Cilantro Pistachio Pesto – A True All-Star


Our Cilantro Pistachio Pesto makes an excellent sauce for pasta, seafood, fish, chicken, and veggies of your choice! In New Jersey we’ve been teased with strings of days in the 70s just to be batted back to reality with snow and gale-force winds. With St. Patrick’s Day approaching I keep thinking green, and hoping some four-leaf clover luck will make 70-degree days return for good!


While cilantro isn’t quite a four-leaf clover, it has a strong resemblance, and takes the lead role in this pesto. Cilantro is also known as fresh coriander and Chinese parsley. It tastes somewhat like parsley, but with a stronger grassy, citrus flavor. My crew loves it, hands down. If you’re not a fan, however; we blend in a bit of parsley to moderate cilantro’s stronger notes. That being said, if you’re in love with cilantro, add more in place of the parsley. You’re in charge of your kitchen!!

Cilantro Pistachio Pesto Ingredients


Unfortunately, pistachios seem to be the forgotten nut. When it comes to pesto, pine nuts and walnuts reign supreme. To boot, pistachios hardly ever make the cut for most folks’ ‘top-five nut list’. Almonds, pecans, and of course, peanuts are the frontrunners. And, peanuts aren’t even a nut; they’re a bean! So there’s your 411 for the day. 🙂 The pistachio is actually a member of the cashew family, a small tree originating in Central Asia and the Middle East. Pistachios have an almost creamy texture and unique, addictive flavor that work delectably in savory and sweet dishes. Can’t help but think of poor Mater in Cars 2  after slurping scoops of wasabi, “Don’t Eat the Pistachio Ice Cream!!!”


The beauty of any pesto is the simplicity of ingredients and ease of preparation. For this one, you’ll combine the first 7 ingredients, except the olive oil (or oil of choice), in a food processor, and pulse to mix. Next, let the machine run while slowly drizzling in the oil. The mixture will emulsify and take on a fluid, creamy texture (especially if you add the touch of cream as suggested here!).

    Cilantro Pistachio Pesto Spun in Processor

This non-traditional, versatile pesto will serve you well on pasta, steak, pork, chicken, seafood, and especially fish and vegetables, like our Sheet Pan Roasted Halibut, Green Beans & Mushrooms. I hope you enjoy this four-leaf-clover-inspired combo as much as we have!!

Sheet-Pan Roasted Halibut Green Beans and Mushrooms Served Cilantro Pesto


Cilantro Pistachio Pesto

This Cilantro Pistachio Pesto makes an excellent sauce for pasta, seafood, fish, chicken, and veggies of your choice!
Course Pesto, Sauce
Cuisine Italian, Mediterranean
Keyword cilantro pesto, pesto, pesto sauce
Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Servings 1 cup
Author Kim Peterson


  • 1 cup packed cilantro leaves
  • ½ cup packed flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 large garlic clove, chopped
  • cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • ¼ cup pistachios
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • Juice and zest of ½ a lemon
  • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste


  • Combine cilantro, parsley, garlic, Parmesan cheese, pistachios, cream, lemon juice and zest in a food processor. Pulse a few times to combine mixture. Scrape sides with a spatula.
  • With machine running, slowly drizzle in the oil. Continue to pulse for desired texture. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Makes approximately 1 cup. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before serving.)


* Pestos will oxidize when exposed to air, and begin to brown. Adding a little olive oil over top and laying plastic wrap directly on the pesto before covering in an airtight container will help the pesto stay greener longer.
Cilantro Pistachio Pesto - Give it Some Thyme

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