Cilantro Pesto Pasta | Cilantro Pesto with Almonds

Can you make pesto without basil and pine nuts? Oh yeah, why not? We can make it even without parmesan cheese. Here comes my cilantro pesto with almonds and a simple cilantro pesto pasta recipe prepared with the pesto for the lunch box. Don’t forget to check the notes section for the packing suggestion as well as how to prevent pesto from tasting bitter.


When it comes to lunch box recipes for kids, pasta is a quintessential ingredient. Weekly once I pack pasta. It can be simple tomato sauce one or with basil pesto or with white sauce or some seasonal sauces like pumpkin. If you have the sauce ready, packing pasta for lunch is pretty straightforward.

We all love our basil pesto. Be it on pasta or pizza or on a sandwich (recipe coming soon) we relish it. One beautiful day, when I ran out the fresh basil and store-bought pesto, kiddo asked for pesto pasta. I just saw the cilantro and said yes. Later I realized, I ran out of pine nuts too. So I had to use what I had in the pantry. Hence went with almonds.

I did not have time to remove the skin by traditional soaking and blanching process. So with the help of microwave, I blanched almonds and prepared pesto in a jiffy. I was a bit skeptical if the kiddo will like it or not but to my surprise the boy loved it. That yay and happy moment. But I tried the same with parsley, but vaandu was not relishing it as much as like the cilantro one. So for now, apart from basil pesto, we make this cilantro pesto quite often.

As you all know, most of the pesto recipes call for parmesan cheese. I avoid it not because of rennet mainly because kiddo cannot reheat his food and I prefer no cheese pasta for his lunch box. Whole foods and Traders Joe carry rennet free parmesan cheese these days. So, if you are looking for rennet free options check these stores.

Also, pesto oxides fast. So as soon as you prepare them, store them in a glass jar, wrap it with foil and close the lid and refrigerate it right away. I usually make it fresh and use it right away. But if you are making it ahead, make sure you store it properly to avoid the bitter taste later.

Cilantro Pesto Pasta | Cilantro Pesto with Almonds

Refreshing cilantro pesto with almonds and a simple cilantro pesto pasta with the same for the lunch box.

Ingredients:

  • Cilantro – 1 bunch ( 2 cups tightly packed)
  • Olive Oil – 3 tbsp
  • Garlic cloves – 2
  • Almonds – 12
  • Water – 1/2 cup
  • Salt – 3/4 tsp heaped
  • Pasta – 2.5 cups
  • Water to cook the pasta
  • Salt – 1/2 tsp
  • Oil – 1/2 tsp 

Prep-Work:

  • Clean the cilantro. I used the stems but discarded all the pale and yellow ones.
  • Wash thoroughly and pat them dry.
  • Add the almonds to 1/2 cup of water in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave it for 6 minutes. Allow it cool and remove the skin.
  • Peel the garlic skin and set aside.

 

Cilantro Pesto Recipe:

  • I don’t have a food processor. So I used my regular mixer jar in pulse mode to make this pesto. Add the cilantro, garlic, and almonds and grind it in the pulse mode. Do not run the mixer continuously.
  • When it is coarse, add 2 tbsps of olive oil and salt and pulse again. If your child prefers a smooth texture, then pulse until smooth.

  • If not, add one more tbsp of olive oil and mix it and transfer it from the mixer and store in a glass jar. Seal the top with a cling wrap and then cover it with the lid. Refrigerate it right away.

Cilantro Pesto Pasta Recipe:

  • I used penne pasta for this recipe. Cook the pasta as per the directions in the pack. For this measure, I used about 4 cups of water, and I added 1/2 tsp of salt and oil.
  • Reserve the pasta water approximately 1/4 cup and discard the remaining.

  • In a pan, add the cooked pasta, pasta water, and the prepared cilantro pesto and mix them. I do this over very low heat and turn it off the heat right after mixing.

That’s it. Pesto Pasta is ready. Allow it cool a bit before packing.

Notes:

  • Cleaning the cilantro, washing and patting them dry are all very important. Fresh and clean cilantro always yields good pesto.
  • Do not add too much of garlic. I would recommend starting with one or two, and after preparing, taste the pesto and depending upon the taste add more if required. Too much of garlic adds a bitter taste.
  • As I mentioned earlier, seal and store the pesto right after preparing because pesto oxidizes fast.
  • Do not cook the pasta for a long time after adding the pesto.

4 from 1 vote
Cilantro Pesto Pasta | Cilantro Pesto with Almonds
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
20 mins
Total Time
35 mins
 
Refreshing cilantro pesto with almonds and a simple cilantro pesto pasta with the same for the lunch box.
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Servings: 3
Author: Srividhya G
Ingredients
  • Cilantro - 1 bunch 2 cups tightly packed
  • Olive Oil - 3 tbsp
  • Garlic cloves - 2
  • Almonds - 12
  • Water - 1/2 cup
  • Salt - 3/4 tsp heaped
  • Pasta - 2.5 cups
  • Water to cook the pasta
  • Salt - 1/2 tsp
  • Oil - 1/2 tsp
Instructions
Prep-Work:
  1. Clean the cilantro. I used the stems but discarded all the pale and yellow ones.
  2. Wash thoroughly and pat them dry.
  3. Add the almonds to 1/2 cup of water in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave it for 6 minutes. Allow it cool and remove the skin.
  4. Peel the garlic skin and set aside.
Cilantro Pesto Recipe:
  1. I don't have a food processor. So I used my regular mixer jar in pulse mode to make this pesto. Add the cilantro, garlic, and almonds and grind it in the pulse mode. Do not run the mixer continuously.
  2. When it is coarse, add 2 tbsps of olive oil and salt and pulse again. If your child prefers a smooth texture, then pulse until smooth.
  3. If not, add one more tbsp of olive oil and mix it and transfer it from the mixer and store in a glass jar. Seal the top with a cling wrap and then cover it with the lid. Refrigerate it right away.
Cilantro Pesto Pasta Recipe:
  1. I used penne pasta for this recipe. Cook the pasta as per the directions in the pack. For this measure, I used about 4 cups of water, and I added 1/2 tsp of salt and oil.
  2. Reserve the pasta water approximately 1/4 cup and discard the remaining.
  3. In a pan, add the cooked pasta, pasta water, and the prepared cilantro pesto and mix them. I do this over very low heat and turn it off the heat right after mixing.
  4. That's it. Pesto Pasta is ready. Allow it cool a bit before packing.
Recipe Notes
  • Cleaning the cilantro, washing and patting them dry are all very important. Fresh and clean cilantro always yields good pesto.
  • Do not add too much of garlic. I would recommend starting with one or two, and after preparing, taste the pesto and depending upon the taste add more if required. Too much of garlic adds a bitter taste.
  • As I mentioned earlier, seal and store the pesto right after preparing because pesto oxidizes fast.
  • Do not cook the pasta for a long time after adding the pesto.
 

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33 thoughts on “Cilantro Pesto Pasta | Cilantro Pesto with Almonds

  1. I love pesto s! Such a versatile condiment! I have always made with either walnuts/almonds never got pine nuts! Love the fresh color of the pesto and that pasta looks yummilicious!! ❤️Thanks for the tip on storing the pesto!

  2. A nice colorful pasta with healthy pesto…just the right way to gets kids to finish their lunch. I guess even if I had that in my lunch box I wouldn’t mind at all… after all who doesn’t like a good pasta dish.

  3. My elder one loves vegan pesto with almost anything from bread to chapatis n pasta. We have a similar vegan version at home with basil n mint . Must try this. I too avoid Parmesan coz of the rennet.

  4. My daughter loves pasta but she is not a fan of the traditional pesto. Your version with cilantro and almonds sound like a flavour she would like. Will be trying this beautiful pasta dish soon. Thanks for all the tips..

  5. This is a great alternate to basil pesto. There are days when I don’t have access to basil and the stores sell them for so expensive price. Not sure about the boys but me and my husband would love this.

  6. sapna

    Cilantro pesto pasta looks so nice ad filling dish for lunchbox. My girls prefer sauce over pesto so I mostly make the sauces but I do live fresh pesto in pastas. Wonderful dish to pack in lunchbox.

  7. We love pasta in my house too. Never made cilantro pesto though. Your peso has a beautiful green color which makes it so inviting. My kids would love this with pasta too.

  8. manjulabharathkumar2016

    wow such an flavorful pesto pasta there , loving the wonderful green hue coated all over the pasta so well. They are a no fail kids lunch box attraction I say , even a adult like me ain’t able to resist these . Your son is so lucky to have a mom who makes such variety of lunches , You have not even failed to attract but also put together a healthy pesto to make these pasta .. I can smell the flavors from the cilantro just looking at them ..Almonds with skin in pesto is wonderful option … Fantastic captures and pictorials !!

  9. Cilantro pesto has a beautiful green which is making the pasta look fantastic . I agree the pesto nowadays is substituted with many other nuts and greens . It is all about getting innovative and what the kids like . Very good take on that pesto !

  10. Wow! that is a vibrant looking pesto. I need to check with the kids if they like the cilantro flavored pesto. Fingers crossed, I hope my kids like it so that I get one more lunch box recipe :)

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