Thursday, January 20, 2011

Kenyan Cilantro Pesto

While visiting my brother in Kenya, we made a delicious meal using cilantro as a pesto base.
Cilantro pesto with Penne
Pesto is not hard if you are flexible. Ingredients can be changed depending on what you like. I generally use either cilantro (some know it as coriander) or basil as a base, nuts, garlic and olive oil. Traditional pesto will have cheese but I find this unnecessary with the dominant flavors of garlic and cilantro. Then it's up to you to add other flavors if you want.

1 bunch fresh cilantro, washed with the big stems taken out
1 small bag roasted cashews (I used a large handful)
2-3 garlic cloves, quartered
olive oil, at least a couple spoonfuls
salt and pepper to taste

1 fresh hot pepper (pili pili), sliced in rounds
Almonds, pecans, walnuts, pine nuts are all options instead of cashews
Other spices for specific flavor pairings

All the ingredients are thrown into a small blender/food processor (thanks to Cassandra!) and mixed until they turned into a fine pulp. If you don't have a food processor you can use a mortar and pestle to grind the ingredients into a paste (and also give yourself a pat on the back because you've just done it the hard way!).

I add more oil when it seems too dry and more nuts and spices until it tastes nice. Mostly, the pesto should be able to spread around the desired pasta or gnocchi easily enough without being chunky. And that's it! I might also be so inclined to add this pesto to bread or use as a a dip for a vegetable platter.


Nanci said...


Alan said...

Nice Swiss Army knife... I conveniently had it in my pocket at security when leaving South Africa and had to toss it to Cassandra's dad. Guess I'll see it again... sometime.

Alan in Kenya

Cassandra said...

I am glad that it got used at least once in my absence! Now I know what to do with it next...

Randi said...

Cassandra, I heard you make pizza sometimes and I think you should put this pesto on it!

Alan, it's weird, I just lost my flash drive too (not in the same way). But, it's like a freaky twin connection.