As the warmer season begins, my body starts to wish for the beautiful pesto with different herbs such as basil, cilantro, arugula, and mint. There are different ways to use these pestos, and yet one of the classic ways is definitely with pasta.
I love eating cold pesto pasta on a warm sunny day! The freshness of the cold pasta, the green color, and fragrant flavor of herbs with nuts and the quality of oil brings me a sense of happiness and joy.
Cold noodle dishes are a classic food for Japanese people in the warmer season. I love cold soba and somen noodles. How the cool temperature and somewhat crisp texture of the cold noodle enters into my mouth is absolutely refreshing and delicious to all of my senses. Usually we eat cold noodles with various garnishes. Pungent flavors and bitterness of the garnishes are the magical additions to bring freshness and complexity into the noodle dish.
Health benefit of cilantro
We got a beautiful bunch of cilantro at the farmers market the other day. It lifts my spirit when I see the basil and cilantro coming back, feeling another warm season has begun. Having cilantro in my hand, my fantasy immediately travels to make a delicious pesto with it. Cilantro is known to be high in antioxidants as well as good for the heart, as it lowers the blood pressure and level of cholesterol. In Eastern medicine, cilantro helps to enhance the flow of “chi” in our body by eliminating the stagnant moisture inside.
Recipe idea for the pesto
When I lived in Hawaii in a sustainable farming community, we often made cilantro pesto with cilantro, macadamia nuts, garlic, olive oil, and salt, as macadamia nuts were growing locally. Here at my home in California, I decided to make the pesto differently.
Firstly, I decided to make it without any garlic. As cilantro has such a beautiful and unique aroma, I didn’t want to have any interruption of strong garlic flavor.
Secondly, I decided to use cashew nuts this time to realize a creamy texture. Or you can also combine cashew nuts and hemp seeds. I tried both and both are very delicious.
Thirdly, I added much Meyer lemon juice and zest to enhance the freshness, for which cilantro and lemon are a golden combination. Instead of Meyer lemon, normal lemon can also surely be used. Lime could also be a wonderful alternative.
And lastly, I decided not to blend with olive oil but only with water, then drizzling flax oil on the top of the noodle. Making pesto usually requires a good amount of oil, and I wanted to make it without using too much. With the good fat content of cashew nuts, the pesto became beautifully rich and creamy without any oil. And drizzling flax oil on the top, we can make our body happier with its omega-3 fatty acid.
This pesto can be used not only for the pasta, but also for various dishes as a sauce. For example, you can dip your steamed vegetable in this sauce which will be such a delightful dish. I also used it for me vegan taco, and it was so delicious!
Angel Hair—perfect pasta for the cold pasta!
For making cold pasta, I always use angel hair. Due to its short boiling time, I find angel hair is not necessarily easy to get perfectly al dente in texture. But it is wonderful for the cold pasta. When rinsing the pasta with ice cold water after boiling, it will become beautifully al dente, and eating fine spaghetti noodles with pesto is very pleasing to all the senses.
One thing that I consider when making pesto pasta is that there are not many vegetables in the dish other than the herbs, if you don’t have any other side dishes. If for dinner, I will definitely make one or two side dishes. But for lunch, it is nice and easy to make a one plate meal. So, I like decorating the pasta with some other fresh or boiled/steamed vegetables or even fruits. This will allow us to eat a greater variety of ingredients in one dish, brightening up the color, and bringing a beautiful alchemy of the flavor.
This time, I was inspired to use the very seasonal fava beans we got at the farmers market and also blackberries we picked near our home. Very delicious to our taste buds as well as eyes!