This cilantro pesto recipe is full of flavor with hints of sesame, lemon, and garlic. It's nut-free too. But, full of crunch and texture from crispy, roasted chickpeas.
If you have a love of cilantro like me, then you may periodically end up with leftover bunches taking up space in the fridge. This may or may not be exactly what happened after our Cinco de Mayo celebration. 🙂
But, what if your family just doesn't want another recipe peppered with cilantro? What's a cilantro-loving girl to do? Don't throw it away...make Cilantro Pesto!
How to Make Cilantro Pesto
Chickpeas? Well, yes...although I do love chickpeas almost as much as I love cilantro, this inspiration is really out of necessity. My daughter has a nut allergy, so the often-used almonds were out. It turns out the little garbanzo bean is a terrific way to add taste, texture, and crunch to pesto!
To crisp up the chickpeas, roast them in the oven at 400 degrees F for 25-30 minutes. Since you're not using the whole can, doctor up the rest using this spicy roasted chickpeas recipe or this crispy curried chickpeas recipe. (And...yes, I have been wondering what would happen if I used spiced chickpeas in the recipe!)
Let me know if you beat me to this experiment!
Generally, I don't use that much cilantro in a recipe. So, pulling the individual leaves off the stems is no big deal. But, packing 2 cups full of leaves is a whole new ball game. I used scissors to cut off the thin stem shooting off the thicker one. The offshoot stems are tender and can be thrown right into the food processor.
Pesto is soooo easy to make. Just throw everything into a food processor and stream in the olive oil. I only had 1 cup of cilantro so this is a half batch.
I like the advice from Oh Sweet Basil on storing pesto. I had a little jar in the fridge that did not last very long.
There are endless ways to use pesto. Stir it into rice, pasta or vegetable soup. Spread it on a baguette or pizza crust. Slather it on chicken for a quick and tasty dinner.
It's like a magic condiment ready to transform your next meal!
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Cilantro Pesto with Chick Peas
- 1/2 cup chickpeas (garbanzo beans) drained and rinsed
- 2 cups cilantro leaves packed
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- Place chickpeas in a single layer on a baking sheet covered with aluminum foil.
- Roast chick peas for 25-30 minutes. Chickpeas will "rattle" in the pan when done and be slightly crunchy on the outside.
- Allow chickpeas to cool.
- Place cilantro, garlic, chickpeas, lemon juice, sesame oil, salt and pepper into a food processor.
- Slow stream in olive oil and pulse until the chickpeas are chopped and the mixture is a spreadable consistency.