Cilantro Pesto & My Summer Pasta Salad


If you read my previous post, you know that our summer in Seattle has been not so summery. So, I've been trying to put out positive summer vibes for the universe to give me some sunny hot days! And, of course, to really get that summer vibe going, especially sans sun, it helps to create and cook vibrant and fresh summery food!

When I think of summer, I think of barbecues, cookouts, and picnics! And when I think of these occasions, I think of burgers, hot dogs, and pasta salads. But, wait. You should really think twice before you breakout the recipe for Ol' Aunt Fannie's boring, replayed pasta salad. Don't you want to treat your family and friends to something different and unique? Well, I've got the perfect recipe for you.

I love cilantro. I reeeeally love cilantro. In fact, it's my favorite herb. I am not a fan of parsley. Not too fond of basil. Cilantro usually ends up being my substitution for most recipes calling for either one - like pesto!

This cilantro version is just as simple and packed with flavor  as its traditional cousin. And, as with basil pesto, it has many uses. In preparation for all the summer events ahead of me, I chose to test it out in a pasta salad. I paired the fresh cilantro pesto with some penne pasta, grilled chicken, hearts of palm, red pepper and queso fresco. I can tell you that this is certainly going to be a hit this summer!

If you get the chance to make this recipe, let me know how you used it. My mind is already spinning with a bunch of different recipes I can use it in!


Cilantro Pesto
©Food Samba

1 cup cilantro
1/4 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted
1 tsp garlic
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

In a food processor, combine cilantro, pine nuts, garlic, salt and pepper. Pulse until everything is well incorporated. With the processor running, slowly pour the olive oil into the bowl through the feed tube and process until the pesto is thoroughly pureed. Add the Parmesan and puree for a minute. Enjoy!


Garlic Shrimp and Mango Salsa Crostini

A couple of weeks ago, the lovely people from I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter! presented me with a wonderful opportunity. They invited me to participate in a food blogger competition that will crown the first ever I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter! Toast Ambassador! Never mind the all expense paid trip to New York City and the $5,000 cash prize the grand prize winner walks away with, what I’m really giddy about is being able to be crowned “Toast Ambassador”! Besides being awarded “Drama Queen” of my senior class in high school, I have never held a title. Do I have what it takes? Let's hope the judges think so! This blog post is my entry for the contest. Wish me luck!

Its summer in Seattle, but a quick glance outside would have you thinking we are still in April. I’m a summer baby and am dying for some hot weather. This gloomy weather has got me in a funk.  When I get like this, there is nothing better than to whip up something delicious and something that reminds me of my sultry Brazil.

This past week I have been trying to concoct the perfect recipe for the ICBINB! contest. A recipe that would get me out of this cold weather funk and transport me to the tropics. I knew I wanted to incorporate a fresh fruit in my recipe, since it was something I enjoyed daily as a kid. As you may have read in my Avocado Smoothie post a while back, my family’s back yard in Brazil was filled with fresh fruit trees. We had a bananeira (banana tree),  abacateiro (avocado tree), and a mangueira (mango tree). Most Brazilians are blessed to have these and other wonderful fruit trees just a stone’s throw away from their back door.

After a couple of days, I created a knock-out recipe: Garlic Shrimp and Mango Salsa Crostini! The recipe features crispy crostini toasts baked to golden perfection, topped with some fresh mango salsa, and individually crowned with glistening shrimp sautéed with ICBINB!, garlic and lime.
As I sat back on my couch and popped one after another in my mouth, I almost felt as if I was sitting under the mangueira enjoying a nice summer day. They definately did the work and got me out of my funk.

Garlic Shrimp and Mango Salsa Crostini

Makes 24
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes


¼ cup I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter!  Stick or Original Spread

24 slices (1/4 inch thick) French baguette

2 cloves of garlic, minced

24 medium fresh shrimp, peeled, deveined and tails removed

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon pepper

1 ½ teaspoon lime juice

1 mango, peeled and diced

¼ cup red bell peppers, diced

¼ cup green bell peppers, diced

3 tablespoon cilantro, finely chopped

1 teaspoon honey

For Crostini Toast:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Arrange bread slices in a single layer on the baking sheet.

Using about 1 tablespoon of I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter!, butter each slice of bread evenly.

Bake for 10 minutes, or until golden brown.

For Garlic Shrimp:

Wash shrimp with water and pat dry with a paper towel.

In a sauté pan, melt the remaining I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter over medium-high heat.

Add shrimp, garlic,  ¼ teaspoon salt, pepper and 1 teaspoon lime juice.

Sauté shrimp on both sides for about 3 minutes or until shrimp has turned pink and remove from heat.

For Mango Salsa:

In a small bowl, combine mango, peppers, cilantro, honey, and the remaining lime juice and salt. Gently stir until everything is well incorporated. Set aside.

To Assemble:

Arrange toast on a serving plate.

Top each toast with the mango salsa and place 1 shrimp on top of each.

*Cook's Note: You can make the mango salsa the day before and refrigerate until ready to use. While toast is baking, you can prepare the shrimp.

*Food Samba Disclosure: I was invited to participate in this contest and this blog post is a form of entry