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Savannah Family Photographer | What’s Cooking…Jalapeno “Pesto”

Recipe adapted from Rachael Ray’s Jalapeno Chermoula Penne and Flaked Fish.


This recipe is one of my “go to” make ahead and freeze favorites! It’s super fresh, easy to throw together, freezes well, thaws quickly, and can be paired with lots of great meat/pasta combinations. For this post I made 3 batches to freeze and 1 to keep out for dinner tonight in less than 30 minutes. There are many ways to adapt this recipe to fit your needs, if you don’t do spicy leave the jalapenos out, if you want to make it a true pesto add nuts, I even freeze individual serving sizes in an ice cube tray so my son can eat the “same” thing we do without serving him the spicy version.


Ingredients

  • basil (2 large containers)
  • cilantro (1 bunch)
  • mint (2 small containers)
  • limes (4)
  • shallots (3)
  • garlic (3 cloves)
  • jalapenos (7)
  • olive oil (17 oz. bottle)

ingredients for jalapeno pesto


Before starting the recipe let me take a minute to brag about my blender/food processor, which you can purchase on Amazon by clicking here. I’ve owned an older version of the Ninja Blender/food processor for almost 10 years and just last week decided to replace it. The one I replaced wasn’t broken, the motor and the blades (which I’ve never had to sharpen) still worked but the plastic on the larger blender was on it’s last leg (from 10 years of dishwasher abuse). I’ve never owned any other brand of blender or food processor but I have NO reason to consider switching brands, especially if this one lasts another 10 years!! Ok…now for the recipe!

Ninja Food Processor with accessories


I try to stay organized when I cook, which starts with gathering everything I need before I start cutting and prepping. If I’m having a REALLY organized and efficient day I also start with an empty dishwasher so I can load things as I go and not have to do it when I’m done cooking and/or eating. It’s a good trick when I do it but sometimes just piling everything on the counter and dealing with it later wins out.


The items I use for this recipe are…

  • ingredients
  • blender/food processor
  • 4 – 1 quart freezer bags
  • 2 – 16 oz. plastic cups (not pictured)
  • cutting board
  • towel (for placing under cutting board to prevent the board from slipping)
  • knife
  • spoon

ingredients and tools for making jalapeño pesto


When I make 4 batches of this recipe I divide the ingredients into 2 blender/food processor shifts. I start by pouring half of the olive oil into the blender. Then I cut and juice all the limes, cut all the shallots, pick the mint and basil leaves off the stems, tear the cilantro bunch, and smash the garlic cloves (full disclosure: I forgot to buy garlic cloves so I cheated and used some pre-minced garlic from the fridge). The final ingredients I cut up are the jalapenos. I cut the tops off, slice them in half, then use a spoon to carve out the seeds.

pouring olive oil in a blender and juicing limes

chopping shallots and herbs off of stems

seeding jalapeños with a spoon

Don’t forget to WASH YOUR HANDS after handling the jalapenos!!

hands being washed under running water


Once I’ve prepped all the ingredients I place half of everything into the blender and pulse until everything comes together.

blending the jalapeño pesto

The next step is labeling/dating your bags and pouring the “pesto” into them. I use the 16 oz. cups to help make this process easy and neat.

labeled plastic bagspouring jalapeno pesto into freezer bagsThis is also the point where, if I’ve made a non-jalapeno batch, I will pour a little into an ice cube tray. Once these freeze I pop them out of the tray and into a freezer zipper bag for storage.

Next, repeat the process with the 2nd batch of ingredients. When you’ve finished zip the bags closed, making sure to get as much air out as possible, and lay them flat in the freezer to freeze.

ice cube tray for non spicy and bags of spicy jalapeno pesto

That’s it!! You’ve made 4 batches of sauce to go over pasta with fish, shrimp, chicken, etc. When you’re ready to use the sauce simply grab it out of the freezer and let it thaw out in the refrigerator. I set it out on the counter about 30 minutes before I start cooking so it’s closer to room temperature when the meat and pasta finish cooking. After I drain my pasta I put the pasta back into the pot and pour the sauce directly from the freezer bag onto the pasta. If I’m feeding my little one I’ll pull some noodles off to the side and either put a pesto cube (which I thaw the same way) or some butter over.

shrimp penne with jalapeno pesto

Looking for more easy weeknight dinner ideas?

“What’s Cooking – Beef and Broccoli with Rice” 

“What’s Cooking – Sheet Pan Chicken”

“What’s Cooking – Baked Burritos”

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meet the photographer jaden

Working on my dream and meeting special families along the way, I believe everyone deserves amazing photographs which capture the moments in life that bring them joy. I photograph families, like yours, who wish they could freeze time, even for just a second, and always remember the special moments of life.

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