Winter’s Top-Secret Summer Warm Ravioli Salad with Cilantro Pesto

cilantro illustration

Cilantro. Creative Commons image. Credit: Dana Scott.

Basil and tomatoes grow particularly well in Colorado Front Range gardens during the summer, allowing for homemade pesto to flow like milk and honey in my kitchen. Unfortunately, in the dead of winter, if I want this reminder of warmer, sunnier days, I’m forced to throw down some serious cash for a few small containers of imported basil.

Rather than forego the deliciousness that is pesto, I tried out yet another pesto recipe (you’ll find my other recipes here, here, and here) that uses stems and leaves of the humble cilantro plant to bring together a pesto I’ll be making even during the dog days of summer.

Not only was this pesto the vivid green I love, it contained the more affordable pepitas (raw, green pumpkin seeds) and a leftover chunk of Romano cheese that had been lurking in the fridge. Purée with full-bodied extra-virgin olive oil, and you have yourself a decent amount of pesto to use not only in today’s warm ravioli salad recipe but on all sorts of other savory foods.

Cameron and I dollop leftover pesto on our scrambled eggs, slathered it on toasted whole-grain bread, and even mixed it with chickpeas and black beans. Pesto’s not just for pasta, but as you’ll learn once you make the ravioli salad below, there’s a reason you shouldn’t completely forsake pasta.

Warm Ravioli Salad with Cilantro Pesto

Image by author.

Warm Ravioli Salad with Cilantro Pesto
(a Super Natural Every Day recipe)
Serves 4 as a main dish

Ingredients
– 1/3 cup toasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds)*
– 1 cup lightly packed cilantro leaves and stems
– 1/3 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
– 3 cloves of garlic, peeled
– 2 TBS fresh lemon juice
– 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
– fine grain sea salt
– 16 oz fresh or frozen ravioli (My favorite are butternut squash or pumpkin ravioli or agnolotti.)
– 1/2 cup oil-cured black olives, pitted and roughly chopped or torn

Directions
*I place the raw pumpkin seeds (pepitas) in a dry skillet to toast over medium-low heat. Shake them around, watch them carefully – after a few minutes they will just start to brown and become fragrant. Take them off the heat right then!

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil, and cook ravioli. This usually only takes a few minutes – when they float to the top, they are done.

2. As the pasta cooks, get on with the pesto. Combine most of the pepitas, cilantro, Parmesan cheese, garlic, lemon juice, and a bit of the olive oil in a blender. Puree until smooth, drizzling in the remaining olive oil as you go. Taste and add salt if needed.

Cilantro Pepitas Pesto

Image by author.

3. When the ravioli are done, drain and toss with a generous spoonful of the pesto while it is still warm. Allow this to soak in for a few minutes, then add an additional 1/2 cup of pesto and almost all of the olives. Toss gently, and then decide if you want to add more pesto. (You should have plenty of pesto left over for other meals.)

4. Put in serving dish, then sprinkle remaining olives and pumpkin seeds on top, and any garnish. Serve warm or at room temperature. Easy and elegant.

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8 thoughts on “Winter’s Top-Secret Summer Warm Ravioli Salad with Cilantro Pesto

  1. That’s a new one for me, with pumpkin seeds. Sounds tasty! We adore basil pesto too, but even if I do buy some in winter it just doesn’t taste of much… I shall start sowing my own basil early this spring and put it on a warm windowsill indoors!

  2. I’ve had cilantro pesto–and like it–but pumpkin seeds are a new wrinkle (we use walnuts as the alternative). Very satisfying to have a tub of something like this in the fridge instead of an $8.99 container of that you bought at the store.

    Ken

    • Seriously. Store-bought pesto puts a strain on the wallet. I really liked how the roasted pepitas and cilantro tasted together, and it’s a bit more cost effective than pine nuts.

  3. Once upon a time I loved basil pesto – but then I ate so much of it, that I just couldn’t face another spoonfull. So many dishes that I have not made since – so cannot wait to try this twist on the original.

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