Saturday, January 28, 2012

Roasted Poblano and Cilantro Pesto

The Background

I am revisiting a recipe I posted last January for a Cilantro and Pecan Pesto.  I recently had lunch with my beautiful bride and enjoyed a turkey wrap that had a poblano pesto sauce.  It was pretty tasty and I knew right away that I needed to incorporate this into my own recipe.

I mentioned in my original post that this recipe is quite adaptable, and I think this is a fantastic variation.  I used cilantro (instead of the more traditional basil) and pecans (rather than pine nuts).  Why?  Well, because this is Texas, not Tuscany; and it’s also what I had on hand! 


  • 1 bunch Cilantro
  • 3 Poblano Chiles, roasted and skinned
  • 1 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese (Grated)
  • 1/2 cup Natural Pecans (Raw)
  • 1 tsp. Crushed Red Pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. Sea Salt - Coarse
  • 1 tbsp. Pepper, Black
  • 2 Garlic Clove
  • 1 Large Shallot, roughly chopped


For the Poblanos, you will want to grill these either on an open grill or, if you have a gas burner, you can place the chiles directly on the grates of your burner.  We aren’t so much cooking these, rather we just want to char the outside of the peppers.  If you are doing this over a burner, make sure you turn them frequently.  Once the skin is nicely charred, put them immediately into a large Ziploc bag and zip it shut.  This create steam inside the bag.  After a few minutes steaming in a Ziploc, the skins will literally fall right off.  Then you can easily cut off the stems and remove the seeds.  Chop the chiles roughly.

The food processor will do almost all of the heavy lifting for this dish. I coarsely chop the cilantro and the pecans just to give my processor a bit of a head start. Make sure you use the whole bunch of cilantro.  The stems bring tons of flavor, and should not be discarded, especially if you have a good food processor that will not leave large, stringy stems in the finished product.  In the bowl of the food processor combine the chopped cilantro, chopped pecans, shallots, roasted poblano, salt, pepper, crushed red pepper, garlic and olive oil. Pulse to combine everything. Once everything is well blended, stir in the grated parmesan.

So, what can you do with this pesto?  As it is in the recipe, it is great on crackers or toast.  Feeling fancy?  Put a small spoonful on a cracker, top with finely diced tomatoes and sprinkle with additional parmesan.  It is bright and colorful and full of fresh flavor.  Or you can leave it in a bowl as a dip for pita or pasta chips.  If you take a quarter cup of the pesto and thin it a bit with chicken broth, it makes an awesome pizza sauce, top it with grilled chicken, roasted peppers, artichoke hearts, and shredded smoked mozzarella and let me know when I should be there for dinner! 

As I mentioned above, it makes a flavorful spread for sandwiches in place of mayo.  Or, you can take a quarter cup of it, again, thin it with chicken broth and toss with some freshly cooked cheese stuffed tortellini and some diced ham for a delicious pasta dinner.  Last idea, how about pounding out some chicken breast or pork tenderloin nice and thin, then smearing a healthy spoonful of the pesto into the center.  You can then roll the meat up, wrap in prosciutto and either broil or grill these for a dinner worthy of honored guests. 

I am sure there are other great uses for this, let me know if you find a great way to use this pesto!