I’d Do Anything for Some Cilantro Pesto!

“I’ll give you a kiss if you make me some cilantro pesto and put them on little pieces of toast”, she said. He knew he had her in the palm of his hand.

Today we will learn how to make an easy, but very unique appetizer for the Holidays.  You always need something new and different, and this is it.  It is inexpensive – total cost is about $3.00 for a tray of goodies – and quick – about 15 minutes from start to cleanup.

Pesto isn’t always about basil.  The word itself simply means “crushed or mashed” and you can make pesto out of many things – including cilantro, which is one of my all-time favorites.



“Cilantro contains an antibacterial compound, dodecenal, that has shown to be a safe, natural means of fighting salmonella, a frequent and sometimes deadly cause of foodborne illness.

Cilantro oil (derived from cilantro) has been found to assist the digestive system in the production of digestive enzymes.

Cilantro contains good quantities of an alcohol known as borneol that is capable of destroying viruses and germs that cause colds.

Cilantro is a natural anti-inflammatory and helps to alleviate the symptoms of arthritis.

Regular intake of cilantro helps to reduce bad cholesterol (LDL) and increases good cholesterol (HDL).

The benefits of cilantro may include an ability to help control blood sugar and fight inflammation. The antioxidants found in cilantro help reduce free radical damage from exposure to sunlight. Research shows that daily use of cilantro helps in preventing skin cancer.”  http://www.antioxidants-for-health-and-longevity.com/benefits-of-cilantro.html

Both basil and cilantro are amazingly powerful foods.  They contain significant amounts of vitamins –especially A and K – and minerals.  In Mexico where water and sanitation is sometimes a problem, everyone uses enormous quantities of cilantro in almost all meals, partly because of the anti-bacterial qualities of this magical herb.  In addition to all of that, it tastes wonderful.

Cilantro is found in every supermarket and is very inexpensive.  You can usually buy a large bunch of fresh cilantro for about $1.00.  Unlike other herbs, the stems are tasty and only the larger, woody portions should be discarded.

Cilantro and coriander is the same thing.  In the U.S. we use cilantro to refer to the leafy herb, and we say coriander to refer to the seed.  In Europe, they just say coriander for both.

Here’s how the dish will look:

Cilantro Pesto on Crostini

Here’s how you make it:

For the pesto:

  • Three cups of cilantro, which is usually one big bunch at the supermarket
  • 2 tbsp. of toasted sesame seed oil.  This is easily available at the supermarket and one bottle will last a long time.
  • 3 tbsp. of extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 1 tbsp. of lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup of pine nuts (optional)
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. black pepper
  • Walnut halves (optional)

For the crostini:

  • 1 baguette – get the thin style
  • Extra virgin olive oil


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Slice the baguette into rounds about ¼ to ½ inch thick.
  3. Put the rounds on a cookie sheet and brush with olive oil.  If you don’t have a pastry brush, make a little cone of paper towel and use the tip as your brush.
  4. Put the rounds in the oven for 8-12 minutes until they are toasted a light brown. Set aside to cool.  You have just made some wonderful crostini.
  5. Remove large, woody stems from the cilantro and put into a food processor.
  6. Add the sesame seed oil, olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, salt and pepper.
  7. Add pie nuts. if you wish
  8. Blend until smooth.  Assuming you have measured things correctly, you should have a rather thin paste.
  9.  Use a spatula to spread on the crostini.
  10. Decorate with walnut halves, if you wish.

Let me know what you think about this recipe.  Leave a “Comment” below.  Feel free to experiment and add other things to your pesto and share your experience.

Categories: Classic American Dishes, Classic Appetizers, Classic Recipes by Type

Tags: , ,

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