Thursday, January 9, 2014

Cilantro & Pistachio Pesto

I had all sorts of traditional plans for last week's cilantro, including making another round of that Healthy Three Layer Taco Dip for a game night with friends.  Well you know what they say about the best laid plans. But oh happy accident, because, as I was staring aimlessly at the cilantro, it came to me...pesto!  Now, I 've never made a pesto.  I've eaten plenty of it, and my mother-in-law has mastered an amazing traditional pesto with dairy-free parm.  And though I've vowed to make it a thousand times for the Mister, I tend to be pretty darn lazy when it comes to using the kitchen appliances I have that require lots of random parts that will need hand washing.  But perhaps it's the smoothie kick I've been on, because I yanked my Cuisinart from the depths of my pantry and in no time at all I had concocted a Cilantro & Pistachio Pesto, that I promise you, promise, promise, promise, pinky swear promise, will NOT be able to detect that it's cilantro hiding in there! Not a soapy taste to be found anywhere.  So cilantro haters, I've found the solution for you, put it in your food processor or blender and make it pay!!!

Cilantro & Pistachio Pesto


1 bundle cilantro, washed and ends trimmed
4 cloves garlic
2 tsp lemon zest
Juice of 1 lemon
1/2 cup dry roasted & unsalted, shelled pistachios
1/2 cup olive oil (I'm going to play Barefoot here, use the GOOD olive oil!), plus 1-2 Tbsp more reserved if tossing with pasta
2-3 pinches Kosher salt

Place all ingredients in your food processor or blender and blend  until nice and smooth.  You won't have a completely smooth sauce, but you want all of the big chunks broken up (especially of the garlic) and have everything well-combined.  Scoop out and toss with cooked pasta of your choice, or use as a spread for crostini or some garlic pesto bread.  If tossing with pasta, add another 1-2 Tbsp of olive oil to keep the pasta from sticking and gumming up.

I found the pesto itself was perfect with about 2 pinches of Kosher salt, but once I tossed it with my pasta, it totally disappeared, so you will want to adjust with the salt content after you've tossed the pesto with the pasta and additional olive oil.  Also, I did not use Parmesan of any kind, but you could absolutely include it in the sauce.  To me the pistachios actually impart the same flavor profile as Parm would, so give it a try without and see what you think.  It at least helps to offset the calories from the bevy of olive oil that goes into this dish!

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