cilantro-pestoNow that I’ve discovered vegan parmesan cheese, I’m eager to expand my horizons and include it in a couple pesto variations. Everyone is familiar with the traditional pesto alla genovese, made with fresh basil, garlic, pine nuts, and parmesan cheese, a recipe I’ve included below. But I’m taking this one outside the box with cilantro, lime, and jalapeno. What can I use it on? Well, just about anything: pastas, seasoning soups, spreading on breads, crackers, and sandwiches. The word pesto in Italian is pestare, which is to pound or crush. So whether you’re making Indonesian and Indian sambals, or South American chimichurris, the technique stays the same. It’s the variation of ingredients that are limitless.


1-lrg bunch cilantro or 2-small bunches, washed, stems removed

6-sm garlic cloves or 4-lrg cloves

1-jalapeno with seeds, sliced*

1/2 cup pine nuts

1-cup extra virgin olive oil

1-lime, squeezed


3/4 cup vegan parmesan cheese

1/2-tsp Himalayan or sea salt

1-tsp ground cumin

1/2-tsp onion powder

*Heat levels vary from chili to chili. Sometimes I use a whole jalapeno and it’s just right. Other times, my mouth is on fire, so I’ve learned to taste test when adding to recipes. I highly recommend starting with a couple of slices and adding according to individual heat tolerance.



In Cuisinart food processor add first six ingredients and pulse on and off to chucky consistency. Add remaining spices and vegan parmesan, pulse on and off then taste and adjust with additional sliced jalapeno, cheese, and oil. Continue pulsing till desired consistency.


Since basil and cilantro are delicate leafy herbs, they tend to brown quickly when oxidized, so I suggest if preparing ahead to freeze pesto in ice-cube trays to retain its vibrant green color and freshness.

Traditional Pesto alla genovese:

2-cups firmly packed fresh basil leaves, stems removed

6-sm garlic cloves or 4-lrg cloves

1/2 cup pine nuts

1-cup extra virgin olive oil


3/4-cup vegan parmesan cheese

1/2-tsp Himalayan or sea salt

fresh cracked pepper to taste.

Follow method above.