cilantro pesto with zucchini noodles – perfect for St. Patrick’s Day

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I made this for dinner tonight and it knocked my socks off!  It was a cinch to prep, it’s gluten-free and would be a perfect addition to your St. Patrick’s Day feast, being green and all.

In order to get this posted so you all have plenty of time to gather your ingredients, I am posting this while pretty close to a long-day-after-dinner coma.  Please forgive me for any misspellings and poor sentence structure that may result.  (Not that poor grammar doesn’t happen any other time.  Nope, not here.)

Here’s what you need for the pesto:

  • 2 bunches of fresh cilantro
  • 6-8 medium size cloves of garlic
  • 2 Tbsp. rice vinegar
  • 1/2 c. grated Parmesan
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1 c. pecan halves
  • 3/4 c. sunflower or olive oil
  • salt to taste (I used Celtic sea salt)

For the “noodles”:

  • 4 zucchini squash and a pinch of salt

Here’s what you do:

Wash and slice your zucchini.  You can do this with a knife, making thin slivers or you can track down  a Veggetti spiral vegetable slicer, or something similar.

the Veggetti in action
the Veggetti in action

I went the Veggetti route because, a) I have one and b) I like the long “noodles” it creates.  I also like typing “noodles”.  I like anything that I can use quotation marks.  Don’t even get me started on how much I love doing cheesy air quotes with my fingers.  We’ll be here all day!

zucchini "noodles"
zucchini “noodles”

Stick with me.  After your zucchini is transformed into long strips, place them in a strainer over a bowl and toss them with a pinch of salt.  This helps to remove some of the water so the dish isn’t watery.  Make sense?  Gooood!

Now, on to the pesto!

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In a food processor (or blender) add all ingredients and process until smooth.  You may have to play with the vinegar and oil amounts depending on how much cilantro you are using (a bunch isn’t a standard unit of measure.  Neither is “a whole mess” of something, but it should be.  It paints a clear picture.)

I think the food coma is getting the best of me.

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Once your pesto is processed, heat a tablespoon of oil in a non-stick skillet.  Throw in the “noodles” (there are those lovely quotes again.  In my head, they are air quotes since in my head, I’m talking to you all.)  Gently heat over medium heat for just a couple of minutes then add the pesto and stir to coat all the zucchini…”noodles”. (I can’t help myself.)

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When you begin to smell the garlic, remove from heat and transfer into a bowl to stop the cooking process.  You only want to warm the pesto and still have some crunch to the “noodles”.

A note on the lovely cilantro pesto. Cilantro has been linked to being a detoxifier of heavy metals.  Not only is it nutritious and delicious, but it’s a hard-working chelator!

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Happy clean eating!

(This recipe makes 6-8 servings depending on how many ravenous teen-aged beasts you are feeding.)

That’s all folks!

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