Mexican-Style Pesto

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  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 35 min
  • Prep: 10 min
  • Inactive: 10 min
  • Cook: 15 min
  • Yield: 4 servings
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3 Fresno chile peppers

1/4 cup pistachio nuts or sliced almonds

1 cup fresh cilantro leaves or fresh flat-leaf parsley, packed

1 cup arugula or other spicy greens, packed

A couple sprigs fresh marjoram or oregano, leaves picked

2 cloves garlic, grated or finely chopped

1 teaspoon ground cumin, 1/3 palmful

Juice of 1 lime

About 1/3 cup Parmigiano and Herb-Fortified Stock, recipe follows

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

About 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 pound rice flour pasta, whole grain or whole wheat spaghetti

Grated Manchego cheese, for garnish

Parmigiano and Herb-Fortified Stock:

1 large rind trimmed from a hunk of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, or a few small pieces of saved-up rind

Herb bundle of several sprigs each of fresh thyme, parsley and rosemary, tied

1 onion, quartered

2 ribs celery, sliced on angle

2 carrots, sliced on angle

Peeled rind of 1 lemon

2 fresh bay leaves

4 cups chicken stock

12 cups (3 quarts) water


  1. Char and blister the chile peppers by placing over a burner, an open flame or under a broiler, and turning until black. Place the charred peppers in a small bowl and cover until cool enough to handle. Peel and seed the peppers and add them to a food processor. Meanwhile, lightly toast the nuts and add to the processor bowl. Add the cilantro, spicy greens, marjoram, garlic, cumin, lime juice, a splash of stock, salt and pepper, and then pour in about 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil and pulse the processor to form the pesto sauce. Place in a container, cover, and store in the refrigerator for a make-ahead meal. 
  2. To serve, place the pesto in the bottom of a large serving bowl. Heat a large pot of water to a boil for the pasta, salt the water, and cook the pasta to al dente. Just before draining, add a ladle of starchy cooking water to the pesto, drain the pasta and add the hot pasta to the serving bowl and toss 1 to 2 minutes. Serve immediately with grated Manchego on top.;

Parmigiano and Herb-Fortified Stock:

Yield: 1 gallon (16 cups)
  1. To make stock: Place the cheese rind, herb bundle, onion, celery, carrots, lemon rind, bay leaves, chicken stock, and water into a pot and bring to a bubble, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Simmer at least 1 hour, and then remove the rind, herb bundle, and vegetables with a slotted spoon or strainer.