Cilantro Mint Pesto
Cilantro and mint is an herb match made. These bright, bold flavors can enhance almost any dish, separately or together and are used vastly not only in Latin cuisine but hold herb thrones in Middle Eastern cooking as well. If you doubt the culinary correlation, remember that Muslim Arabs ruled Spain for almost eight centuries, conquering land from the Iberian Peninsula throughout Andalusia (Southern Spain). Food is among several other mutually influential cultural aspects that still thrive in Latin America, Spain and the Middle East.
My Cilantro Mint Pesto draws from flavors of these regions but uses the same preparation method as a traditional basil-based pesto. In addition to swapping out basil I also use Idiazabal (a hard sheep’s milk cheese hailing from Basque Country) instead of Parmesan. Use any kind of herb, hard cheese or nuts you would like, but this combination is special. Toss with pasta or serve as a sauce for chicken, seafood or lamb. The pesto can last for about one month, frozen in a well-sealed container. This will take only minutes to make and packs some serious nutritional value.
Ingredients & Method (makes about 1 cup)
- 1 Cup mint leaves
- 1 Cup cilantro leaves
- 4 garlic cloves, finely minced
- ½ Cup pine nuts, toasted
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1 Serrano or Jalapeno pepper, small dice (if you desire some heat)
- ¼ Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- ¼ cup Idiazabal, grated on a microplane (if available) or regular grater
- Salt to taste
In a food processor, pulse together mint, cilantro, garlic, pine nuts, salt, lemon juice and Serrano or Jalapeno (if using) until well combined. With machine running, slowly stream in olive oil until a paste has formed. Transfer to a bowl and fold in cheese. If necessary, adjust seasoning with salt and/or lemon juice.
For nutritional benefits of mint and cilantro: