Cilantro Peanut Pesto Pasta

When it comes to pesto, I tend to think only of the basil and pine nut variety.  This one is my favorite.  But there are so many combinations of herbs and nuts that you can use to make pesto!  I find basil and pine nuts to be on the pricier end of the spectrum, so using cheap ingredients like cilantro and peanuts make this a wallet friendly pesto as well as a delicious one.  The pesto is tossed with some linguine and shredded chicken to make for a complete meal.

My Everyday Food magazine on the iPad is proving to be quite the handy resource.  I can put the iPad in my cookbook holder.  I don’t have to print out the recipe, and I don’t have to have my big laptop next to the stove and sink.  In addition to being convenient, there are a lot of quick and simple recipes, like this one.

I didn’t change much about the recipe.  I used less pasta than the recipe calls for.  I did this for a couple reasons.  I’d rather have more stuff in my pasta dishes and less pasta.  Also, my pasta was a 1 pound package.  I’d rather use half and have enough to use later for another recipe instead of using 3/4 and trying to incorporate 1/4 into a meal.  I had some pesto left over, so I should have just used the 3/4 pound.

The recipe calls for 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, but spice hasn’t been my friend lately.  So I left that out.  I used a little more ginger, added shredded rotisserie chicken for some protein, and used 2 tablespoons of soy sauce and found that to be plenty.  But start with 1 tablespoon, taste and adjust as you see fit.

Martha says you can use the entire bunch of cilantro, including the stems.  I’m not sure if the same is true for basil and parsley.  I would think parsley would be since the two are so similar (I’ve bought one instead of the other at the store on more than one occasion).  Basil, I don’t know.  But since basil leaves are so big it isn’t a difficult task to remove them from the stem.

This cilantro peanut pesto has inspired me to search out some other interesting pestos.  Here is a kale and walnut pesto from Lauren of Healthy Foods for Living.  And Cookie + Kate’s arugula and walnut pesto sounds amazing.

Cilantro Peanut Pesto Pasta

From Everyday Food


  • 1 bunch cilantro, 1/4 cup leaves reserved for serving
  • 1 clove garlic, smashed and peeled
  • 1 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated lime zest plus 2 tablespoons juice
  • 1 teaspoon light-brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup roasted peanuts, divided
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1/2 to 3/4 pound spaghetti or linguine, cooked according to package instructions
  • 2 cups shredded chicken (optional)


  1. In a food processor, combine cilantro, garlic, ginger, vegetable and sesame oils, lime zest and juice, brown sugar, and 1/4 cup peanuts. Pulse until a coarse paste forms. Season with soy sauce and pulse to combine.
  2. In a large bowl, toss pesto with pasta.  Stir in shredded chicken.
  3. Roughly chop remaining peanuts and sprinkle over pasta along with cilantro leaves.