Thursday, September 15, 2011

Pistachio & Cilantro Pesto Shrimp Tacos / Marquez Danzon No. 2

You'd be hard pressed to find a native Angeleno who is not completely addicted to Mexican food. We're also guilty of constantly tinkering with the very basics that we love so much. When I saw this original and refreshing twist on shrimp tacos in last month's issue of Sunset Magazine, I couldn't wait to give it a try - especially since it appeared so simple that even I, the slowest home chef west of the Rockies, guessed that I could probably get it done in 20 minutes or less. Amazingly, that turned out to be the case. While the shrimp were grilling, I threw together a light lemony slaw and warmed up some tortillas on the stove.

Pistachio and Cilantro Pesto Shrimp Skewers
(Adapted from Sunset Magazine)

1 cup lightly packed cilantro sprigs (yes, even the stems!)
1/4 cup olive oil 
1 lime, zested and juiced
1/4 teaspoon salt 
1/8 teaspoon ground coriander 
1/2 cup toasted, unsalted pistachios 
1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined 

Heat grill to high. 

In a food processor, combine the lime juice and zest, olive oil, and cilantro. Pulse a few times to combine. Add in the salt, coriander, and pistachios, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed, until your pesto is smooth.

Coat the shrimp evenly with the pesto, and skewer. (I use metal skewers, but wooden ones soaked in water for 30 minutes would be fine as well.) Grill for about two minutes per side, or until pink, being careful not to overcook them. 

Serve with cole slaw (my recipe below), warm tortillas, and extra lime wedges. (I'll be adding fresh cut corn and cotija cheese next time.)

{As my husband likes to say: "how can this be bad?"}

{We told our nut-allergic friend that this was "epi-pen worthy"}

{Shrimp, ready for the grill}
{Lemony Slaw - recipe below}
Light Lemony Slaw 

1 tablespoon mayonnaise
2 tablespoons sour cream or greek yogurt (anything goes here - full fat, non fat, etc)
1 tablespoon sugar
zest and juice of one lemon
One pound shredded cabbage, carrot, and/or broccoli mix
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup chopped fresh scallions
salt and pepper to taste

In a bowl large enough for the finished amount of slaw, whisk together the mayonnaise, sour cream or greek yogurt, sugar, and lemon zest and juice. Add the cabbage mixture, parsley, and scallions and toss well. We like this with plenty of pepper.

{My patented tortilla-warming technique. Violin-calloused fingers come in handy here, but are not required}
For a musical pairing, enjoy Gustavo Dudamel and the Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra's vivacious performance of what has been affectionately dubbed the "Second National Anthem" of Mexico: Arturo Marquez's Danzon No. 2. It's zesty, fun, simple, and loaded with Latin flavor. I dare you not to dance while listening to it. (Another fun connection: Mexican-born Marquez spent his childhood here in Los Angeles before returning to Mexico for college.)


  1. Sounds delicious. I'm sure you all enjoyed this meal. I so love schrimp. And the salad looks so happy and healthy, too;-)

  2. This looks so declicious! I love Mexican food and good Mexician food is somehwat difficult to find in NY- I have been wanting to try Mexican from Cali to Texas for a long time.

  3. thanks for friending me on foodbuzz! i grew up listening to classical music (my mom was in the chorus at the met opera) and playing piano so i'm so happy to have found your delicious blog, esp. from another angeleno

  4. ~this sounds and looks SO delicious!

  5. this looks yum! I love shrimp tacos so I cant imagine how awesome these tasted. Ive never tried heating up tortillas in that fashion. I would probably burn myself

  6. i am hungry!!!!!

  7. I love how everything works together. And I really love the musical pairing. Seriously. Can't wait.

  8. This looks incredible. I'm bookmarking this page so I can come back later and make this for my family!

    x. jill
    those ghosts

  9. That looks amazing! I think pistachios aren't used frequently enough in savory dishes.

  10. I have never had coriander pesto! It sounds perfect for a big fan of coriander like me!
    Thanks for visiting my blog!

  11. I love coriander pesto. So versatile can go with so many other ingredients to make a delicious meal. I am very sure I will enjoy this meal.

  12. Reading your post and listening to your link were the best 15 minutes of my day (so far) -- I HAD to dance to this. :) Loved the opening strains; my sister was an oboeist and I was a clarinetist "back in the day" -- happy memories. It was a joy to watch the dynamic energy between the orchestra and conductor. Don't know how the audience stayed in their seats. Thanks again!

  13. I love both cilantro (obviously!) and pistachios, but for some reason never thought to combine them in a pesto. Silly me. ;) This recipe looks great, and the bright slaw to go with it sounds fresh and healthy!

  14. So gorgeous- I've just lost an hour to trawling the archives of your blog. Thank you for the beautiful distraction...

  15. This looks so delicious and a lot different from the usual meat tacos!