Serving Larchmont Village, Hancock Park, and the Greater Wilshire neighborhoods of Los Angeles since 2011.

Cilantro Lime Pesto Pasta Salad with Pistachios and Tomatoes

Extra cilantro was the inspiration for this Cilantro Lime Pesto Salad with Pistachios and Tomatoes (photos from Deborah Brooks)


Do you ever pick up food items at the farmers’ market just in case you don’t have any and get home and realize that you actually have too much already in the vegetable drawer? Yup. That happens a lot with me, especially fresh herbs that I always want on hand.

In a perfect world I would take the time to know everything I have lurking in my fridge. All foods would be labeled and dated and packed in neat little jars and containers and look picture perfect ready for a magazine photo shoot. Maybe I’d even write a book. Oh, wait that’s been done. And I didn’t buy it. Why? Because I know me! My fridge would look neat and organized once, I’d take a picture and post it on social media… and then slowly but surely go back to my tried and true system of hunting and gathering amid the chaos and aha! I do have cilantro! Two bunches that need to get eaten.

Because I am cooking so much now, sometimes my recipes are created from what I need to use up. I believe that that’s a much more useful cooking tool than being a stickler for organization. Being able to develop recipes from what I have on hand and need used up immediately has been the creation of some yummy eats, including this recipe.

And yes, I did buy a bunch of cilantro last week; not realizing I already had 2 bunches in the veggie drawer. But damn, I’m glad I did as this cilantro/lime/pistachio pesto was created from that abundance. It may now be my favorite pesto. And that’s saying a lot about someone who obsesses over basil.

Of course, I apologize to those of you with the “cilantro tastes like soap” gene. I get it. Tarragon is like that for me.


The cilantro taste gets toned down mixed with the other ingredients, including fresh spinach, which gives it a rich green color.


For those of you who love cilantro, do try this version. The cilantro taste gets toned down mixed with the other ingredients, including fresh spinach, which gives it a rich green color. I used a few drops 1867 Hand Crafted Pepper Sauce, from Underwood Family Farms, which is similar to green Tabasco but better, in place of fresh ground pepper. It’s available at the Sunday Larchmont Farmers Market. Either works.

Please note that tossing pesto with hot pasta somewhat cooks the pesto and changes the bright green color to a more olive tone. Rinse the pasta with cold water to stop the cooking process and then let it drain for 15 minutes so that the pasta salad isn’t watery. Of course, it you want to serve this warm then toss it with hot pasta. Cook’s choice!


Cilantro Lime Pesto Pasta Salad with Pistachios and Tomatoes

2 cloves garlic rough chopped
1 ½ packed cups cilantro leaves, (pack the leaves down)
½ pack cup baby spinach leaves, (pack the leaves down)
½ cup toasted unsalted pistachios, divided (recipe to toast follows)
Juice of 2 small limes, about 2 Tablespoons
½ tsp kosher salt
A few drops of 1867 or similar green hot sauce
½ cup buttery not peppery extra virgin olive oil to avoid creating a bitter pesto
½ cup grated vegan Parmesan

17.6 oz package rottelle pasta
2/3 pint of cherry tomatoes cut in half
2 T fresh chopped cilantro

In the bowl of a food processor, add the garlic, cilantro leaves, spinach leaves, ¼ cup of the roasted pistachios and lime juice. Process until the garlic, leaves and nuts are broken down and incorporated, scraping down the sides. Add the salt and hot sauce and process another 10 seconds, again scraping down the sides. With the motor running, slowly drizzle in the EVOO. Again scrape down the sides. Add the cheese and process to incorporate. The pesto should be smooth with a bit of texture. Set aside to cook the pasta.

Cook the pasta al dente, drain, rinse with cold water and let drain again so it’s not water logged. In a very large mixing bowl toss the pasta with the pesto until all noodles are well coated. Add the tomatoes, chopped cilantro and other ¼ cup toasted pistachios and toss to incorporate. Transfer to a serving bowl. Serve as a meal with salad and bread or as a side dish.

If you want to make the pesto a day or two ahead, let it come to room temperature before tossing with the pasta.


Toasted Pistachios:

Toast the pistachios on a metal sheet pan in a preheated oven set at 375 degrees for 6-8 minutes, tossing halfway. Be careful not to burn them.


Ingredients: Pistachios from Arnett Farmers, cilantro and limes from the Larchmont Farmers Market.


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Deborah Brooks
Deborah Brooks
Deborah is currently a documentary film producer. She is also a former certified personal trainer and fitness nutrition coach. The shutdown of business due to Covid-19 and the implication of an animal wet market connection caused her to rethink her high animal protein food lifestyle. She has spent the last year exploring the world of plant based eating for her own health as well as the health of the planet and all of its sentient beings. Her recipes can be found on Instagram. She would love you to follow along on her journey.

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    • Sorry about that – EVOO is extra virgin olive oil, which we’ve now clarified in the ingredient list. The recommended cheese is vegan Parmesean, which is also in the ingredient list.


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