Pesto used to be something I reserved for warm summer days using the pots of fresh herbs distributed around my Minnesota home. However, with the incredible fresh herbs available at area stores and co-ops, pesto has become a staple in my house year round! I love the way they concentrate the flavor of the herbs, adding new twists and greater intensity to otherwise rather mundane foods.
I first started making the traditional basil pesto during my college years as a way to make “fancy” pasta and risotto meals for friends. Cilantro pesto entered my kitchen many years later after Dr. Liz Orchard discussed the benefits involved with heavy metal detoxification. From then on I began tossing cilantro in almost everything I made!
While I adore the taste of any pesto made with fantastic hard cheeses, dairy and I don’t get along the best. Sigh… However, I have had a good time in the kitchen recreating some favorite recipes so that they are dairy-free! This cilantro pesto was born out of those experiments. I love to place a large dollop on top of grilled fish, roasted chicken, and even mixed in with cooked quinoa. You can also prepare this in bulk and freeze in an ice cube tray. This creates easy single servings for later use - an time-saving kitchen tip that all my patients appreciate. Enjoy!
Dairy-Free Cilantro Pesto
- 1 bunch cilantro
- 3 Tbsp. pine nuts (can also substitute unsalted sunflower seeds for a more nut-free version)
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- Juice of 1 small lemon
- ½ tsp. sea salt, can add more at the end if needed
- Cut lower stems (parts without leaves) from cilantro. (Note: Can chop these lower stems and toss with salads or add to soups if desired.)
- Place cilantro and pine in a food processor. Pulse until coarsely chopped.
- Slowly drizzle in olive oil as you continue to pulse.
- Add ½ of the lemon juice and ½ tsp sea salt. Pulse again until combined.
- Taste pesto and add remaining lemon juice and additional sea salt to taste.