Pesto with peanuts takes taste to a new level
Add cilantro and Asian spices for a mouth-watering topper
This supremely tasty sauce takes the basic concept of a pesto into a delightfully different, boldly flavourful direction.
With cilantro as its base, it could rightfully be considered an Asianstyle variation on chimichurri sauce.
However you characterize it, it is luscious in its own right.
To make it, you whirr both the leaves and tender stems of a bunch of cilantro in a food processor with the aromatic dynamic duo of ginger and garlic, a bright punch of lime juice and a handful of roasted peanuts.
A pinch of crushed red pepper flakes provides a hint of heat, which you could certainly increase if you like things spicy. Peanut oil and toasted sesame oil, which add body and amplify the peanutty flavour, are drizzled gradually into the running food processor to emulsify the ingredients.
The result is a condiment so mouth-watering you will be compelled to put it on just about everything, so you might want to double the recipe to have extra.
(It will keep up to three days in the refrigerator.)
It instantly elevates simply grilled foods — vegetables, chicken, fish or meat — and it is wonderful drizzled liberally over eggs, potatoes, avocado toast or perfectly ripe summer tomatoes.
Here, its platform is lean pork loin, pounded into thin cutlets that cook in minutes on the grill.
They are simply seasoned to let the big-flavoured sauce have the limelight it deserves.
Krieger is a registered dietitian, nutritionist and author who hosts public television’s Ellie’s Real Good Food. She blogs and offers a weekly newsletter at www.elliekrieger.com.
Grilled Pork Cutlets With Cilantro Peanut Pesto
Serves: 6 (makes about 3/4 cup/180 mL pesto)
This herb sauce is delicious drizzled on simply grilled fish, chicken and vegetables, eggs, potatoes or ripe summer tomatoes.
The chops can be cooked on an outdoor grill as well.
For the pesto: 1 1/2 cups (375 mL) packed fresh cilantro, leaves and tender stems
1/3 cup (80 mL) unsalted, roasted peanuts 2 tbsp (30 mL) fresh lime juice 1 tsp (5 mL) minced garlic 1 tsp (5 mL) minced peeled fresh ginger root 1/4 tsp (1 mL) salt Pinch crushed red pepper flakes 3 tbsp (45 mL) water 3 tbsp (45 mL) peanut oil 2 tsp (10 mL) toasted sesame oil
For the pork: Six 3/4-inch-thick (2-cm) boneless loin pork chops 1/2 tbsp (7.5 mL) peanut oil 1/4tsp (1 mL) salt 1/4 tsp (1 mL) freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp (30 mL) unsalted, roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped, for garnish
Cilantro leaves, for garnish
For the pesto: Combine the cilantro, peanuts, lime juice, garlic, ginger, salt, crushed red pepper flakes and water in a mini food processor; pulse until finely chopped. With the motor running, drizzle in the peanut oil and toasted sesame oil to form a blended pesto.
For the pork: Place the pork chops on a cutting board and cover with a piece of plastic wrap. Use a mallet or rolling pin to pound them to a thickness of about 1/4-inch (6 mm).
Preheat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Brush both sides of the pork with oil and season with the salt and pepper, then grill until just slightly blush in the centre and grill marks have formed, 2 minutes per side.
Serve the pork with about 1 1/2 tablespoons (22.5 mL) pesto drizzled over each piece. Garnish with peanuts and cilantro leaves.
These pork cutlets are topped with cilantro peanut pesto.