21 August 2012

Jalapeño pesto (no cheese!)

For those who know me, it should come as no surprise that I was extremely, EXTREMELY excited to discover that fresh jalapeño chiles are available in Thailand. Not just imported ones, mind you, but jalapeños grown right here on Thai soil (though they only seem to be available at the expat-oriented Villa Supermarket chain). A package of 6-8 sells for only 34.75 Thai baht, which is just a little over $1 US. Ever since making this discovery, fresh (as well as pickled) jalapeños have been a staple in our fridge.

For the longest time, I've been eyeing this recipe for jalapeño basil pesto from Hetal and Anuja at Show Me The Curry. I made it tonight, and though I had no intention of making a post out of it, I made a number of changes and it was so good that I just had to share! Just a wee bit of basil was used since we did not have much in usable shape, the rest replaced by fresh coriander. Neither the jalapeño nor the garlic was sauteed as the recipe calls for, and there was absolutely no need to do so. I also replaced the walnuts called for in the recipe with cashews, which I think are a milder and less bitter substitute. And last but not least...no Parmesan (or any other) cheese! As I've lamented about many times, Luis hates cheese! But that has never stopped me from sneaking small amounts into pestos and other dishes where he probably wouldn't notice *shhh*. Not tonight though, as the wee bit of Parmesan in our fridge had gone bad (a common problem here...cheeses don't seem to last long, plus they just sit around largely uneaten chez nous since I am the only cheese-eater in our household...maybe it's time to stop buying!). So this made for a totally vegan and totally spicy and delicious pesto!

We enjoyed this pesto in a creamy sauce flecked with vegetables over pasta (also a recipe from Hetal and Anuja). It would also be great as is mixed into pasta, as a dip for bread or crackers, swirled into a neutral soup (e.g. potato) or as a base for bruschetta, blini or canapés. There are tons of possibilities, but just make sure that you make this ASAP!

Adapted from Hetal & Anuja, Show Me The Curry
Makes 1/4 - 1/3 cup

1 cup chopped fresh coriander
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves (Thai or regular)
1 jalapeno, sliced (do not remove the seeds!)
3 garlic cloves, peeled
1/4 cup cashews
1/4 cup olive oil
Salt, to taste
Lemon juice, to taste

1. In a food processor, process all of the ingredients except for the salt and lemon juice into a coarse paste.

2. Gradually add salt and lemon juice and process more until you get a smooth paste. Check for taste and add additional salt or lemon juice if necessary.

Note: This will keep in the fridge for 3-4 days or up to 4 months in the freezer.


  1. Thanks for sharing! Love the changes you made. I much prefer the taste of cashews. We don't have a food processor but I'll figure out another way to get the same effect when I try the recipe.

    Will let you know how it comes out.

  2. Yes! This is my kind of pesto. NO cheese and lots of flavor. I will definitely be making this. Gorgeous!

  3. So interesting! We made a similar concoction recently with spicy padron peppers, lime and walnuts. The pesto was delish, but so spicy that I wasn't sure what to do with it. I really like your idea of adding it to a mild potato soup!

  4. Such an interesting mix of flavours! I'd love to have a box of this in this in my fridge! Very verdant!

  5. What a wondderful mix of ingredients :D

    Choc Chip Uru

  6. Might be interesting mixed into a risotto too! Delicious!!

  7. Oh YUM! I love jalapenos and this is a great recipe. I have never seen a spicy pesto before. Would love to try making this.