Monday, March 08, 2010

Cilantro Pesto

I have a  hate-love relationship with this herb - Cilantro.  I used to hate this raw green leaf that sat side by side, closely clustered together with shredded green onions, like a couple who are in love and they were or still are, sitting on top of all dishes served in the restaurants.  At home, it was a different story, garnishes like these two never appear with our meals, cos we had to be frugal and garnishes were luxury,  perhaps that was why i hated garnishes, not because it did not taste good, it was because i have not eaten enough to like them.  Now, it is a different story, i don't know when i started to like these garnishes but i really love them.  Cilantro can be very expensive especially during the Chinese New Year Celebration in Malaysia but strangely and luckily, it is pretty cheap here.  The problem arises when it is cheap, i will buy a few bunches and cilantro don't keep so well and knowing this fact, have to find ways to use/cook them before they wilt.  Making pesto is one of the ways and pesto keeps well in the freezer until you need to use it.


2 cups, packed, of cilantro, large stems removed
1/2 cup blanched almonds
1/4 cup chopped red onion
1/2 teaspoon chopped and seeded serrano chile(optional)
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/4 cup olive oil


In a food processor, pulse the cilantro, almonds, onion, chile(if using), and salt until well blended. With the food processor running, slowly add the olive oil in a steady stream.

Add more oil as needed for your use.
Makes about 1 cup.



Anonymous said...

Hi Lily :),
In my house we use cilantro a lot for garnishes, my mom is just obsessed with it ha ha (well she's Mexican) but in case you wanted a recipe that you can use a bunch of cilantro, I make a green rice at home that is very simple and easy in the rice cooker.

I simply sautee in oil minced onions, garlic, bell pepper, then meanwhile I blend cilantro with about 1 cup water or less and add that to the hot oil I'm sauteeing it, add it to my cleaned rice in the rice cooker, season with salt, pepper, cumin, and msg and add as much water as needed (the water used to blend the cilantro plus whatever more is needed )

I made a blogpost if your interested. You can certainly substitute parsley in the rice recipe

You can cehck out my blog post for green rice :)


Unknown said...


thanks for green rice recipe. will certainly try and cook it. i have cooked cilantro rice before using cilantro cubes and it is delicious.

tinyskillet said...

Lily, I have the same love/hate relationship with cilantro. This pesto looks great! I think the more I use it the better I get to like it. Thanks!

Tuty said...

I can relate to your background story on cilantro. I didn't like it because my mother didn't like it. Now, I've eaten enough cilantro based food (Vietnamese, Indian, Mexican, Puerto Rican, Chinese), I've grown to enjoy them.

Cilantro and toasted coconut rice is delicious!

Anonymous said...

I love pesto! :)

Chris said...

I love cilantro but am the only one in the house who does! have learned that a bunch of cilantro can be placed in a cup of water, then have the whole thing covered by a plastic bag will last a week easily in the fridge. It is surprising that the roots continue to grow in the water. The roots are also often used in Thai cooking.

Unknown said...


thanks for the tip.

how i wish we can cilantro with roots on.

Pete said...

I ended up with lots of wilted cilantro every week. My wife found some nice containers in Jusco that are supposed to protect the vegetable kept inside, it works my cilantro can last more than a week! LOL!

Anonymous said...


I get confused between cilantro & parsley. Which one is yin sai & which one is hiong choi? Thanks!


Unknown said...


yin sai is cilantro or coriander leaves and hiong choi to me is kan choi which is chinese celery/parsley.

to have a picture of italian parsley, google for its image.

Anonymous said...

hi lily... i have been cooking from your blog for quite some time now and i have to say a huge THANK you for such beautiful and yummy blogging. i am malaysian as well and am living abroad. i'd say one does not realise how lucky they are to be surrounded by such simple but important comfort foods until they are far away from it. i have been away from malaysia for 5 yrs now and everytime i feel nostalgic i come and take a look at your blog and make something from it to feel closer to home. yesterday i made your char siew pau and they were amazing. i have still a little batch in my fridge (and even some kueh lapis from a while ago) ready to hit the microwave!! :)

as for the cilantro. i do not use it much in my cooking so when i buy a little bouquet of it, i tend to use a lil bit and then chuck the other half away. recently, i found that by freezing it in lil bags, they keep magnificently. i'd was and air dry them for a while before packing into individual packs. then when i need them, i take them out from the freezer and throw it directly into whatever i am cooking immediately. it's as good as fresh. this works with parsley, thyme, any herb actually.
just thought i'd share the thought with u.

thanks again lily!! and keep up the wonderful blogs!!! i am your biggest fan!!


Unknown said...


thanks, i am sure my readers will find this tip very valuable.

yes, i do keep some herbs frozen too especially green onions

Anonymous said...

Dear Aunt Lily,

I wanna ask u something, if i don't have Kosher salt, can i use normal table salt? Will it affect the whole pesto's taste? thanks for reply. I love your blog, today i just did your Muah Chee recipe, taste great!

Unknown said...


table salt is very much saltier than kosher salt, so use 1/4 tsp of table salt and adjust the taste accordingly

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