Thursday, May 27, 2010

Cilantro Lime Chicken Tacos

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When you think of pesto, does the traditional basil pesto usually come to mind at first? That's what I think of but there's a whole world of other kinds of pestos to check out! I've been experimenting with various kinds of pestos and my current favorite is this recipe for Cilantro Lime Pesto. It's definitely one to try and there's so many ways to use it, such as in these Cilantro Lime Chicken Tacos...

Cilantro and lime is a flavor combo that's commonly seen together. When combined as a pesto, you can be sure the flavor is refreshing and light! The pesto is simply made with cilantro leaves, toasted sliced almonds, asiago cheese, fresh garlic, salt, olive oil and a bit of chicken broth. Just like a traditional basil pesto, this version can be frozen, used as a dip, a spread, a sauce... whatever your favorite application is for pesto!

I tossed the cilantro lime pesto with some cooked chicken, then filled flour tortillas for a twist on chicken tacos. The pesto gave the chicken a bright and light flavor perfect for the warm spring and summer months. For the tacos, feel free to use whatever garnishes or additional toppings you wish. I topped our Cilantro Lime Chicken Tacos with sauteed bell peppers and onions, slices of ripe avocado,and shredded cheese.


Cilantro Lime Chicken Tacos
original Joelen recipe


cooking spray for sauteeing
2-3 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut in bite sized pieces
salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 cup cilantro lime pesto (recipe follows)
flour or corn tortillas
preferred taco garnishes (salsa, sour cream, cheese, etc)


Season chicken with salt, pepper and garlic powder. In a skillet sprayed with cooking spray, saute chicken over medium high heat and cooked through. Toss cooked, seasoned chicken with the pesto. Fill tortillas with chicken and top with preferred garnishes.

* To make ahead/freezer meal - Cook chicken as directed as above and cool. Place chicken in freezer bag. Prepare cilantro lime pesto as directed below. Place a 1/2 cup of pesto in a small storage bag then place inside the freezer bag with the chicken. Freeze. When ready to prepare, defrost and heat chicken. Toss chicken with defrosted pesto. If desired, heat chicken and pesto together before filling tacos.


Cilantro Lime Pesto
recipe adapted from Food Network

1 cup fresh cilantro leaves (do not include stems)
2 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons sliced, toasted almonds
3 tablespoons chopped, fresh garlic
1 1/2 teaspoon lime juice
1/2 cup shredded asiago (Parmesan or Romano can be substituted too)
1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup chicken broth


Using a blender, mix together the cilantro, olive oil, almonds, garlic, lime juice, asiago, salt and chicken broth on low speed for 2 minutes.

83 comments:

Kelly said...

I love the idea of freezing meat in its marinade so when you are ready to eat all you have to do is defrost. It seems like such a simple concept that I am shocked I never thoguht of it before.

Cambriaaaa said...

These look delish!

Lo said...

These tacos look wonderful. Cilantro and lime is a marriage made in heaven! Now, if only I could get that freezer organized...

Cassie said...

I made these and I have never loved anything so much in my life! Love Love Love! Thank you!

Jennifer said...

Looks yummy!

brianandbethany said...

didn't turn out as yummy as I had hoped. way too much salt in the pesto! will make again with a few changes

Joelen said...

Sorry it didn't come out as you homed Brianandbethany. Did you use table salt or kosher salt? If table salt, it would have come out saltier since the grains are finer... but if kosher salt, it should have been fine. I'll update the ingredient list to reflect kosher salt...

Erica said...

I'm a smidge confused... the pic looks like you mixed the chicken and the pesto together - then put it in the freezer. The instructions make it sound like you package them separately. The first comment makes it sound like you mix them together, then freeze, thaw and cook. Which one? LOL

Joelen said...

Erica, I tossed the defrosted cooked chicken with defrosted pesto by adding the pesto inside the bag of cooked chicken... then I heated both together before filling tacos. (See last line of the freezer instructions above).The picture above reflects the defrosted pesto and chicken combined in a freezer bag just before I heated it up.

Samantha said...

This is phenomenal! I snacked on the pesto straight out of the food processor with corn chips. Soooooo good!

{Happy Homes} said...

Just found this and it sounds amazing! Fixing it tonight! :)
blessings,
tonyad

EP said...

Hi! Found this last week and pinned it. Made it tonight! How fabulous, fast, AND delish!

My 3.5 year old said it was so yummy (even though it was green) and asked for seconds :)

Thanks so much!
Elizabeth

Alison said...

I think that I might try this with some shredded chicken instead of cubes of chicken. It sounds yummy!!! Can't wait to try it :)

ERIN Ulman said...

I am making these tonight but using leftover turkey from Thanksgiving yesterday instead of the chicken. (Always looking for ways to use up leftover turkey!)

Kelly said...

I wonder if I can do this all in the slow cooker...?

Joelen Tan said...

Kelly, if you wanted to utilize a slow cooker, I would slow roast your chicken in the slow cooker, cool and then remove the chicken from the bone. Toss the chicken with the cilantro lime pesto and fill your tacos. Another alternative is to use a cooked rotisserie chicken from the grocery store, remove from the bone and toss with the pesto. Hope this helps!

Anonymous said...

Joelen,

What is the best way to defrost the freezer meals. Sometimes I defrost in the microwave(cause that's the fastest way to defrost) and it ends up partially cooked and the texture changes. I've thawed food in the container or ziploc in a bowl of warm water on the counter. I've also put the frozen food in the refrigerator to thaw the day before we eat it. Any helpful ideas wood be greatly appreciated. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Could this be done using a fish of some kind?? Just asking?

Melody said...

I used the pesto with shrimp stirfry and quinoa tonight and it was delicious!

SheSaid said...

Just made this for dinner tonight! it was excellent and the hubby & toddler loved it. I think this would taste great on fish tacos too. Thanks for sharing!

Anonymous said...

How many servings does the pesto make with the amounts that you listed?

Anonymous said...

I made this today and found it to be a bit garlicky and added an avocado to the mix to take some of the garlic kick out..it was super yummy. I was also wondering how many servings the pesto made. I will probably take the garlic down to two tablespoons next time! Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Have You ever made Wings with the pesto mixture? I've been looking for a chili & lime mix for wings. Will have to give this a try. Thanks

Anonymous said...

I made this for my family for St. Patricks day and they were arguing over it! Im adding it to my menu for sure.

Anonymous said...

I made the Pesto and am now marinating my chicken in it, Oooops! I hope after we grill it it will still be yummy.

mcpn said...

I was lucky enough to find this earlier today and included it in my Friday Faves post this afternoon at http://artsandcraftshome.blogspot.com/2012/03/friday-faves-from-this-week.html Thank you!

thecocinamonologues.com said...

Sounds delicious, can't wait to try it!

Anonymous said...

I know you posted this so long ago, but I have to comment how much I LOVE this recipe. I make it in triple batches and freeze. A great company recipe too! I've also used this as a pizza base and used various toppings- my favorite is chicken & mushroom. thank you!

Anonymous said...

Sounds great I will be trying this soon. I found this recipe on pinterest and was wondering if you would be Ok with me re posting it?

Anonymous said...

I made these last night and they were amazing! I marinated the chicken in the pesto and then grilled it. Next time I won't do that though because all of the pesto fell off while grilling. Luckily, I put some pesto aside so we still had some to put on the chicken! I used 1 tsp. of sea salt, thinking it was the same thing as kosher salt, and that was a little too much. Will probably use 1/2 tsp. next time. Thank you so much for the fabulous recipe! Can't wait to have them again!

Katherine said...

I used the pre-minced garlic that you get in a tube. Could that be why mine was too garlicky?

Penny~ said...

I made this tonight, and it was FABULOUS!!!!! I just ate it straight... no shells or anything... AMAZING!!! Do you have the nutritional information for this?

Joelen Tan said...

Hi Penny! Sadly, I don't have any nutritional information for this recipe. But this link may give you sites that may be helpful in finding out: http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/7-websites-give-nutritional-information-eat-smarter/

Heather @ What Does She Do All Day? said...

Cilantro and lime is one of my FAVORITE combinations. These were so good! I hope the hubby likes them (he's not a cilantro fan) so I can make them again and again!

Anonymous said...

Very yummy but I do agree too much salt and I did use kosher salt so maybe for my taste less salt but very yummy great job!

Kristen {a little ditty} said...

Just found your blog via Pinterest. Everything on here looks delicious! Happy to find a fellow Chicago blogger :)

Traci said...

Made this tonight and loved it! Had a problem with the pesto ... what consistency should it be? I tried to mix it up in my Blendtec and it didn't do so well. Wondering if I need to add more broth or olive oil. It was very thick.

Anonymous said...

I made this with tilapia- yummy fish tacos!

breanna said...

I feel like I could just pour the cilantro lime pesto into a cup and drink it…sounds so good!

I've linked to your post here: http://dollarstoremom.com/2012/07/pinterest-picks-44/

Chicory Blue said...

Any favorite sub for the almonds? I have an almond allergy-but not to other nuts.

Anonymous said...

That's what I would have assumed you did and kept reading to find out if I missed something. It seems like a waste not to have all that flavour penetrate the chicken no?

Katie said...

I want to try this! Daughter has a tree nut allergy so wondering if it will turn out as good as the reviews if I omit the almonds? I may just have to try and find out. Thanks for sharing.

Joelen Tan said...

Chicory Blue & Katie - you can omit the almonds if you want but if you want a substitute, you can try pine nuts!

Anonymous said...

We just had these for dinner. Everyone loved it. I served spanish rice as a side dish. Very good :)

Anonymous said...

Just made these tonight! So delicious... Love the cilantro lime combo!

Diet Tips said...

I love tacos and this recipe looks so good! I make tacos all the time at home it really is the healthiest way to make them. And you can make tacos at home with a lot less calories then tacos from taco bell.

Anonymous said...

I made this for "Taco Tuesday " tonight, it was such a hit !!! My husband asked me to make a "vat" of the sauce. As many have said, cilantro and lime are a match made in heaven. Nect week we are going to put the pesto on a skirt steak and throw it on the grill. Many thanks for such a delicious recipe !!

Heather said...

Your recipes never fail! Made this last night for the family and we ALL loved it! My husband was practically licking his plate. I did make adjustments due to not having all ingredients and time: I used 2 Tablespoons olive oil, minced garlic, juice from half a lime, about 1 cup of fresh cilantro finely chopped and seasonings then poured it over my chicken breasts and baked in the oven. It was truly divine!

Homeschooling Trio said...

I am thinking of making this for a meal exchange I do with 4 other ladies. Are you recipes 4-6 servings? If so would you suggest the times by 5 for 5 of us? I tried some other pages but I did not see where it had servings.Thank you!

Claudia said...

Looks yummy! Thanks!
Have you tried using "cotija" cheese instead of the asiago or parmesan? I think I'll try it and then let you know how it tastes.

Anonymous said...

I am really excited to try this recipe! However, I am not sure of how to "heat" the chicken and pesto once I take it out of the freezer. What method did you use to heat it? The microwave, at full power and for how long? Or on the stove, or in the oven? Thanks for any help!! -Kristen

Jill said...

These are delish, but like others said, I would be careful with the salt. I would cut down on the garlic (mine was super potent!) and add a tad bit more lime juice. This pesto could be used as a salsa type of dip or would be great on fish tacos!

Anonymous said...

Made his yesterday. It was so easy to make and delicious!

Bruce and Brandi Bryce said...

Made this tonight...it was a thumbs down for us. I am pretty sure it was the Asiago cheese. I have never used that cheese before and just the smell of it made my stomach churn. It must be one of those acquired taste foods. I couldn't even taste the cilantro or the lime because the cheese is SO strong. I think if I try this again I will use a different cheese like you suggest in the recipe. what would happen to the pesto if I left the cheese out and just sprinkled it in the taco as a topping?

Anonymous said...

delicious, but the fresh garlic was too strong. I am going to try roasted garlic next time. I'll probably double or triple it so I can freeze it for later.

Anonymous said...

This was amazingly good! I added a little more asiago cheese because I love cheese and omitted the almonds.I made some homemade salsa n topped it with a scoop of sour creme. The hubby LOVED IT! Came out great!!!! Freezing it was a good idea too. I have lots for later with minimal work.

sjmiller said...

Just made these, and they were AMAZING! Made them for a friend, and they loved them as well! Thanks for the recipe!

Anonymous said...

There was so much garlic that I couldn't taste anything else and had to toss the rest of it. It was just absolutely overwhelming and I love garlic. If I try this recipe again I would try cooked garlic instead of fresh garlic but I will probably never make it again. It's a pity because I love pesto, cilantro, garlic... pretty much everything in the recipe but it just didn't taste good all together.

Lindy said...

I just made this tonight but I was intimidated by the amount of garlic so I used 1 TBSP of preminced garlic and no salt and it was AMAZING!!! This will be served at our house once a week. Even my pickiest child had seconds!

Olivia Fletcher said...

Just an FYI - Pine nuts are part of the tree nuts family, so someone who is allergic to almonds shouldn't eat them either.
This looks delicious and I am excited to try it.

Anonymous said...

This is a great dish, I cut back on the garlic and used 4 cloves...I thought it was about 2 tbsp.. I also used parmesan and reduced it just a bit. I saw little reason for the chicken broth and subbed water. I also was nervous about the salt and went with a tsp rnded. It didn't look like enough in the blender, but it turned out to be quite spot on for coverage and taste both. I added a side dish of onions with jalapenos and haberneros for a little heat. I added juices of a whole lime to the chicken to deglaze the pan and it got a little limier, but I like it that way..

I am reading the comments now and think those that didn't like it could have made a few adjustments by tasting the pesto first, and adding salt and garlic to taste.. I found it interesting my concerns were somewhat valid with my adjustments. Thanks for a great recipe.

mamachitchat said...

Can't eat diary. How would it taste if I omitted the cheese?

Chef Jeff said...

This truly looks delicious. My mouth is watering and it is 6:33am. Time for an early lunch.

Thanks for sharing your delicious food with the world. I can't wait to try this.

Anonymous said...

I love cilantro and was excited to find a new way to get a "fix"! I made the recipe as it reads, and agree that given the saltiness of the cheese, that salt should be added to taste as the pesto is being made. I recommend using a food processor if you have one. I felt like a lot was left in the blender after trying hard to scrape it.
I was not sure how the family was going to like it, so I went two ways at once. I slathered some on boneless breasts and baked them. We had the baked for dinner last night, and it was fantastic! The garlic was toned down but the cheese cilantro flavors were great.
I used the other 1/2 of the pesto to make tacos, which we'll have tonight (mmmmm). I had a few bites of the cold chicken w/ pesto and think it would also make a fantastic wrap.

Thanks very much for sharing a great recipe! It will be added to the menu often. :) Becca

Anonymous said...

I have just finished premaking a batch of the pesto for dinner to night. I have tasted the mix raw and it was delicious! I used Parmesan cheese instead of asaigo and omited the broth. If it needs thining down during the cooking process i will add some then i was just a little concerned about it keeping with broth in it. I also mixed it up a bit by adding some of the lime zest yum!

missheathernichole11 said...

I make it ahead and freeze, but for those asking about how to heat it, you would simply use the crockpot or oven.

Anonymous said...

For those who say it lacks flavor, try leaving out the cheese. I know it is strange, because usually cheese makes everything better, but in this recipe it muddles the flavor. I also up the lime juice a little and it is great!

Anonymous said...

I made there tonight and they came out great. The only thing Is that the pesto came out thick and I wanted to coat the chicken quickly. The flavor was excellent though. I made it with my own style chicken (just seasoned chicken breasts with cumin, garlic salt, onion salt, basil and paprika) corn tortillas, lettuce , tomato, and cheese. None of it was fried and it came out delicious! Will be making again.

Anonymous said...

I make this all the time, but I marinate the uncooked chicken in the pesto for 8 to 24 hrs and then grill it on the barbeque. I chop it up in chunks and serve on tortillas. It's so yummy.

Anonymous said...

Yikes....I'm a garlic eater but this pesto recipe tastes like pure garlic. I think 1 tablespoon would have been better. I will try it again, next time with less garlic. Great Idea though....I love the cilantro/lime on taco's idea.

Anonymous said...

Yum Yum Yum!!!I made these last night, and my fiance and I just loved them! I cut the garlic in half, as too much upsets my stomach, and it was so good. Eating the leftovers tonight, served over a green salad. Also, the bell peepers are a great combo, I sauteed green and red bell peppers with a little EVO, salt, pepper and onion powder (just like the chicken) and it was the perfect topping!

Anonymous said...

Can the almonds be replaced with something else? My husband and son are allergic to almonds but this looks really tasty and I want to make it.

Joelen Tan said...

Anonymous - the almonds can be replaced with pinenuts or even walnuts well.

karin said...

I just made the pesto, haven't put it together yet as I'll be using it for chicken taco sliders for superbowl. I have to add that I'm a salt lover, used less than one teaspoon salt and consider it very salty...will probably not salt the chicken so it will balance out. Also the garlic is so strong it burned my mouth....i suggest using half the amount of salt and garlic and then add more to taste. I imagine if cooking with the pesto it would be fine as the garlic will mellow but if tossing afterwards be careful. I'm going to do as the recipe suggests and toss together after cooking chicken but think i will reserve a little and marinate and cook a separate piece of chicken in the pesto to try that way. If love to freeze the raw chicken in the pesto snd crockpot it! Despite the strong garlic and salt it still is super tasty!!

Harmony said...

For those who are allergic to tree nuts, consider using sunflower seeds. My experience is with basil pesto made that way, and it's still excellent (though pine nuts or walnuts are more traditional). Looking forward to trying this recipe.

Jesse Brixius said...

How would you cook it in the oven what temp and how long? Asap please making tonight

Stephanie Garcia said...

OMG!!! So good! Thank you for posting. Just made these tonight for my husband and 3 little girls, ages 5,4,and 3, and they ALL loved it, including my picky eater. They all cleared their plates! That makes me one HAPPY momma!! Thanks again for sharing!

Stephanie Garcia said...

Oh forgot to add that I used less salt than the recipe called for. The first batch of pesto I had was too salty for my liking! So I just used 3/4 tsp of salt.

megan fisk said...

this is amazing I make it weekly for my family and were lucky if there's leftovers

Jessica said...

Making these again tonight - they are so good! Thanks for the great recipe! And I love your blog header - my last name is Chicago, so it feels like it's talking to me haha :)

Ang21 said...

I'm making for the second time this week- my boyfriend LOVED them! Thanks for the recipe :)

Kristine said...

Hi Joelen, what do you think of marinating the chicken meat in some of the sauce? i want to make sure the meat has flavor too. already made the sauce and it smells great! thank you!

Kristine said...

hi joelen, what do you think of marinating the chicken in the sauce overnight? any other suggestions to make sure the chicken has flavor? i already made the sauce and it smells great! thank you.

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