This week, while shopping at Esh's (my favorite local discount grocery store) - I found this HUGE bag of fresh cilantro.
Being that it is nearly winter in Colorado, and the landscape is starting to brown, I am beginning to feel desperately panicky for green. Not having fresh herbs in my garden for 5 months out of the year is a bummer. I decided to grab the huge bag (for only $2.49... I figured it was a steal and I'd find a use for it). It was probably equivalent to 8 -10 regular bunches!
Making pesto is a great way to preserve the bright taste of fresh herbs all winter. My momma used to make her basil pesto in large batches and freeze it. The fun of pesto is that it is so diverse - you can use practically ANY fresh herb you like.
Here's what I had on hand... for my cilantro pesto:
Simple Cilantro Pesto Recipe:
- 4 to 5 cups fresh cilantro (packed)
- 1/2 cup raw walnuts
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 stick of butter, softened (for creaminess)
- 1-2 fresh garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 1/2 tsp. sea salt
- splash of lemon juice or vinegar (for brightness) *forgot this until the end, so it wasn't in the picture*
My Momma didn't put Parmesan cheese in her pesto (perhaps because she froze hers ?) so I never put cheese in mine. Feel free to add this, if you like. I find that freshly grated Parmesan is best to add just before serving over a dish.
Combine ingredients in a food processor and blend well.
Oh I almost forgot... I also added some chili flakes to mine at the last-minute.
Time for a taste. (Don't forget this part!)
Because the texture and smoothness of fresh pesto is SO luscious, I am keeping a jar of it in the fridge, and another batch in the freezer. In order to keep pesto bright green in the fridge though, you need a layer of olive oil on top. If it has air getting to it, it will turn dark.
Frozen pesto will have to be picked out with a fork (a frozen chunk at a time) when you are ready to use it. It melts beautifully when it hits a bowl of hot pasta, or when adding flavor to some soup. I will often add a chunk of frozen pesto to some sautéed veggies - or anything I'm cooking that might benefit from a little flavor boost!
Here is my jar, ready for the fridge - and my Pyrex container ready for the freezer:
Try some other fresh herb combinations:
Classic: Basil & pine nut, garlic, EVOO...
(*THRIFTY TIP: Since pine nuts are SO expensive - I usually replace with blanched slivered almonds. - I find that the flavor is very similar.... though pine nuts ARE heavenly.)
Parsley & Walnut...
Rosemary or Sage & lemon zest, garlic...