Cilantro Pesto Tapenade

Until recently, Cilantro's pungent smell and taste kept me away from really giving it a fair chance.  So I avoided it, until one day it showed up in my fridge when my sister stopped by and brought a container of cilantro pesto she picked up at the store.  Pesto is one of my favourite food condiment's, any kind really! After learning of Cilantro's big heath benefits I knew I couldn't avoid it any longer and had to give this one a try. I pulled out my trusty Organic Purple Tortilla chips from Neal Brothers, which is always in my pantry stockpile, and I scooped in.  

The pesto definitely had a distinct strong cilantro taste about it but I was determined to get past the pungency of it. I was already deeply invested into the taste testing, and wasn't ready to give up just yet, it was pesto for goodness sake! I looked in the fridge for something to offset the taste of the strong cilantro and found a container of Kalamata Olives. I had one to clear my pallet. I went in for another scoop of the pesto, then an olive, another scoop, get the point. It was working. The two flavours, cilantro and the olives, two very powerful yet distinct flavours were working so well together that they started to become their own unique taste.  The lightbulb went on, I got my notebook out and started to scribble my thoughts  on making this a one stop dip. 

So that's how my little concoction of this cilantro pesto tapenade was born.  Olivesto? Cilanpestonade? Tapento? Whatever you want to call it...  

Cilantro is really good for you!

Cilantro is high in Vitamin K & A, it's a great source of Vitamin C, along with potassium, manganese and other essential vitamins & minerals not to mention all antioxidants & dietary fibre it carries while it can also help cleanse your body of toxic metals....Just to name a few things

While I enjoy this as a dip, others enjoyed it also while I played the "guess what ingredients are in this dip" game.  I had my fun and it was time to move on and find some other uses for it.  My first thought was to put it onto pasta, but it needed to be more special.    

When I decided  a few years ago to eliminate pretty much everything I loved to eat, including wheat,  I was stumped when it came to pasta.  I quickly jumped onto the brown rice pasta band wagon.  Which has expanded to Quinoa pasta, buckwheat pasta, amaranth and corn pasta. I’m good with that, even though I’m eating a little more gluten now, I don't enjoy wheat pasta.  A quick and easy go-to meal for me is pasta with pesto.  When I make any kind of pesto now, I make it in big batches and freeze it in ice cube trays so when I need a quick meal, I pull a couple out of the freezer and voila!

While I do love pasta, I've been trying to incorporate more vegetables back into my diet, so what I love even more is the idea of having a plate of vegetables pretending to be pasta! The first time I tried Zucchini noodles, I used my mandolin to create strips of noodles, boiled up some buckwheat spaghetti, mixed it in with the raw zucchini noodles, and topped it all off with diced tomatoes and EVOO. It was pretty simple but "Baby steps" I said to myself.  

Holidays came and went and I finally had some time to try out my newly gifted addition to my appliance family, my spiralizer!  My first attempt was zuchinni.  I sautéed the strands in a  little Extra Virgin Olive Oil, added some of my olive pesto cilantro concoction...and the rest is history! 

Check out my Cilantro Pestonade recipe below...

It's really simple to make.  Have it as a dip, use in your pasta, or as a marinade! I'm sure I'll be testing this one out on so many more dishes! Let me know what you think, or what you've tried it with!

Ingredients :
makes about 1 & 1/2 cup

Bunch of Cilantro, roughly chopped -including leaves and stems (approx 100gr.)
1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives (approx 16)
2 large garlic cloves
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
Zest of 1 lemon
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
1/4 tsp sea salt
Pinch of chili pepper 
Pinch of black pepper

How To :
  1. Add pumpkin seeds to food processor and process until finely chopped. Set aside in separate bowl
  2. Add olives and garlic to food processor and whirl to a rough chop (about 15 seconds) scraping down sides along the way.
  3. Add cilantro and continue processing, about 30 seconds- scraping down sides. 
  4. Add finely chopped pumpkin seeds, lemon zest, lemon juice, EVOO, salt, chili and black pepper and whirl everything together until you have a fairly fine consistency. 


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