It is all about the cilantro pesto when making cilantro pasta! This easy dinner is 3 ingredients, has loads of flavor, and takes 20 minutes!
Everything is easier with good-quality ingredients- all you have to do is showcase their natural flavors that coat each pasta noodle.
It starts with the best cilantro pesto sauce
Cilantro pasta is all about fresh herbs from fresh homemade pesto sauce! Pesto doesn’t have to made with just basil leaves and fresh greens. Here we take our fabulous cilantro basil pesto recipe and simply mix it with pasta noodles for a fragrant gourmet meal that is comfort food at its best!
This cilantro pesto is loaded with garlic and coriander flavor and hints of fragrant basil. Once mixed with cooked pasta noodles finish it off with a sprinkle of salt to bring the flavors together!
Enjoying cilantro pasta is a wonderful way to get loads of greens and antioxidants into your day without eating a massive bowl of just vegetables!
This cilantro basil pasta has only three basic ingredients:
- Cilantro basil pesto – it is a lovely combination of fresh cilantro leaves and Italian basil leaves (also feel free to try our kale and basil pesto over pasta as well!)
- Gluten-free noodles – we recommend using a noodle that is hollow such as penne or has curves like fusilli noodles which hold in the sauce and makes every bite extra tasty!
- Fresh or frozen broccoli florets – If using fresh broccoli look for vibrant color and tightly closed florets with no yellowing or browning
- Salt and pepper to taste and crushed red pepper flakes for garnish
How to make basil and cilantro pasta
Make the cilantro sauce: Make the cilantro basil pesto either a few days earlier or as you are making this recipe. Add the ingredients to a blender and pulse until smooth. Print the cilantro basil pesto recipe here.
Steam or thaw the broccoli: This can be done while the noodles are cooking in the next step. Steam raw broccoli or let frozen broccoli florets thaw and remove any extra water.
Cook the pasta shells: In a medium saucepan boil water with a sprinkle of salt and add the noodles. Cook about 7-10 minutes or according to the noodle package directions (until al dente). Reserve ½ cup of the water then drain the noodles and rinse with cool water to prevent the noodles from continuing to cook.
Mix together the cilantro basil pesto pasta: Return the noodles back to saucepan with the heat off. Add the cilantro pesto, reserved water, and broccoli and mix together to coat. Season with salt to desired taste.
Tips: When working with gluten-free pasta noodles make sure to cook until al dente and not to overcook the noodles. Overcooked noodles can fall apart and become mushy.
We add broccoli to our basil and cilantro pasta but you can also add cooked chicken, rotisserie chicken pieces, cooked steak, shrimp, fresh grape tomatoes cut in half, shelled edamame, zucchini, cremini mushrooms, red bell peppers or any other favorite vegetables.
How to reheat pasta
Since this cilantro pasta has lots of pesto oil in it it stays moist. But if it does seem dry add about 1 tablespoon of water and mix it before reheating. It can be reheated in a microwave until warm or on the stovetop on low heat until warmed through. Try not to overheat or cook gluten-free noodles because they can become mushy.
Frequently Asked Questions
Cilantro can be used in place of parsley as a garnish in some pasta recipes. It is most commonly used in Thai and Mexican dishes, and is often turned into pesto as a solo herb or mixed with basil and served in pasta recipes.
Only add salt to boiling hot water to cook noodles. Never use oil as it will prevent sauces from sticking to the noodles.
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Cilantro Pasta Recipe
- 1 cup Cilantro Basil Pesto See notes below for recipe
- 8 ounces gluten-free penne pasta
- 4 cups frozen broccoli florets thawed and water drained or fresh steamed broccoli florets
- salt and pepper to taste
- crushed chili pepper flakes optional garnish
- In a food processor pulse together the cilantro basil pesto ingredients until smooth. Set aside until ready to use.
- Next steam or thaw the broccoli. This can be done while the noodles are cooking in the next step. Steam raw broccoli using a steam basket in a pot of 1 inch boiling water for about 6 minutes or let frozen broccoli florets thaw in the refrigerator or microwave and remove any extra water.
- In a medium saucepan boil water and add the noodles and a sprinkle of salt. Cook about 7-10 minutes or according to the noodle package directions (until al dente). Reserve ½ cup of the water then drain the noodles and rinse with cool water to prevent the noodles from continuing to cook.
- Return the noodles back to saucepan with the heat off. Add the cilantro pesto, reserved water, and broccoli and mix together to coat. Season with salt to desired taste.
- 1 cup fresh cilantro leaves large stems removed, about 1 bunch
- ¾ cup fresh basil leaves – large stems removed
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ cup walnuts or slivered almonds
- ¼ cup Parmesan cheese – shredded, or for a vegan version substitute it for another ¼ nuts
- 2 garlic cloves peeled
- 1 lemon or lime – juice of, or about 2 tablespoons
- ½ teaspoon pink salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
Using a food processor, add the cilantro, basil, olive oil, nuts, cheese, garlic, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Blend until it becomes almost smooth. Taste it and if it is slightly bitter add a bit more salt to taste. See notes below on adjusting the taste. This pesto will last 1 week in the refrigerator in a sealed container or jar.