Some people find the taste of cilantro over-powering and unbearable. Me, I love it in just about everything. The upside is cilantro is strong so a little goes a long way. The downside is a little goes a long way so it typically goes bad before I can use it. I end up throwing more than half of the bunch away each time I buy it.
I often come home inspired after eating out – if I’m really inspired, I’ll try to remake the restaurant’s dish as closely to the original as I can. This time was a little different. I ordered a sandwich at my company deli counter last week and walked away with all my cilantro problems solved. The chicken sandwich came with a cilantro pesto that was not good. However, it did give me an idea on what to do with the extra cilantro sitting in the fridge. I modified my existing recipe for basil pesto:
2 cups cilantro leaves
2 garlic cloves
1/3 cup olive oil, divided
2 Tbsp pecans, chopped
2 Tbsp pine nuts
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
Put cilantro, garlic, and 2 Tbsp oil in a food processor and process until a rough paste forms. Add pecans, pine nuts, and cheese, and process until blended, stopping to scrape down sides. With processor running, slowly stream remaining oil through the top; process until smooth. The pesto will keep 5 days in the fridge or a month frozen.
The cilantro-pecan pesto works wonderfully on sandwiches and panini. It was surprisingly smooth. I was thinking the pesto might taste as if I had taken a huge bite out of a bunch of cilantro but this was not the case – the flavors of the pine nuts, pecans, garlic, cheese, and oil all come through.