This Pistachio Cilantro Pesto Recipe is fresh and bright-flavored and a little nutty, and a delicious change from a traditional pesto.
Oh, pesto. It’s one of those things that I truly love, but forget about until it’s all I can think about. (The cravings are real once basil is in season.) If I played it right, I’d spend the final days of summer every year putting the last of the fresh basil to good use and freezing it so I could enjoy it throughout the rest of the year. And have you ever tried cilantro pesto? It’s bright and fresh with a pungency that differentiates it from classic basil pesto. It’s delicious.
The funny thing is, I used to hate cilantro. Actually, hate doesn’t fully describe it; I used to despise cilantro (truly). For me, it tasted like soap (yup, I was one of those people). I honestly have no idea what happened, but over the years I stopped hating it so much. Little by little I started actually liking it, and then craving it, and then adding it to just about anything from homemade egg drop soup, to pulled BBQ chicken, to Thai curry. So, maybe the whole cilantro aversion isn’t genetic? Maybe if cilantro isn’t something you grew up with, it’s just an acquired taste? Whatever the explanation, I’m just glad I got over my aversion.
Now, if you’re familiar with pesto, before you make it, know that this Pistachio Cilantro Pesto is something else entirely. Cilantro replaces basil, pistachios oust pine nuts, and there’s no cheese to be found. (But extra-virgin olive oil and garlic are necessary in both this and the classic version.) As a result, I find this pesto to be a little less rich, but not lacking in flavor.
What Can You Do With Cilantro?
If you grow cilantro, at some point you might find yourself with more of it than you can use immediately! Or maybe it looked too good to pass up at your local farmers market. Or perhaps it was on sale at the grocery store and you bought a bunch too many. Whatever the reason, there are so many things you can do with cilantro, and here are just a few ideas:
- Sprinkle it on tacos, enchiladas, tostadas, etc.
- Add a handful to chili
- Use it to garnish your favorite guacamole
- Top an Indian or Thai curry, or a Chinese stir-fry with a few leaves
- Make it into pesto
How to Freeze Fresh Pesto
I freeze fresh pesto in one of two ways:
- In 1-cup glass Pyrex containers with a little headspace at the top for expansion (I leave about 1/4-inch)
- In an ice cube tray so I can pop out cubes of pesto as needed
I find that pesto keeps well for at least six months in the freezer.
How to Defrost Frozen Pesto
If the pesto is frozen in a 1-cup container, I let it defrost in the fridge overnight (put a plate under it to catch any water that collects). If the pesto is frozen in an ice cube tray, I find that it thaws in about 20 minutes at room temperature.
Recipes Using Pesto (switch up the flavor a little and try this Pistachio Cilantro Pesto instead of basil!):
- Low Carb Baked Chicken Stuffed with Pesto and Cheese from Kalyn’s Kitchen
- Sundried Tomato Pesto Quiche from Well Plated
- Pesto Pasta Salad Recipe from Cookie + Kate
- BLTA Pesto Chicken Salad from Peace, Love, and Low Carb
- Parmesan Crusted Pesto Grilled Cheese Sandwich from Two Peas & Their Pod
- Garlic and Chives Goat Cheese and Pesto Puff Pastry Tart from An Edible Mosaic
- Add the garlic to a food processor and pulse until minced. Add the pistachios and pulse until finely chopped (don’t let it turn into pistachio butter, you want it to have some texture).
- Add the cilantro, salt, black pepper, and lemon juice and pulse until the cilantro is finely chopped.
- Drizzle in the olive oil while pulsing until it forms a chunky sauce (it shouldn’t be completely pureed).
- Serve, or store covered in the fridge for up to 3 days before serving.
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