Lime Basil and Cilantro Pesto

Lime basil sprouts from seeds from last spring’s planting.

Lime basil (Ocimum americanum) is a variety of basil that has subtle notes of lime in the background. Like other basils, it grows easily in the garden or in a pot. The leaves are smaller than the sweet Italian variety and the flowers are white. I like to grow a lot of this herb so that I have plenty on hand for pesto, salads, spring rolls and sauces. If you like the idea of adding lime notes to a dish, lime basil is a good option.

My pesto recipe also includes lemongrass and kaffir lime leaf, which give it more citrus notes. These ingredients can be omitted if they are not readily available. The pesto is going to taste good one way or the other.

Note also that the quantities shown below are not intended to be hard and fast. Vary them according to your own taste. That’s part of the secret to learning to cook well and to create food that you like.

Pair this pesto with grilled pineapple. Repeat after me. Pair this pesto with grilled pineapple. If you have not tried this before, you are missing a real treat. Even if you omit the cilantro and double the lime basil, it is still a great partner for grilled pineapple. In fact, just about any pesto using a basil and the other usual pesto ingredients (Parmiggiano, garlic, pine nuts) is going to work. Although grilled pineapple is mellower and sweeter than the raw form, it still has plenty of strength to counter the strength of the pesto. This dish doesn’t require much skill to execute and it’s got a big payout.

Lime basil: 2 cups loosely packed
Cilantro: 2 cups loosely packed
Lemongrass: white portion of stalk minced — 1 tbsp
Kaffir lime: 1 to 2 leaves roughly chopped
Extra virgin olive oil: 1/2 cup
Pine nuts: 3 tbsp
Parmiggiano reggiano: 1/2 cup
Garlic: 3 cloves roughly chopped
Pepper to taste
Salt to taste

Add a touch of lime juice to help brighten the pesto.
Omit cilantro and use regular basil or more lime basil.

Roast the pine nuts just before use. I usually heat them on a flat pan until they sweat and turn golden brown. Don’t burn them or they will add a bitterness to the pesto.

Combine the ingredients in a food processor and blend them to a consistency that looks good to you. Be sure to taste the pesto and make adjustments as needed. For instance, if the pesto tastes flat, try adding some lime juice or maybe some salt or pepper.

Comments are closed.