Story last updated at 8/21/2013 - 3:43 pm
People ask me where I come up with my recipes. How do I know if something will taste good? These are great questions and easy to answer. I watch a lot of cooking shows on television. I watch for technique, ingredients and occasionally a recipe. I also enjoy reading cookbooks. I read them like novels, each recipe a culinary adventure. Much to my husband’s chagrin, I enjoy eating at restaurants. He is one of those fellows who will eat what’s put in front of him. I’m one of those folks who enjoy the whole dining experience from the menu, to the plating to the meal itself and most importantly, not having to wash the dishes. I know I’m not alone in this belief.
Finally, the most common way I come up with new recipes and ideas is from general conversation. For example, my co-worker Alex and I were chatting about pesto and the high cost of pine nuts and how expensive it has become to make pesto. I confessed that on many occasions because of the expense, I will buy pre-made pesto. I then commented that one of my friends had made a cilantro pesto years ago, which sounded good, but I had no idea what she put in it, other than cilantro. Hmmmm, what if I…?
The wheels were turning. I like cilantro. The bright, fresh taste is one of my favorites and I add it to just about anything from chili to curry. Therefore cilantro pesto sounded like a great idea.
This lead me back to the pine nuts are expensive conversation and I realized that this recipe would cost about $30 to make a cup of pesto. Not really a bargain food. After much thought and contemplation, I opted for pistachios. I rarely use them, and they are now much less expensive than pine nuts, especially if you get them at a large warehouse store.
I did a quick shopping trip for the main ingredients and hurried home. I was so excited to see if my experiment would work. Could I make a cilantro pesto that would rival a basil pesto? My friend Shonda stopped by at the most opportune moment. I had just finished the pesto and put it on some halibut and baked it. She became my official tester in Grant’s absence. I plated the fish and went to change clothes for our trip to the gym and when I returned I was greeted by a smiling friend and an empty plate. I was thrilled.
I try to share my cooking with my friends and colleagues as much as possible. More often than not Grant will eat every last bite, but on this occasion I had quite a bit of pesto left over. Because a co-worker in a roundabout way helped me come up with this recipe I felt it only fair that I share it at the office. I learned that it’s great on tortilla chips, fish as well as pasta. I would imagine it’s pretty great on chicken too. One colleague, Liz, said it should be called Awesome Sauce. That was a wonderful compliment.
I encourage everyone to get into the kitchen and play with ingredients. It’s ok to say “Hmmmm, what if I…?” Who knows what you’ll create. And, when you get that perfect recipe, definitely let me know.
This week I present a very easy to make and apparently multi-purpose sauce: Cilantro Pesto. For this recipe I used it to top baked halibut.
Until next time…
Eat and enjoy,
Kelly Moore, a.k.a. Midgi, writes and cooks from Juneau. Visit her blog, www.mealswithmidgi.com, for additional stories and recipes. She may be reached at midgi@
CILANTRO PESTO WITH HALIBUT
4 6 ounce halibut fillets
4 cups cilantro (tops, no stems)
½ cup roasted pistachios
½ cup fresh grated parmesan cheese
Juice of 1½ limes
1 teaspoon cumin (more if you like it)
2 teaspoons cracked black pepper
Salt to taste
½ cup olive oil
Using a food processor, grind the nuts and then add the cheese and cilantro. Blend well. Slowly drizzle in olive oil until you have a soft paste consistency. Add lime juice, pepper and cumin. Blend again until well incorporated. Add more olive oil until you get to the desired consistency.
Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees. Place halibut in shallow roasting pan and generously cover with pesto. Bake for 20 minute until fish is cooked thoroughly.