Pesto with peanuts takes taste to a new level

Add cilantro and Asian spices for a mouth-wa­ter­ing top­per

The Province - - LIVE IT! - ELLIE KRIEGER

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.

— DEB LIND­SEY/FOR THE WASH­ING­TON POST

These pork cut­lets are topped with cilantro peanut pesto.

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