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Author Notes: I adore cilantro chutney - that green sauce that just about every Indian restaurant will serve with samosas or papad. It is the completely balanced combination of herbal and tangy with a bit of heat that wins me over every time in this condiment. I love the flavor of this sauce so much I wanted to expand its uses and thought of developing it into a pesto that could work on pizza, pasta, and even all dressed up as an hors d'oeuvre on crostini. You can make it in less than 10 minutes in the food processor and it keeps a week in the fridge. Traditional Italian pesto uses pine nuts but I thought peanuts would work better with the Indian flavors here. I tried it with the addition of ginger and garlic and without - and preferred it without so the cilantro and mint really sing uninterrupted. The addition of the tangy spice blend, chaat masala, adds a depth of dimension to the dish. you can find chaat masala at Indian markets or even online.
I tossed the pesto with some fusili pasta, shredded roast chicken, roasted red bell pepper and red onion for a simple dish that is packed with flavor. —Shveta Berry
- 1/4 cup roasted salted peanuts
- 1 bunch cilantro
- 1 cup fresh mint leaves
- 3 scallions, roughly chopped
- 1 serrano chili, cut into fourths
- 1 tablespoon chaat masala
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 lemon, juiced
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest (from a whole lemon)
- 1 pound pasta - I like fusili
- 2 cups cooked, chicken cut into bite size peices
- 2 red bell pepper, cut into 1 inch peices
- 1 red onion, cut into 1 inch peices
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Combine all the ingredients for the pesto in the bowl of your food processor, except the oil and pulse until all is uniformly chopped. Scrape down the sides with a spatula a few times to make sure nothing is missed.
- With the machine running slowly add the oil in a thin stream.
- Taste the pesto and add more salt or fresh lemon juice as needed.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Toss the bell pepper and red onion with the 1 tbl of olive oil.
- On a parchment lined cookie sheet, spread the bell pepper and onion in a single layer.
- Roast in the oven for 15-20 minutes until tender.
- Cook the pasta as per the instructions on the box. Before draining, reserve a half cup of pasta water.
- Put the pasta back in the pot and add the pesto, past water, chicken, and roasted veggies.