Cilantro Pesto

Karthik: Everyone has a signature dish; this one is mine. Although I’m a fan of basil, I find regular pesto to be quite powerful in flavor and oil. That, coupled with the fact that Sneha doesn’t like Parmesan cheese, led me to create this fun twist on the classic pesto. 

This pesto requires no cooking, has just three steps and a wonderful nutty flavor – the secret? A combination of walnuts, almonds AND pepitas!

Coarse Chopped Nuts before adding cilantro.

After adding cilantro, blend with oil until a pesto-like mixture.

We usually make a huge batch of this and use it over multiple meals – stores really well in the fridge for about a week. We use it in a bunch of different ways: 

  1. Pesto Pasta – sauté your choice of veggies, add the pesto and your favorite cooked pasta. Pro tip: thin out the sauce with some pasta water.
  2. Pizza / Flatbread – skip the traditional sauce and use pesto as your base, add your favorite toppings! 
  3. Omelettes / Hash – works great in cheese omelettes or mixed with veggies & scrambled eggs for a hash.
  4. Sandwiches – this pesto is an amazing spread for sandwiches layered with some roasted veggies or a classic tomato/mozzarella.
  5. Grilled Cheese – amp up your grilled cheese game with some of this pesto.

Tips & Tricks

  • In a pinch, you can sub pecans for walnuts – they aren’t as nutty which leads to a more subtle flavor but suffice.
  • I prefer to go light on the oil, so the pesto ends up thicker as this works better for longevity – it refrigerates well for up to 1 week. Depending on what use you it for, you can thin it out with either oil or water for use in multiple meals.
  • You want to grind your whole nuts first to break them into smaller pieces before you add cilantro or spices. This will lead to a smoother pesto with consistent nutty goodness.
  • You can use the cilantro stems as well to reduce food waste – lightly chop the stems before processing to avoid any stringy pieces 

Recipe Information, Ingredients, Directions

  • Prep time: 20 minutes
  • Cook time: none
  • Yield: 2 cups of pesto


  • 2 bunches (or about 2 cups) of lightly chopped cilantro
  • 1/3 cup almonds (roasted, unsalted)
  • 1/3 cup walnuts (roasted, unsalted).
  • 3 tablespoons (or a palm full) of pepitas
  • 1 or 2 serrano chilies 
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Paprika
  • 1 teaspoon chopped garlic (or powdered if you have)
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 a lemon squeezed for juice (more if you like)


  • Place the nuts and seeds in the food processor first together with the lightly chopped chilies and garlic, and pulse the processor until the contents are slightly crumbled and large, whole nuts have been chopped.
  • Add the cilantro, spices and some olive oil and continue processing.
  • Start with a little bit of oil and slowly add oil until you achieve a pesto-like consistency.  You can add oil to your liking.

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