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Pesto with Basil, Mint, Cilantro?

Is this going to be a disaster? I have a lot of herbs I'd like to use up, but am wary of adding cheese to this? Do you think it would work with just plenty of olive oil and some pine nuts and garlic?


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  1. I have not made pesto with cilantro but I have done basil/mint & basil/mint/parsley and I leave out the cheese.

    1. I'm a purist on basil pesto - can't imagine any other herb mixed in would be an improvement (besides a bit of parsley, that is). But cilantro is good by itself, and it would probably be really good with mint. I would probably try it without the cheese first, and then add some if it needed it.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Bat Guano

        Thanks - I ended up realizing that I also had some pork prepared - from a Vietnamese dish - so I'm just going to heat that up, toss it with some rice noodles, and add a bunch of herbs and some broth. We'll see ....

      2. Are you thinking of adding all those herbs together?

        I just went to the food network and there are plenty of cilantro pesto recipes which sound like a popular fish condiment. The only other herb with the cilantro was parsely. What I might try is a cilantro pesto (look at the food network recipes) and slowly add portions of the other herbs and just see where the mix goes over the edge. Wish I had the abundance of fresh herbs to do that experiment with. Let us know how it turns out.

        1. I, too, am a basil purist in most cases but I like mint with almonds rather than pine nuts. I've done it with Parmesan, Pecorino, and without and liked all. There are so many combinations you can use with nuts and herbs! My favourite still remains basil.

          Are you looking for ways to use your hers? If so, you can make flavoured butters, all kinds of preserves (i.e. lemon oregano jam or basil jelly), flavoured salts, and so on.

          1. another option is the delicious and versatile zuni salsa verde (p294)

            1/2 cup tightly packed fresh parsley
            2-3 Tbsp tightly packed other herbs (incl tarragon, chervil, chives, cilantro, mint, watercress, basil, others)
            1 Tbsp capers, rinsed and dried
            2 tsp lemon zest
            1 Tbsp finely diced shallot
            pepper or dried chili flakes
            1/2-3/4 cup evoo

            1- 1 1/2 tsp dijon mustard
            1/2 chopped hard cooked egg or 1/4 diced avocado
            1 Tbsp chopped walnut or pine nuts
            1 tsp rinsed chopped preserved lemon
            1 tsp anchovies

            1. You might try making a pomade like that used at the late lamented Bazaar in Montreal. Their version was a paste of cilantro, fresh ginger and cumin, perhaps with a little olive oil. They smeared it on the inside of a whole, boned (from the inside), scaled but not skinned fish -- often a sea bream, striped bass or sea bas -- that they then grilled. It was perfect with cilantro alone but probably wouldn't suffer from the moderate addition of your other herbs. I imagine it would freeze well, too.

              1. I like mint/pistachio pesto. Especially with fish. I've used mint and basil together but did leave the cheese out as you were thinking. This is good with almonds and walnuts as well as pine nuts.

                I often make a cilantro/walnut pesto(again no cheese) that's really good with salmon.

                1. Mint and cilantro seem a ghastly sounding/tasting combination to me - why not just classic - basil and parsley with garlic, perhaps? I love cilantro, hate mint, but the two together with basil might taste like dishwashing liquid to some sensitive to cilantro.

                  1. cilantro can be a bitch in a food processor - if you use it, mince by hand unless you want the fibrous parts to bind around the spindle and maybe burn the motor out.

                    1. I make cilantro pesto all the time and I usually just make up the recipe according to what I have around the house. I'm not a huge fan of pine nuts, so I usually use walnuts or pecans instead (especially with the cilantro), there's something about the sweeter nuttiness that complements the flavor nicely. Also, for a southwestern twist I will often add a jalapeno or serrano to the mix, and instead of parmesan I use cotija cheese (which is essentially Mexican parmesan). And lime juice.

                      BTW I've never had a problem with cilantro being fibrous. I find the stems to be quite tender and much sweeter than the leaves. I don't use the herb right down to the root, though. I actually have a Thai street food recipe for leftover jasmine rice that calls for cilantro STEMS only, and it's wonderful. (They say to reserve the leaves for another use.)

                      I once had several large bunches of beautiful fresh herbs, and no way to use them all up before they would go bad. I improvised an herb paste to marinate and grill chicken breasts. In my case it was a combo of cilantro, sage, rosemary and thyme. I pulsed it up in the food processor with lime, garlic and olive oil and slathered a thick layer on chicken breasts and popped them under the broiler. Even though it was VERY herbal, it actually tasted lovely, fresh and green. I'd do it again.

                      1. I think the mint and cilantro pesto sound great..maybe skip the nuts, add some coconut milk instead of olive oil and some red chili flakes...
                        last year i had a dearth of thai basil, culantro, and mint and made a pesto with coconut, a little bit of fish sauce, and chilies...used it with rice noodles and it worked really well.

                        1. Thanks for all the great suggestions - here's what I ended up doing:


                          The herbs were left over from Sunday night's meal.

                          1. I've done this with sesame oil and some roasted peanuts. I sometimes throw in half a jalapeno too. It's awesome over grilled fish!

                            1. Usually on the weekend, I gather all the herbs that are remaining from the week and pick through them. I make pesto or what I call an herb dressing from mint, cilantro and basil. With the addition of water, and vegetable oil I make some pretty good concoctions.I can't say what is the ratio, because it's based on what's left in the bin. But at least a half cup of each herb. The results are to die for. I transfer to (yes a little plastic bottle) for easy usage. We love the addition to salad dressings, shrimp (really nice) soups, rice. The results can vary so you should taste it and then go forward according to your plan. You can make dipping sauces for regular and lettuce wraps or use it on sandwiches. I don't use it every single time on every sandwich, but I personally tend to use it because I really like it. The three herbs just work well together.

                              I don't add cheese or nuts. If I were going to make a pesto, say with spianch and or basil, then yes I add nuts (pinon, or walnuts (my favorite) or almonds etc.) romano and salt and pepper.These herb drizzles brighten a salad or a marinade.
                              For example lamb, they make a great drizzle over a lamb chop or use it on the bottom of the plate, it adds another note. I would only use olive oil cheese and nuts for Italian pestos, which I do love on quiche. There's just a whole lot of fun with these and I can't believe that I would toss them. When I first started making them I tried to freeze them in cubes, but it just wasn't enough. So I freeze about a cup or so now then start using it. Its rare that I have any left over. Making a salad with orzon and balsamic vinegar is another really good way... oh I can think of a zillion uses!

                              1. I'm a convert to mint pesto. Mario Batali's recipe and it is the same as basil pesto, but use mint. It has pine nuts, parmesan just like basil pesto. It's great on grilled fish.

                                1. I once made a "Thai flavored" pesto with cilantro instead of basil, peanuts, peanut oil, and no cheese. It tasted good over noodles with grilled shrimp on top.

                                  1. I've made a pesto with Japanese perilla mint (shiso) before. It was very citrusy and lighter to the palate than regular pesto. It was also great on baked potatoes.