Basil does not have a lock on pesto. Pesto can be made with any number of herbs, nuts and green vegetables. In this case, cilantro and pepitas (pumpkin seeds) take the lead in this Cilantro Pesto Sauce.
While the flavor profile of this pesto is very different than basil pesto, it can be used in many of the same ways. Tossed with pasta, smeared on sandwich wrap instead of mayo, mixed with tomato sauce to make pizza sauce are just a few ideas. A dollop or two in a basic vinaigrette would really make your salad dressing pop. A spoonful stirred into a bowl of soup would be sublime.
If you cannot find pepitas in your market, substitute with slivered almonds. Be sure to toast the almonds to release the oils and nutty flavor.
Cilantro Pesto Sauce
- 6 bunches fresh cilantro, stems trimmed
- 3 cloves garlic
- ½ cup toasted pumpkin seeds
- 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- juice of one lime
- Place the cilantro, garlic and pumpkin seeds into a large food processor, and process until smooth.
- With the machine running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil, stopping and scraping down the sides of the processor bowl if needed.
- Add the salt, red pepper and lime juice and mix to incorporate.
- Place the pesto into a storage container and press plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the pesto before closing tightly.
Salsa verde = green sauce. The name is as simple as this recipe. The name may be simple but the complexity of the flavor is not.
Roast. Puree. Pour. Eat.
Roasting tomatillos, onion, garlic and jalapeno changes and deepens the flavors of these vegetables and aromatics. It softens the harsh edges of the jalapeno and brings out the sweetness of the garlic and onion.
Whether food processor, blender or mortar and pestle are used, the end result is the same. A smoothly textured salsa that works as a dipping sauce, layering sauce and cooking sauce.
Simple Salsa Verde
- 1 pound tomatillos, papery skins removed
- 5 garlic cloves
- 1 red onion, peeled and quartered
- 1 jalapeno pepper, stem removed
- 1 bunch cilantro
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- juice of 1 lime
- Heat oven to 400° F.
- Place tomatillos, garlic, onion and jalapeno onto a sheet pan or into a roasting pan.
- Roast the vegetables for 30 minutes, remove from oven and cool.
- Place the roasted vegetables, cilantro, salt and lime juice into a food processor.
- Puree until smooth.
- Place into an airtight container until ready to use.
Indian food is always on the top of my list of food I love to eat. The complex laying of spices and herbs, a myriad of vegetable based dishes, meaning I will be sure to eat my veggies that day. But it can be an intimidating food to cook, even for a trained chef.
That fear of cooking Indian food has vanished upon receiving a copy of Flavorful Shortcuts to Indian/Pakistani Cooking by Farhana Sahibzada. Chef Farhana, who has been a culinary teacher for over twenty year, recently did a cooking demo at Melissa’s Produce. Her easy going style and patient explanations made Indian cooking not as intimidating as it was.
If you are like me and love Indian food, but afraid to try to make it at home, I recommend Chef Farhana’s book. Find it in your local bookstore or buy it here on Amazon.
I admit, this Mint Chutney recipe is probably one of the easiest ones in the book, but it is what I was craving. I had roasted a chicken and potatoes with Indian spices, and knew this chutney would be the perfect cooling complement to the heavily spiced meat.
Author: Farhana Sahibzada
- ½ bunch fresh cilantro
- ½ bunch fresh mint
- 1 whole Serrano chile, stem removed
- 1 teaspoon pomegranate seeds
- 3 cloves of garlic
- ½ onion, chopped
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup lemon juice
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- Bland all the ingredients in a blender or food processor for 30 - 40 seconds until blended well.
- Mint chutney can be stored in the refrigerator for up to two weeks when stored in an airtight container with a firm lid.
I also recommend Crack the Code: Cook Any Indian Meal with Confidence by Nandita Godbole. This is another excellent book which helps demystify the complexity in Indian cooking. You can purchase and download this Ebook from Amazon.
I may receive compensation in either monetary or product form for my recipe development. I take pride in working with products that fit my brand and will be beneficial to my readers. All opinions are my own.
The wonderful thing about having an herb garden is the abundance of fresh herbs, naturally. But, sometimes that abundance is just too abundant.
One great way to preserve those herbs is to make herb butter. Herb butter is a good way to add flavor to vegetables, fish, chicken or even warm bread.
The farmer’s markets are full of bundles of fresh herbs right now if you don’t have your own garden.
This recipe is for a pound of butter, but you can use a handful of herbs and add it to a stick of butter.
Savory Herb Butter
- 1 cup fresh herbs, such as thyme, rosemary, oregano, basil
- 1 pound butter, softened
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Strip the leaves of your herbs from the stem, and place them into the bowl of a food processor.
- Chop the herbs roughly in the processor.
- Add the butter and process until smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides as needed.
- Place a piece of parchment paper on a flat surface.
- Scrape the butter out of the bowl, and put it in the bottom ⅓ of your parchment.
- Fold the short end of the parchment over the butter tightly, shaping it into a log.
- Pull back on the parchment to tighten and compress the butter.
- Roll the butter up completely in the parchment paper, and fold the ends to close it.
- Place the roll in the refrigerator to chill.
- To freeze the butter wrap the log in a couple layers of plastic wrap.
- When you want to use some unwrap the frozen butter, and cut off slices with a sharp knife.
Pickled peppers are eaten across the world. Preserving foods in vinegar is an ancient practice. What is new is the sharing of so many types of regional peppers across the globe. Jamaican peppers in New York, Thai peppers in Amsterdam and Japanese peppers in California are a few examples.
Pickled peppers have always been in my refrigerator, even in childhood. My mom would use the vinegar as a seasoning on cooked collard greens. It gave them a nice tart kick and is something I still do to this day.
I’ve begun growing my own peppers, and at one point was inundated by a lot of fresh peppers. I had always wanted to teach myself to can and preserve freshly grown produce like my grandma Ruby in Ohio did. What better way to start learning then to pickle my peppers?
Shishito peppers are a Japanese pepper that is popping up on more restaurant menus in America. Often served whole and roasted, the shishito pepper is a flavorful and fairly mild pepper, although sometimes a hot one will sneak into the batch!
Pickled Shishito Peppers
- 1 pound red or green Shishito peppers, washed and sliced crosswise into rings
- 4 cups white vinegar
- 2 cups water
- 8 garlic cloves
- ¼ cup black peppercorns
- ¼ cup kosher salt
- ¼ cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons Coriander seed
- Place the pepper rings into clean pint or quart size canning jars.
- In a large saucepan over high heat, bring the vinegar, water garlic, peppercorns, salt, sugar and coriander seeds to a boil.
- Lower the heat to medium high, and let the brine boil for 5 minutes.
- Pour the hot brine over the peppers, seal the jars and let cool to room temperature.
- Once the peppers have cooled place them in the refrigerator.
- Let the peppers sit for a week to let the flavors meld.