Cilantro Pesto Pasta & Smoky Tempeh

cilantro tempeh

Growing up, cilantro was a household staple. It was probably the only fresh herb we had in my home. I did not discover Basil, and other fresh herbs, until I was an adult. Cilantro, however, is a beloved herb in Latin households. Dried cilantro is a huge no-no. I will admit, I purchased dried cilantro, in a jar, once. That was the last time! The fresh, aromatic herb I adore so much was not its usual bright green, fragrant self.  So I can tell you now, if you were thinking of using dry cilantro for this recipe, I highly advise that you do not. Besides, you can get 1 bunch of cilantro for $1.00, sometimes $0.50! Dry cilantro is not so cheap.

This recipe was conceived on rainy, hungry afternoon. I knew I had 1 package of pasta in my pantry and I remember my cousin gave me some tempeh. I also knew I did not have basil but I wanted pesto! So, I open the refrigerator and, of course, there sat some cilantro, staring back at me, half gone. Then it dawned on me! I can make a cilantro pesto instead of a basil pesto! I did not have pine nuts (which is traditionally used in basil pesto) so I used hemp seeds (a little added protein in those!).

If you’ve never used tempeh before, fear not! It is easy to find and make, promise! You can e-mail me or comment below with questions. But you can find tempeh anywhere (not just Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods). At typical groceries stores, tempeh can be found in the produce section. That easy! As a small note, everyone should, seriously, have smoked paprika, which is an ingredient listed below). Herbivores, and Omnivores alike, will appreciate the spice. It will change the way you cook forever!

Cilantro Pesto Pasta Ingredients

  • 1 package of short pasta
  • 1 small handful of fresh Cilantro
  • 2 tbsp EVOO
  • 1 tbsp Nutritional Yeast
  • 2 tsp hemp seeds, optional
  • 1 Garlic Clove
  • ½ small onion (or about 2 tbsp diced)

Cilantro Pesto Pasta Instructions

  1. Cook the pasta, al dente, per package instructions. Don’t forget to salt the water!
  2. Save 1 cup of pasta water then drain and add back to the pot (fire off).
  3. Add the cilantro and all other remaining ingredients to a blender (or food processor).
  4. Combine the pesto and pasta.

Smoky Tempeh Ingredients

  • 1 package Tempeh, cubed
  • 2 tsp EVOO
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tbsp Oregano
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 cup water

Tip: Scroll to the bottom of this post on how to Cube Tempeh.

Smoky Tempeh Instructions

  1. Cube the tempeh, add to a bowl with all ingredients.
  2. In a medium pan, on low heat, add the olive oil and tempeh mixture (including the liquid marinade).
  3. Cover for 10 minutes, remove lid then allow to brown for 10 minutes, or so.
  4. Turn the tempeh then allow to brown for another 10 minutes, or so.

cilantro tempeh2

How to Cube Tempeh:

  1. Place the Tempeh plank horizontally on a cutting board. Now, cut in half (2 pieces in front of you.
  2. Cut each half in half (4 pieces in front of you) then cut each half in half again (8 pieces in front of you).
  3. Now slice the tempeh down the middle lengthwise (16 pieces) or make 2 cuts lengthwise – 1 on the top half and 1 on the bottom half (32 pieces).

Note: I suggest cutting into 16 pieces for this recipe.

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