Transform simple dinner recipes to flavor-packed delightful meals with rich, vibrant colors from cilantro. This spicy jalapeno pesto sauce is a vegan, low-carb, and dairy-free recipe.
Like the classical version, this spicy sauce is great to toss over grilled chicken, pasta, shrimp, and pizza. And this list never ends. And to mention especially, Jalapeno pesto pasta and the aioli are bliss, in my humble opinion.
Allow me to shout a little about the simplicity and the minimalism of this cilantro jalapeno pesto recipe. This recipe requires a few easy-to-find ingredients; surprisingly, some of you might already have stock in the kitchen.
We fall in with jalapeno peppers and use them as the delightful heat source for most of the recipe. And this spicy pesto is our recent find.
Feeling that you are missing some ingredients? no worries, we will discuss all the substitution opportunities in detail below.
How hot is this jalapeno pesto?
This vegan sauce is moderately hot but can potentially convert to a mild version or with more heat. the jalapeno seeds decide the heat in this pesto sauce. Remove the seeds altogether for the mild heat. And leave some of the seeds if you prefer hot. And use entire seeds for a flaming hot(the same rule applies to all the chili pepper recipes, including this jalapeno cilantro sauce).
I prefer spicy food but never used the jalapeno as a whole. So, it is always a good idea to proceed cautiously when handling hot peppers.
The key ingredients and possible substitutions
Cilantro. Do you feel the cilantro's flavor will be overpowering? not at all. All of it brings a bright aroma and color. I know some of you might feel intimidated by the cilantro. The good news is that you can swap with fresh basil leaves, which also bring authentic Italian flavors.
Jalapeno. These peppers are rich in vitamins A, C, and potassium. The heat of the jalapeno is never guessable. Sometimes it's super hot and other times it turns out plain. Many factors decide the heat of the jalapeno. We do not want to go deeper into this topic now. We only wanted to ensure it was at the right temperature for our pesto.
So, decide the number of seeds you plan to leave on while coring the pepper. If you have roasted jalapeno stored already, feel free to use it.
Pine nuts. Pine nuts give extraordinary body to the pesto, by keeping it thick and flowy. This property makes them easily coat well with other ingredients. this creates an unbelievably great dip or jalapeno pesto pasta. Whole almond seeds or almond slivers are also excellent alternatives.
Garlic. A flavor and taste enhancer. A little does all the wonders; I strongly suggest using fresh garlic cloves. However, garlic granules are the next option if you want to use your pantry staple ingredient.
Extra virgin olive oil. Why? because it's creamy and nutty. The main ingredient to call this recipe is pesto; I do not have any other replacements. If you have anything in mind, share it in the comment box.
Ground black pepper. Added for extra punch. It is an optional ingredient; you may skip using this.
How to make?
The process of making jalapeno pesto sauce is quick and straightforward, with no cheese.
Prepping. Half the jalapeno and core the seeds and pith. Remove the seeds and the white membrane completely for mild sauce. And finally, add the entire jalapeno for a fiery sauce.
I highly advise you to start from the least; while chopping, it's a good idea to reserve some seeds; you can add them later.
Remove the stiff stems of the cilantro and rinse thoroughly.
Blend. Add all the ingredients to the food processor and pulse until all the ingredients are combined. It is good to have visible bits of nuts; this gives a great texture to the pesto.
Serve. Serve as a dip, toss them in pasta, or drizzle over pizza.
Best ideas for enjoying the sauce
Dip. This can be a stand-alone dip. But if you prefer to be more velvety and dense. You can make jalapeno pesto aioli by adding a cup of mayo to the sauce.
Pasta. Our favorite one. Toss the hot jalapeno pesto into cooked pasta. For extra indulgence, top it with shredded parmesan cheese.
Pizza. Turn up the heat of the pizza by drizzling it over it.
Chicken. Baked, grilled, fried chicken works well, like this Cedar plank chicken or cedar plank salmon. For plating, place the chicken over a plate and top with a blob of the spicy pesto. You may also sprinkle scallion for extra depth.
Pork chops. The same way as chicken, place a dollop of pesto over the pork chop and drizzle olive oil.
Storing and make-ahead tips
Spicy jalapeno pesto is an amazing freezer-friendly recipe. It can be made 3 days earlier.
Refrigerating. Refrigerate to use within 3 days. Always store in an air-sealed container for the best results.
Freezing. Suitable to use for up to 3 months. Ziplock bags are convenient for freezing, as it occupies less space.
To thaw. Allow them on the kitchen counter for 30 minutes. If it is still chilled, microwave for 10 seconds, stir, and repeat if necessary.
Other Jalapeno recipes you may like,
Printable recipe card
Jalapeno pesto sauce
- 1 jalapeno
- ½ cup pine nuts
- 1 cup cilantro
- 1 clove garlic
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- ½ teaspoon black pepper ground
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- In the food processor, jalapeno, pine seeds, cilantro, garlic, and salt.
- Then run the machine and add the olive oil slowly.
- Blend until olive oil blends and incorporates well with other ingredients.
- Transfer to the container, and enjoy the sauce with pasta or grilled chicken.
Recommended tools for making this recipe
Food processor. The magic machine that blends your jalapenos, garlic, nuts, and oil into a velvety pesto.
Silicon spatula: Scrape every bit of your jalapeno pesto out of the food processor with this handy tool.
Glass jar. A quaint jar to store your fresh, zingy pesto.