Last weekend, my sister-in-law Lauren told me that her mom had been reading up on the health benefits of coconut oil and was now using it in a lot of her recipes. I had never heard of the stuff—aside from coconut based skin care products—and was eager to try it. I also needed another topic to write about for RootSpeak and this seemed like it might be just the thing.
When I was at Whole Foods earlier this week, I bought a jar of coconut oil. That’s right: a jar. In non-tropical climates, coconut oil is sold in solid form. It kind of looks like marshmallow fluff, but once you microwave it or warm it in a frying pan, it liquifies almost immediately. To read more about why coconut oil is good for you, click here to read my RootSpeak article.
But health benefits aside, I needed to know if you could really cook with the stuff and more importantly, if it would hold up as a substitute in some of my favorite recipes. Tropical Traditions, a manufacturer of coconut products, has tons of recipes on their site. When I came across one for cilantro coconut pesto, I decided to put it to the test.
I started with the ingredients and quantities they suggested, but quickly needed to make some changes. The pesto was too watery for my taste and contrary to the recipe author’s claim that the pesto didn’t need salt, it totally did. The only new ingredient I added (besides salt and pepper) was freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese. I love the consistency and slight sharpness that cheese adds to pesto. Into my food processor I combined:
6 tablespoons coconut oil
2 cups of packed cilantro leaves
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 ¼ cups walnuts
1 large clove of garlic
2 tablespoons freshly grated Romano cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
I melted the coconut oil in the microwave for about 30 seconds. I boiled some farfalle and then mixed the pesto with the pasta. I was pleasantly surprised at the taste! The coconut gave it a mild sweetness and melded nicely with the cilantro flavoring. It’s definitely different than your traditional basil pesto, but in a good way.
I am anxious to try coconut oil in other recipes. Perhaps in baking? Hmmm…