Cilantro Pesto de Esteban

Kick up the usual pesto with fresh, citrusy cilantro.

One of our favorite pesto recipes doesn't have a scrap of basil in it. Nope. It's a cilantro pesto- fresh, citrusy and different. Slather on salmon, corn on the cob, or toasted gluten-free bread. Spoon a dollop into spicy Mexican soups and chili.
It's been quiet on the GFG blog but not-quite-so-quiet here in our little casita by the windswept mesa. You see, a certain gluten-free goddess has been wrestling bare handed with some nagging health issues that living gluten-free hasn't squashed so far (what's up with that?). I'm contemplating a post about it because I suspect what I'm going through isn't exactly unheard of. In fact, I'm willing to bet many gluten-free readers will be able to relate. 

And Babycakes, you know I'm always one to share. But I'm not quite ready to write about it. I'm still in the thick of it- but finding some help, at last. And the past two days have been better. And so, I thought I'd grab my camera and share a new pesto Esteban just whipped up after a quick trip to Wild Oats in Santa Fe today.

Cilantro Pesto de Esteban

Cilantro, it turns out, is not only a cool accompaniment to hot and spicy dishes and coconut milk sauces, it may be good for you. Cilantro is full of antioxidants and (perhaps?) helps the body to detoxify. Folklore has it aiding the liver in detoxification efforts. What's not to love about that?


1 cup fresh cilantro leaves- we bought 1 large bunch of cilantro
1 large garlic clove
1/4 cup toasted almonds
1 roasted red pepper
2 ounces Asiago cheese, grated - for vegan and GF/CF, try nutritional yeast
3-4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, as needed


Place the cilantro, garlic, almonds, red pepper and Asiago in a food processor bowl; cover and pulse until finely chopped. Begin adding a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and pulse to combine. Add enough olive oil to make a paste. 

Taste test for seasoning or texture adjustments.

Karina's Notes:

  • Serve a spoonful of cilantro pesto as a flavorful spike to soups and chili, stir-fries and hummus.
  • Slather it on your favorite rice pasta.
  • Use it as an appetizer spread with cream cheese and rice crackers.
  • Schmear it on a brown rice pizza shell and top it with spicy vegetables and shredded jalapeno pepper cheese.
  • Spoon it on a split baked potato and crumble goat cheese on top.
  • Use a spoonful to make a salad dressing: just add olive oil, lemon juice, sea salt and fresh ground black pepper; whisk till combined.
  • And don't forget quesadillas - this pesto would be fab on a grilled corn tortilla with sliced fresh tomatoes and shredded cheddar or goat cheese.

Okay, now I'm getting hungry. When's lunch?



ChupieandJ'smama said...

The pesto looks delish! Thanks for sharing. I hope you are feeling better soon.

Kalyn said...

What's up with that indeed? Sorry to hear you're not feeling great. Hope it will improve!

kbabe1968 said...

:( sorry to hear not feeling well. But MMMM...that looks good! Southwestern. So jealous, I love the southwest...miss it terribly... :)

Julie said...

Pesto looks great. Any preferred almond substitute for those who can't eat them? Pine nuts? Or is that too traditional?

KAnn said...

I simply love cilantro...this looks fabulous!

I hope you are feeling better very soon!

Ellen said...

Karina, I'm so sorry to hear you've not been feeling well. I will add you to my healing prayers - and hope that you find relief very soon. Tell hubby that the cilantro pesto looks heavenly. One can never have too much cilantro, in my humble opinion!

Slacker Mom (aka Mrs. GF) said...

That looks so I can't wait for my herb garden and my cilantro...yum.

By the way, I am so jealous of your intros...who can beat intros like "It is wild and windy here by the mesa." or "A small brown bunny hopped by the casita early this morning. Fruit trees by the Chama River are blooming, laced with soft pinks and cream."

This Northeastern girl gets so jealous of that!! All I have is, "Well, it's rainy and cold again." or "it's decided to snow AGAIN." No casitas and wind on the mesas here.

Also, I am so bummed to hear that you still have some issues that need resolving. I hope you are able to find the answers and feel great again.

And, I have missed your posts... :)

~M said...

I hope your doctor is able to help you heal yourself soon. We are all pulling for you!

Champ said...

Mmm, I love the idea of using this cilantro pesto in lieu of pizza sauce! I can't wait to try that out! (I'm thinking I'll season a few zucchinis, carrots, and bell peppers with something spicy and roast them in olive oil, first--oh, geez, now I'm hungry, too.)

I hope you can manage the health issues. Like you, going GF helped with a lot of things, but I still have other diseases to battle. Best of luck to you!

Anonymous said...

Hmm, I guess people think as long as you eat gf everything's hunky-dory, but it ain't that simple is it? Weird things happen to us coeliacs sometimes right?

Natalie said...

Ode to my favorite herb! I am looking forward to trying this. I am sorry to hear you are not feeling well. Sounds like your hubby is taking care of you =)

Anonymous said...


I tried your trick for breadcrumbs! And, yay! They were excellent. Thanks. And the pesto looks great. I grew up in Alb. NM and reading about Santa Fe made me miss home...

Kathy said...

So sorry to hear you're not feeling your best. Hope you get well soon!


Faye said...

Cilantro. just the sound of it makes my mouth water...I will definitely make this for your health, each day, my preschoolers sing a "wish well" song...tomorrow, I will place your name in the red heart and we will wish you well...I hope it helps! Feel better...

catalyst0527 said...

I hope you get well soon. :)

jcc said...

I'm sorry to hear you haven't been feeling your best, Karina. Hope things turn a corner soon!

Thinking of you~

Rachel Jagareski, Old Saratoga Books said...

Thinking of you, Karina, and hope you will be feeling well soon.

Cilantro pesto sounds great. And for anyone who hasn't grown in in their garden, try it, it's as easy as pie. The herb reseeds itself and it doesn't have any bug pests here in the Northeast that I can see.

Feel better soon!


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