One thing I love about living close to Houston is that there are all kinds of resources for local food and products. About once a month I take advantage of a CSA that delivers fresh produce close to my house. Of course, it’s the highest quality, locally grown produce available, but sometimes I struggle with how to use it all.
…especially the turnips. Seriously, can someone tell me what to do with turnips? I usually give them away or wait for them to go bad and toss them. Another thing that I have difficulty using up is the cilantro.
I tend to think of it as more of a garnish, rather than a main ingredient, and it makes me so sad to trash slimy cilantro. This month, I remembered an article in Food Network Magazine about the idea that pesto doesn’t have to be limited to the pine nut and basil tradition. Many fresh herbs and nuts could work.
Cilantro and hazelnuts seemed like a great combination, and they really really were. This is some of the best pesto I’ve ever tried.
Just be sure to use fresh cilantro and good quality parmesan. It will taste better if you grate it yourself. The pre-grated stuff has cellulose added to it and loses some of it’s freshness. The cellulose prevents clumping, but you don’t need it in your pesto.
- 2 cups fresh cilantro leaves (stems removed)
- 1 cup toasted hazelnuts
- 1 cup parmesan cheese, grated
- 1 cup olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled
- ¼ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp pepper
- Pre-heat oven to 300 degrees.
- Line jelly roll pan with parchment paper and add hazelnuts.
- Toast in the oven until skins darken and begin to crack. You can rub them in a towel to remove some of the excess skins, but in this recipe, I don't think the added texture from the skin detracts from the taste at all.
- Allow hazelnuts to cool slightly.
- In a food processor, add cilantro, hazelnuts, grated parmesan, garlic cloves, salt, and pepper. Pulse for 30 seconds until you have a fairly smooth, consistent mixture.
- Pulse again while slowly adding the olive oil in a steady drizzle.
- Add to pasta, fish, chicken, or veggies. Spread on bruschetta or simply eat with a spoon!
- Leftovers can be stored in a tightly sealed container, refrigerated, for up to one week.