Lemongrass Pesto


Because I grew lemongrass in my garden this year, I’ve been focusing on using it as much as possible in Thai as well as non-Thai dishes. This lemongrass seems mild to me, but it has a lemony flavor, and I’m determined to use it all up.

Last night I dreamed about using lemongrass to make a pesto. (I can’t be the only person who gets foodie inspirations while sleeeping!) Of course, I’m using the term pesto in the loosest way. It contains nuts and herbs, but I changed things up a bit.

To keep with the Asian theme by including lemongrass, I also used ginger and garlic. Then, I used basil, cilantro and chile peppers*. The nuts? Pine nuts. They’re used in Asian cuisines, so I’m still keeping with the theme!
If I did invent this stuff, I can die happy. And I can honestly say I’ve never seen anything similar on blogs or in cookbooks. But it is so good I plan on making a lot of it and sharing.

If I had any reservations about this pesto, it was that the ginger, being raw, might taste too strong. But fortunately, it didn’t.

The resulting pesto-looking mixture was fabulous on this butternut squash soup – almost like how a gremolata perks things up a bit. But the pesto would be great smeared on chicken breasts, pork, even fish. The possibilities for using it are endless. Here’s what I did.

Lemongrass Pesto

Pine nuts, toasted
Garlic cloves, peeled
Ginger, peeled
Lemongrass bulbs, peeled and trimmed
Chile peppers (mine were mild)
Olive oil

Place the toasted pine nuts in a blender jar.

Add the garlic, ginger, lemongrass and chile peppers.

Add olive oil until it covers the ingredients.

Blend until smooth.

Add the cilantro and basil and blend again.

Store in the refrigerator, or freeze until later use.


Since originally making this pesto and writing the post, I have had salmon topped with this pesto. And it was fabulous!!!

* The chile peppers I used were Nardello peppers. They’re not very hot, but add good flavor.

40 thoughts on “Lemongrass Pesto

  1. Absolutely wonderful! I can imagine the taste… I am a huge fan of lemongrass

    (I am on a trip at the moment and keeping up with blogs has been iffy, but here I am for a quick hello!)

    • Funny, I never thought about cheese, but you’re right. When I make pesto, I always omit the cheese because I freeze it. Someone told me the cheese doesn’t freeze well, and I believed her. Besides, it cuts back on the volume of the pesto, and I really love adding the cheese myself when I make an actual dish. I’ll keep doing it this way!

    • I used it in the soup, and spread it on baked salmon, but I can see it being used how pesto is used, although it contains no cheese. Spread on pizza, mixed with mayo, and definitely tossed with pasta.

  2. That sounds fantastic! I had planned on making a pesto with peanuts and “something green” plus a herb or spice but really couldn’t come up with anything good. I think I’ll give it a try with lemongrass.

  3. Wow Mimi – this sounds so wonderful. I love lemongrass. Am so impressed you grew it – I wonder if I can grow it in Ontario with our short growing season. I will investigate. When I lived in Australia I was addicted to a lemongrass pate sold in one of the local delis. And as for dreaming of recipes – that is brilliant.

  4. What flavours you have in your pesto! I have been trying to add some seasoning to otherwise healthy (read boring) pieces of chicken and fish without adding extra calories with heavy sauces. This would be just the recipe to do that:D How much of each did you use.. for eg.. the lemongrass stalks??

    • I left the ingredient amounts random because I thought it might be about personal preference, but I used pretty much what you see in the one photo. I think. Probably about 8 cloves of garlic, about a 2″ piece of ginger, and about 4 bulbs of lemongrass. 2 mild chile peppers, a bunch of cilantro, without the stems, and a lesser amountof basil leaves. It was pretty amazing!!!

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