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!

Baby Eggplant Stuffed With Goat Cheese and Pesto

I’m writing this post on Thursday morning in an attempt to catch up on blog posts, get back into writing, and find my groove after a hectic two weeks of moving. As I write this, it’s pouring outside – it’s been raining for about 18 hours straight and doesn’t appear to be stopping anytime soon. We still haven’t turned our heat on, but the good news is I’m curled up in front of a roaring fire that my husband was nice enough to get going for us once we woke up and came downstairs. Armed with a cup of coffee and my ancient laptop, I’m ready to go!

How about we start off with these baby eggplant stuffed with goat cheese and pesto? Tres adorable, no?

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Ok, so they maybe don’t look as pretty as they did before I baked them in the oven, but trust me – these babies? Might be my new favorite party appetizer! If you get really small eggplant you can even serve them as finger food! Although most of ours were a little too big for that, so I just chopped off the little top and then cut mine with a knife and fork. Still, it’s a different twist on the usual hors d’oeurves, am I right?

baby eggplant

This is what they looked like when I started out – aren’t they just too much? I was talking to a woman at the farmer’s market about them and she told me she loves to roast them and serve them on a sandwich with some basil, tomato and goat cheese. Because Kevin and I don’t eat bread a sandwich was out, but I loved the idea of goat cheese and after making stuffed chicken thighs a few nights prior, I figured why not stuff the baby eggplant as well?

I wanted to do something more than just goat cheese so I rummaged through my refrigerator to see what I had on hand. And to what to my wandering eyes did appear, but some sundried tomato basil pesto! Perfect! I mixed about two tablespoons of my pesto into a 4 oz block of goat cheese and stuffed it into the baby eggplant before slathering them up with olive oil and sticking them in the oven to roast for about 30 minutes.

baby eggplant stuffed with goat cheese and pesto

Once they came out of them oven they were creamy, dreamy, roasted cheesy balls of goodness. Kevin couldn’t resist eating one directly off of the baking pan and promptly burned both his fingers and his mouth, but announced it completely worth it. After following suit (and yes, I burned my fingers and my mouth as well), I had to agree!

And not only are they delicious but have I mentioned that they are absolutely adorable?

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prep time: 5 minutes (if you have pesto on hand)

cook time: 30-40 minutes


baby eggplant (I used approximately one quart box worth)

4 oz plain goat cheese

2 tbsp sun dried tomato basil pesto

olive oil


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut a slit in each eggplant, deep enough to fill with goat cheese pesto filling but careful not to slice through the entire eggplant. Toss the eggplant with olive oil. In a bowl, combine goat cheese and pesto. Fill the eggplant with the filling and lay on a baking sheet. Roast in oven 30-40 minutes, until eggplant can be pierced easily with a knife. Serve immediately.

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Tomato Basil Pesto Eggplant Roll-Ups

So here I am going on and on about how much I love fall and I’m ready for chunky sweaters and boots and scarves and cooler weather…and I wake up this morning and it’s already hot and humid.

At 0600.

tomato basil eggplant roll-ups

Funny how that works, huh? But it got me to thinking. As hot and humid as it was today (high of 95 – ugh), I realized that I’m not ready to let go of summer just yet. Yes, I love fall. I love the colors. I love the weather. I love huddling around a crackling fire at my parents house with a nice toasty marshmallow hanging off the end of a stick that will ultimately end up being fried to a crisp because I’m horrible at toasting marshmallows. But I also love summer – long days, sitting on the balcony with a glass of wine watching a gorgeous sunset with The Husband, going for runs in shorts and a tank top (as opposed to the multiple layers I will be wearing come January!).

And I love adorable little appetizers like these tomato basil pesto eggplant roll-ups!

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Aren’t they adorable? And they look so summery with the nice green spinach and the pop of red from a roasted red pepper strip on top. And eggplant! I love eggplant. Although to be honest, I’m not sure if eggplant is a summer vegetable or a winter vegetable. Typically when I think of eggplant I think of winter – usually in the form of eggplant parmesan or a big bowl of ratatouille with crusty bread. But there are days when eggplant makes me think of summer – usually in the form of chilled eggplant dip with cruidites or something like these roll-ups.

(By the way, I just googled “when is eggplant in season” and found out it’s actually a summer and early fall vegetable. So basically, this is the perfect time for an eggplant recipe! Win!)

By the way, did you know that the eggplant is botanically classified a berry? And it’s referred to as a fruit? Wikipedia told me so.

tomato basil pesto eggplant roll-ups prep

Anyway. Ever since we roasted some eggplant rounds with the sundried tomato basil pesto I made I’ve been craving the flavor combination. So this past weekend I found myself with some free time and an eggplant and, well, this is what happened!

The best thing is that these little appetizers (I would definitely make them as an appetizer or a side dish – because unless you eat an entire eggplant worth, I don’t think they’ll serve as a meal. At least not for The Husband and me.) can be eaten hot or cold! The Husband waited only long enough for me to take the pictures before he swooped in and we gobbled them up. But I had a couple extra slices of eggplant left over and filled them up and took them in my lunch the next day and they tasted just as good cold!

Make them!

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Tomato Basil Pesto Eggplant Roll-Ups

makes approximately 8-10 roll-ups (depending on the size of your eggplant and how thin you cut your slices)

prep time: 10 minutes

cook time: 10-15 minutes


1 medium to large eggplant

1 cup sundried tomato basil pesto

baby spinach leaves

roasted red pepper strips

olive oil


Slice your eggplant into thin slices – the thinner the better. Next, brush the slices with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. (Tip: use more olive oil than you think you’ll need – you’ll need it to grill the slices). Next, heat a grill pan over medium high heat. Working in batches, grill your eggplant slices evenly on both side and set aside. Once cooked, spread some pesto on each slice and top with some spinach leaves. Roll the eggplant and garnish with red pepper. (Alternatively you can add some red pepper slices inside the roll-ups). Serve hot or cold.

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