Cilantro Walnut Pesto

So remember that pesto I mentioned in last week’s Sunday food prep? Well, here you go!

cilantro and walnut pesto |

I actually didn’t plan on making pesto as part of my weekly food prep. Frankly I didn’t plan on making pesto at all, but I did have a huge bunch of cilantro in my fridge that I needed to use. I couldn’t even remember why I had cilantro in my fridge – I only buy it for specific recipes, and nothing I made that week called for it…so I improvised.

cilantro and walnut pesto |

I originally wanted to make something similar to my dairy free sun dried tomato basil pesto, subbing cilantro for the basil, but as it turned out I also didn’t have any pine nuts on hand. I did, however, have an excessive amount of chopped walnuts in my pantry, so I went with it. I kept the rest of the recipe pretty simple, using chopped garlic, lemon juice, a hint of cayenne pepper, and olive oil. I have to confess I didn’t even realize regular pesto contains cheese, so the few times I’ve made my own I don’t even bother. And even though I’m a complete cheese addict, I think I actually prefer pesto without the cheese. Is that sacrilege?

cilantro and walnut pesto |

Another thing I don’t really like about traditional pesto is that it can be pretty thin, so I used less olive oil to make my pesto a little thicker. This came out close to a paste, which I loved – especially on grilled chicken breasts. Be forewarned: if you’re not a fan of garlic don’t use as much as I did! I adore garlic – I think it’s safe to say I don’t have to worry about a vampire attacking me ever – and fortunately for me my husband likes it as well (albeit not as much as I do) and doesn’t mind when his wife goes to bed smelling like a stinking rose. All joking aside, this pesto turned out surprisingly well and I didn’t think it had an overwhelming cilantro flavor, so if you’re not a fan of cilantro you should try this anyway! It doesn’t have the same flavor as basil pesto but unless you’re planning on eating this straight out of the jar with  spoon, I couldn’t tell a huge difference. Eat up!

Cilantro Walnut Pesto

yields: approximately one cup


1 and 1/2 cups cilantro, chopped

3-4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped

juice of one half lemon

1/2 cup walnut pieces

1/2 to 1/4 cup olive oil (more or less depending on the consistency you prefer)

cayenne pepper to taste


Pretty simple. In a food processor or blender, toss in all ingredients except the oil and pulse until combined well. With the processor still running, slowly add the oil, scraping down the sides as necessary, until you have the consistency you want. Done!

cilantro and walnut pesto |

This pairs really well with chicken, but try it on crackers or eggplant rounds, toss it with some pasta or zoodles, or simply eat with sliced veggies. Experiment with it!

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