Skip Sub-navigation

Kripalu Healthy Living Recipes

Deb Morgan: I recently sampled a friend’s fresh basil-flaxseed pesto, which she served with her homemade fish cakes. Though the traditional recipe for pesto includes basil, pine nuts, garlic, olive oil, salt, and parmesan cheese, Patricia used fresh basil, flaxseeds, garlic, salt, and olive oil. It was divine! The dish had a lightness and freshness to it, while still making a strong, definitive statement. Patricia’s version of pesto got me thinking of all the other combinations of nuts, seeds, and greens that could be put together to make pesto with personality.

Spicy Cilantro Pesto

Makes 1½ cups.

2 cups fresh cilantro (leaves and stems)
¼ cup toasted pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
½ cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
½ teaspoon sea salt
Pinch of chili flakes
¼ cup parmesan cheese (optional)

Combine all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until the mixture is finely pureed. Serve over rice, pasta, vegetables, or with your favorite protein (tofu, white beans, chicken, fish, or shrimp).

Read Annie Kay’s Nutritional Commentary: Cilantro, Queen of Detox.

The oils in cilantro have powerful antimicrobial benefits. Add in its antioxidant profile, and cilantro is a detoxification superfood. It’s known to have remarkable attributes for treating heavy-metal toxicity: Animal research has shown that cilantro contains molecules that prevent the deposition of lead and mercury in tissues. According to Ayurveda, fresh cilantro is also especially good for cooling down pitta in the digestive track, as well as topically for hot, itchy skin issues.