Thursday, July 21, 2011

Twirled Tour: Presto Pesto!

Since we're heading down to Chicago this weekend, we don't have a lot of food in the house. And when I don't have a lot in the fridge, I typically resort to pasta for dinner. In honor of Festa Italiana this weekend, I thought I'd try something new ... and while cilantro may not be a traditionally Italian ingredient, I definitely think I pulled it off!

Cilantro Pesto
1/4 cup pine nuts
1 packed cup cilantro leaves
3 cloves garlic
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons grated Romano cheese
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 lb. pasta (of your choice)

Pulse pine nuts in a food processor until finely ground. Add cilantro, garlic, red pepper flakes, and 1/4 cup cheese. Blend until smooth. With food processor running, add lemon juice and oilve oil. Blend until well-combined. Season with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, you should be boiling your pasta. When pasta is cooked, reserve 1 ladle of the cooking liquid, then drain pasta. Toss warm pasta with pesto, adding reserved cooking liquid as necessary (I only added a tablespoon or so).

Serve topped with remaining cheese.

I'm feeling pretty proud (or full) of myself right now, because this dish was AMAZING. If you read my blog often, you've probably noticed that I don't whip up a lot of my own recipes ... I tend to stick to sources I trust, like America's Test Kitchen or just about any Food Network chef. But I realize that I need to get more creative in the kitchen, and this was one attempt. Thank god it worked out!

I was unsure of my pine nut-cilantro-Romano combination, but the flavors worked somewhat surprisingly well together. I had to make a couple of adjustments because I initially went too heavy with the lemon juice, but a bit more of the salty Romano cheese mellowed out that tartness. I also had a heavy hand with the red pepper flakes (probably because Bill likes it spicy and I aim to please!), so I'll scale back next time. (The measurements above reflect that scaling back ... I probably used closer to 1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes tonight).

I cannot wait to make this pesto again. Actually, I technically made it twice tonight! Bill and I were both so in love with it that I boiled a second pot of pasta to use up the leftovers right away :)


  1. I think it's time Bill bought you a SUPER snazzy camera, perhaps with smell-o-vision, so you can capture this deliciousness as accurately as humanly possible for everyone miles and miles away ;) But my goodness, that looks so incredibly good!

  2. Smell-o-vision is a genius idea ... I imagine the Food Network could get behind that invention!