hunk of bread, or as a spread on a sandwich – truly versatile. I recommend following my recipe as a base, as you may not want yours as garlic-spicy as mine, or you may choose to not dance with as much of the gouda. Either way, have a go of it and enjoy!

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1 cup packed cilantro, chopped
½ cup-1 cup walnuts
1-2 oz aged gouda
not young; you need a hard cheese for pesto
3 tablespoons olive oil
Juice from one lemon
2 garlic cloves
Food processor
a blender would work as well; just chop your ingredients up first
Rubber spatula/scraper
Small glass container with lid


Cilantro Walnut Pesto Step1
Step 1: Assemble your ingredients beforehand to make it easier to process. Slice your lemon and peel your garlic too.
Cilantro Walnut Pesto Step2
Step 2: Rinse your cilantro and chop coarsely. If the stems are not too woody, go for it and toss those into the mix as well. Cilantro that has begun to flower is totally fine to use as well; the blossoms themselves are pretty tasty.
Cilantro Walnut Pesto Step3
Step 3: Add the whole shebang to the bowl of your food processor, lock the lid on, and process away, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula every few rounds or so.
Cilantro Walnut Pesto Step4
Step 4 (optional): Eyeball your pesto. It will resemble the texture of wasabi and be almost as bright. Add a little more cilantro, oil, and/or lemon juice to taste. If you would prefer it to be thinner, add a little more olive oil (by the tablespoon). You may salt it if you wish, but the garlic and cheese will flavor it up big time. Yields about one cup.
Cilantro Walnut Pesto Step5
Step 5: Scoop out into a glass container and store in fridge until ready to use. Or if you just can’t wait, add a dollop to a bowl of pasta and enjoy!
About the Author:
Author Jessicawilson
Jessica Wilson is most happily known as ‘jek in the box’ and spends most of her time crafting it up and taking pictures. She can often be found standing on benches over on Flickr and creating all sorts of kiddie crafts on her blog scrumdilly-do! She lives a life of scrumdillydilly and loves to share.

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