Cilantro Pesto with Red and Black Pepper

Kick is added to this cilantro and basil pesto sauce by adding a touch of red and black pepper in place of the traditional pine nuts. The sauce can be mixed with additional olive oil for use as a dipping sauce for sourdough baguette. It may be mixed with mayonnaise or used straight as a spread for sandwiches. With slight modification, it may also be used as a base for a pasta sauce.
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   1.5 ounce Fresh Basil (about half a bunch)
   1.5 ounce Fresh Cilantro (about half a bunch)
   1   tsp   Red pepper flakes (adjust to taste)
   1   tsp   Black pepper (adjust to taste)
   1   bulb  Garlic (medium bulb, i.e. about 5 cloves)
   2   Tbsp  Olive oil
   1/3 cup   Grated parmesan cheese 

Wash the basil and cilantro. Remove most of the stalk, leaving mostly leaves (it is not critical to get rid of the stalks, but it makes the sauce smoother to use mostly the leaves). Add to the container from a hand blender. Peel, clean, and remove the ends from the garlic cloves and add to the container. Add the red and black pepper and olive oil and blend until the mixture is liquid. Add the parmesan cheese and blend until evenly mixed. At this point it will be a paste.

To use as a dipping sauce, mix one part pesto with one part additional olive oil in a small dipping bowl.

To use as a sandwich spread, spread directly on the bread or toast before adding other ingredients, or mix one part pesto to one part mayonnaise and spread on bread or toast.

To use as pasta sauce DO NOT add the parmesan cheese while blending. Instead, cook the pasta. Saute chicken cut into small cubes (optional). Add the pesto sauce (without cheese) to the chicken and add another TBsp olive oil. Cook for another minute. Drain the pasta, add to the chicken and pesto sauce and toss until the pasta is well coated. Then add the the parmesan cheese and toss some more.

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Copyright 2001 Clifford Neuman