Homage to Texas and Italy: Cilantro Pesto

I have been a very bad blogger recently. Any self-respecting internet food writer would have posted an article every day during my one-month trip through Mexico and Texas. I could blame the constant traveling, time constraints and patchy internet access… but the truth is, I didn’t feel much like sharing – not right away. I was so completely immersed in the experience that I knew I needed some time and distance in order to digest and process it all before having anything worthwhile to report.

That all changed when I found myself sitting on an airplane over the Atlantic toward Italy, reflecting on the weeks past. I whipped out my laptop and began sifting through the overwhelming amount of media eating up the hard drive. I was literally drowning in photos, videos, stories and recipes that, suddenly, I just couldn’t wait to share with all of you in the following weeks.

My parents threw a party on the ranch for our last night there, and I prepared a dish that represented my love of both Italy and Texas. I picked cilantro (Tex-Mex’s favorite herb) out of my mothers’ garden and made pesto with olive oil from Moneglia. As the blender whirled, a familiar green paste formed and the fresh and pungent smell was surprising to the senses.

Though I’m certain none of my Genovese friends will approve of this recipe, it holds a special place in my heart. We understand each other. It doesn’t really belong in Italy or America, though it could claim either as home. Perhaps Ligurians will feel the same about this pesto as I feel about traveling back to Texas, year after year: it looks familiar, but tastes completely different.

“Pesto Texano” / Pesto di coriandolo fresco

  • 2 cups packed cilantro leaves
  • 1 – 2 cloves of garlic, crushed (to taste)
  • 1 jalapeño o serrano pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1/2 cups almonds
  • the juice from 1 lime
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 pinch of cumin
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup of parmesan cheese, grated

In a food processor, pulse the cilantro, garlic, jalapeño, almonds, lime juice, salt and cumin until well blended. Add the parmesan, then, with the food processor running, slowly add the olive oil in a steady stream until reaching the desired consistency. Add more oil as needed.


  • I absolutely adore cilantro pesto. I found a recipe in a tiny book called “Pestos, Cooking with Herb Pastes by Dorothy Rankin” many years ago and I use it not only with fresh cilantro from the garden, but with cilantro that is tasting good from the grocery store. I use pecans and it is delicioso!

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