Asian Pesto

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Preparation info

  • Makes about

    1½ cups

    • Difficulty


Appears in

Cooking One on One

Cooking One on One

By John Ash

Published 2004

  • About

To complete the transformation from Mediterranean to Asian, substitute a teaspoon or two of Asian chili-garlic sauce for the serrano chile. Toss with some fresh or dried Chinese noodles for a new take on pasta al pesto.


  • 3 cups packed fresh basil leaves
  • 3 cups packed fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1 cup packed fresh mint leaves
  • 2 tablespoons peeled and finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 3 tablespoons chopped poached or toasted garlic
  • 1 teaspoon seeded and finely chopped serrano chile, or to taste
  • Zest and juice of 1 medium lime
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil, or to taste
  • ¼ cup chopped dry-roasted unsalted peanuts or cashews
  • ½ cup or so peanut or olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste


Drop the Basil, cilantro, and mint into a pot of lightly salted boiling water for 5 seconds. Drain and immediately plunge into ice water to stop the cooking and set the color. Drain, squeeze dry, and chop the herbs. Transfer to a blender or food processor, and add the ginger, garlic, chile, lime zest and juice, sesame oil, and peanuts. Pulse a few times to chop and then, with the motor running, slowly add the peanut or olive oil in a thin stream, stopping a few times to scrape down the sides. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Store covered in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.