Sometimes I am a good meal planner. I look through the fridge, freezer and pantry to see what we have, what needs to be used, etc. and plan our week of meals out that way. Other times I find myself on Tuesday mornings after I drop the kids at school (this is when I like to grocery shop since I only have one child to accompany me) with no idea what we have in the fridge and pantry which leaves me searching for recipes on pinterest and making a grocery list while in the parking lot of HEB.
Thanks to my inabilty to plan, I sometimes come home and discover we already had 8 cans of tomatoes, or goat cheese, or couscous, or a dozen chicken breasts I could’ve thawed out, etc. Herbs are tricky. Often all you need is a few tablespoons for a recipe. Thankfully I’ve managed to keep rosemary and thyme alive in the back yard, but parsley and cilantro are another story and so I have to buy them. They’re not expensive, but when you don’t need much they often get forgotten in the bottom of the produce drawer. I bought cilantro for a recipe because I thought rather confidently “I know that I have parsley at home, but no cilantro.” Not the case! I had two almost completely full bundles of cilantro at home already, so when I unloaded groceries I now had three bundles.
What am I going to do with all of this cilantro?! A while back I made a peanut and cilantro pesto, so that’s what I thought of first. I didn’t have any peanuts. But I did have almonds…
At this point I had no plan for the pesto I’d just made, but I knew that I could save it. Freezing pesto in tablespoons to have on hand for later is a trick I am so glad I learned. Having something on hand in the kitchen is nice, but having pesto on hand is especially nice because you can incorporate some fresh herby-ness to a meal even when you don’t have fresh herbs or if they’re out of season.
The best way I’ve found to freeze pesto (this also works well for tomato paste) is to line a baking sheet with parchment, use a cookie scoop or tablespoon to divide up the pesto, and then pop the pan in the freezer. Once frozen solid you can put all the pesto balls into a freezer bag (I learned that labeling your bag is very helpful!) and take one or more out as you need them. They thaw out pretty quickly.
Of course I wanted to try some of the pesto right away. I ate some on a chip and it was good, but strong (like most pesto) and needed to be cut if I was going to eat it as a dip. Plain Greek yogurt seemed like the perfect choice.
I played around a little with the ratio but found a 2:1 yogurt to pesto was pretty good. Of course you could start there and add more yogurt or more pesto depending on your tastes.
The same thing could be done with mayo to make a nice sandwich spread. You could also spread the pesto on chicken breasts before baking, stir in to hot pasta, use as a dipping sauce for grilled meats or serve with grilled vegetables. Excited to try some of those out as summer and grilling season get underway!
Almond Cilantro Pesto
- 2 cups packed cilantro leaves, rinsed and dried
- 1 cup almonds, raw, skin on, toasted if desired
- 2-3 large garlic cloves
- 2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/3 cup olive oil (up to 1/2 cup if desired)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, more to taste
- ground pepper to taste
- Combine cilantro, almonds and garlic in a food processor and puree until smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
- Add the Parmesan and salt and pulse a few times to combine.
- With processor running, drizzle in the oil and process until smooth.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Cilantro Pesto Yogurt Dip
How much of the ingredients you need depends on your taste and how much dip you want to make. Below are the amounts I used to make dip for 2-4 people as an appetizer serving. Increase or decrease as desired.
- 4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) cilantro almond pesto
- 8-10 tablespoons (1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons) plain Greek yogurt (full fat or 2%)
- salt and pepper to taste
- Tortilla chips, pita chips, grilled bread
- Combine both in a bowl and mix well to combine.
- Serve immediately or chill until 5-10 minutes before serving, it gets thick when chilled so let it warm up at room temperature for a bit before serving.