Pasta with Cilantro-Peanut Pesto

This might be my new favorite pasta dish.  If you’re a fan of our Thai Peanut Noodles, you’ll probably love this one too.  It’s pretty quick and easy to put together, so it makes a great meatless main dish, or a side dish (try it with our Thai Beef Skewers) or you could toss in some grilled chicken or steak for a one-dish dinner.  The profile is bright and fresh and perfectly summery.  While a traditional pesto starts out with loads of fresh basil- this version uses cilantro instead.  Don’t bother picking the leaves off the stems; cilantro stems are tender and flavorful, so chop them up with the leaves.

Then we add tons of flavor: sesame oil, red pepper flakes, brown sugar, garlic, lime juice, lime zest, soy sauce and fresh ginger.  Instead of pine nuts in an Italian pesto, we’re tossing peanuts in this one.

Pop everything except for the soy sauce in a food processor

And process it until it looks like a pesto, fairly smooth but with pieces of cilantro and peanuts still.  Add in a little soy sauce at the end.

That’s it folks.  Toss that pesto with hot pasta; sprinkle it with a little chopped peanuts and cilantro and you’re good to go.  I like a little fresh squeeze of lime juice too.  The pesto itself it super yummy over grilled steak too.

 The flavors are so fantastic; it’s like you can taste every little ingredient in there; the sweetness of the sugar and ginger, a hint of spice from the pepper flakes, the roasted crunch of the peanuts and a little freshness and tang from the lime juice and cilantro.  Try it; you’ll love it!

PS- One tip I have is to serve it immediately.  As with many pasta dishes, the longer it sits, the pasta absorbs the sauce and the flavors mellow.  Leftovers still taste great, but the fresher the better.



  1. This looks delicious, but I’m on a low fat diet. Do you think it would change the taste too much if I replaced the vegetable oil with EVOO?

  2. So…I’m pretty slow about finding awesome food blogs (kinda behind the curb here 😉 but holy crap I am reaaaally enjoying your site!! So great to see yummy healthful recipes presented in such a beautiful way. Very nice work and nice to finally stumble upon you!!

  3. I am finally at a point in my life where my taste buds have changed and I actually like cilantro. I hated it for so long! This recipe looks and sounds delicious and I will be trying it soon!

  4. I totally understand and vouch for your suggestion not to mix it in with the pasta until time to serve, but how far ahead do you think you could make the pesto and maybe refrigerate until ready to use? I’d love to make this at home and then take it with us to the beach…

  5. Love the Everyday Food Magazine, and I had this on my list of recipes to try — it’s good to know it was a success!

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