Even though I know that the word “pesto” refers to pounding ingredients into a paste (preferably using a mortar and pestle), I tend to associate it with basil – the classic pesto Genovese. So, this recipe using cilantro as the main herb perked my interest. I found it in the latest issue of Bon Appetit, and it seemed perfect for this time of the year, in which the temperature approaches 100 F every day, with no rain in the horizon.   Not that there’s anything wrong with it… 😉

(adapted from Bon Appetit)

1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 pound linguine
1 + 1/2 bunches fresh cilantro leaves
1/4 cup green onion, cut in large pieces
1/2 serrano pepper, seeded, quartered
1 garlic clove, minced
3 Tbs lime juice
salt and pepper
1/2 cup olive oil
3 Tbs tequila
cotija cheese to taste, grated (or crumbled feta)

To make the cilantro pesto:
Place the cilantro leaves in the bowl of a food processor and process it for a few seconds. Add the green onion, jalapeno pepper, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper, and process for 30 seconds. With the machine on, pour the olive oil until a thick paste forms – you may need a little more or a little less olive oil. (I usually opt for a lot less than recipes call for).

Cook the pasta until al dente. While the pasta cooks, heat 1 Tbs olive oil in a large skillet, add the shrimp and cook until it just starts to get opaque. Remove from heat, add the tequila, bring back to the stove and cook for about 30 seconds, until the tequila achieves a syrupy consistency. Add the pesto to it, cook a few seconds to warm it up. Add the cooked pasta and mix everything together until shrimp, sauce and pasta are well blended. Grate some cotija cheese on top and serve.


to print the recipe, click here

Comments: Cilantro haters will have to forgive me, but this pesto rocks! At first I thought this recipe could end as a major gastronomic disaster, due to cilantro overload, but its taste mellowed down in the final sauce. I had never tried cotija cheese, and did not particularly cared for its texture, but grated over the pasta it worked very well. Many people dislike adding cheese to seafood dishes, but I don’t have a problem with it: it definitely embellished this pasta.


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5 thoughts on “A TWIST ON PESTO

  1. I love Cilantro and pesto is an awesome way to enjoy it! So glad it turned out to be a great dish for you, looks yummy! I also am of the school that cheese and shrimp work just fine!

    Take the Cilantro Pesto to the next level and add a few roasted pureed tomatillos! Very good for grilled meats!


    • Yes, no nuts. I considered adding some, but decided to try the recipe as written. Next time, I might add a bit of macadamia nuts, it seems like a good “extra-twist”…


  2. Pingback: Linguine with Shrimp and Cilantro Lime Pesto | The Blog That Ate Manhattan

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