Cilantro Pesto


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Makes about

    1 cup

Appears in

Cooking One on One

Cooking One on One

By John Ash

Published 2004

  • About

This pesto uses ingredients from the Mexican larder. I’ve cut back on the oil and substituted a little stock to reduce the fat and make the mixture easier to puree.


  • 3 cups packed fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1 tablespoon chopped poached or roasted garlic
  • cup toasted pepita seeds (see Note)
  • cup crumbled Mexican cheese such as Queso Fresco or Queso Anejo
  • ½ teaspoon minced jalapeño chile, or to taste
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh tomatillos (optional but very desirable)
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons or so homemade vegetable or chicken stock or your favorite canned broth
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste


Drop the Cilantro into a pot of boiling water for 5 to 10 seconds. Immediately drain and plunge into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking and set the color. Drain well, pat dry, and chop coarsely. Transfer to a food processor or blender and add the garlic, pepitas, cheese, chile, tomatillos, and olive oil. Process in short bursts until combined but not completely smooth. Add the stock a bit at a time until the sauce is as thin as you like. 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.