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The girl with the filbert eyes

August 7, 2009

When our daughter was little we always teased her and told her that she had filbert eyes.  She didn’t know the difference between hazel and filbert at the time, but now she does.  Hazelnuts sound better than the mundane filberts – but they are the same and filberts, err I mean hazelnuts are a very popular crop in Oregon and they taste great.

In any recipe calling for nuts, I almost always use filberts.  They are local, and I love the taste.  Pine nuts that are affordable usually come from China, which kind of takes the bloom off the rose for me. 

Pesto is one of those recipes, and when you think of pesto, most people reach for the basil and pine nuts, but we prefer cilantro and hazelnuts.  We are kind of cilantro freaks around here anyway.  It’s easy to grow, it can be used for detoxing, and it tastes great.


Cilantro and filberts can’t be beat!

mom's pics (394)

Filberts are actually the first blooming plant here in the winter.  It’s hard to believe that little magenta flower will become a nut by fall.


Cilantro has naturalized itself in our gardens, I plant a little but we usually just weed around it.  The seed is the spice coriander, so this is really a useful culinary plant as well as an insectary plant.  For the pesto, I’m not too particular about having only leaves.  Using the flowers and green seeds on a plant at this stage will only add to the flavor.  It’s all food right?


We just harvested the garlic too, so this is a perfect time for pesto making.  I’ll use my smallest heads, leaving larger ones for seed, and for storage.  This is a gardening tip, during the summer when I don’t like to take a lot of time peeling small cloves of garlic for canning, I like the hard neck garlics.  The softnecks have smaller cloves and keep better, but I don’t have a lot of patience this time of year, so I grow both.    This is Music.


1 cup toasted hazelnuts
4 cups firmly packed cilantro (or herb of your choice)
3 or 4 cloves garlic
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3/4 cup olive oil

Toast hazelnuts on a cookie sheet in a 350°F oven about 10 minutes until lightly browned.  To remove skins after toasting, rub the nuts vigorously with a towel, most of the skins will be loose and will come off.

Puree nuts, cilantro, and garlic in a food processor or blender until smooth.  Add cheese and just mix.  In a steady stream add olive oil while the machine is running.  Pour or spoon into jar size of your choice.  To prevent oxidation you can add a small amount of oil to the top of the pesto before capping.  Frozen pesto easily keeps a year if frozen in jars.

I would avoid plastic containers for freezing, due to the high oil content of the pesto.  With that in mind I have stocked up on different size canning jars for freezing foods that we prefer frozen instead of canned.  No BPA’s, or freezer burn, and I can reuse my canning lids over and over for freezing needs.   

This is just one recipe, experiment with different herbs like dill, and parsley too, and any kind of nut, and put some away to savor the the dark days of winter.

This post is a part of Food Renegade’s Fight Back Friday’s.  The mix of posts there each insures that there will be something of interest to everyone concerned about good, healthy food.  Check it out 🙂

23 Comments leave one →
  1. August 7, 2009 2:02 am

    Really interesting post. I have got to get me some cilantro. I was given a big lovage plant by my mom. I slowly began using it in this and that and now my kids don’t even like my spaghetti sauce if I don’t use it!

    • August 7, 2009 11:35 am

      LOL, once we taste something new, it really adds to the flavor. That’s the way I feel about the celery, it doesn’t get as large as the irrigated specimens from California, but it sure has great flavor 🙂

  2. August 7, 2009 2:50 am

    Your pesto looks very good and I actually planted cilantro in my pond area last year and it came back this year and that really surprised me!!

    • August 7, 2009 11:36 am

      Lisa, it is pretty tough, and will reseed readily. When it sprouts in the garden I know it is time get planting.

  3. August 7, 2009 4:39 am

    I like Hazelnuts too and did not know that they were grown in Oregon. Thanks for that bit of information.

    What are the long yellow things on the tree? Are these the nuts? Very interesting indeed.

    Have a great weekend.

    • August 7, 2009 11:37 am

      finding pam, the yellow things are the male flower, or catkin and the pollen falls from them to that eensy little purple flower. And you know the rest;)

  4. August 7, 2009 5:52 am

    Filberts and cilantro are two things I CAN’T grow so I’ve always used basil. I’d love to try it sometime.

  5. August 7, 2009 7:30 am

    Gorgeous photos! Hannah took one look at your pesto picture and said “Make some of that, Mother!” That’s always a plus.

    • August 7, 2009 11:39 am

      Sarah, Hannah sounds like Ruthless! She used to graze the basil and cress when she was little, no bland baby food for her! And Hannah either 🙂

  6. August 7, 2009 8:15 am

    I always love coming here, for I learn something new every time!

    Thank you!

    And your heat is here now.


    • August 7, 2009 11:39 am

      Linda, I hope you can use the heat! I saw some Olathe corn from your neck of the woods the other day! Interesting post.

  7. August 7, 2009 9:41 am

    Aren’t you clever! Never thought to make pesto with cilantro. I have yet to have good luck freezing with glass. I will attempt again.

    • August 7, 2009 11:40 am

      Kim, it’s pretty good, sorry about the jar breaking thing, at least the pesto doesn’t have too much liquid so it freezes well.

  8. August 7, 2009 10:58 am

    All your hard work is so gently described and illustrated that one just feels rested afterward, like after an hour’s meditation. We have a filbert, we have cilantro, I’m gonna get crackin’.

    Thank you.

  9. August 7, 2009 11:06 am

    We bought some when we were in Eugene a couple of weeks ago to roast in a cast iron skillet over the firepit.

    Tres tasty!!!

    I’ll have to try the recipe, if I can stop eating them.

    • August 7, 2009 11:42 am

      Meadowlark, I know what you mean, I have to toast extra so we can snack while making the pesto – it’s hard work ya’ know!!

      They’re good in granola too 🙂

  10. August 8, 2009 9:55 am

    I forgot to say that my hubs makes a pico de gallo with cilantro, but we never tried pesto out of it.

    I have given you an award and I understand if you do not have time for it. It is just my way of saying thanks to you for the friendship and for all the wonderful things you teach us on your blog.

  11. August 8, 2009 12:07 pm

    I grew up with hazelnuts. My hands would always break out from the pesky little husks. I remember eating a few but the wild ones were really tiny.

    Just recently I had some raw hazelnuts and just scarfed them down….
    wowser! my mouth was on fire and I could hardly swallow when I tried to drink water to cool it.

    I don’t think I’ll be trying anything hazelnut very soon.

    And that is so sad, because Burgerville has a chocolate hazelnut milkshake that can’t be beat.

  12. August 8, 2009 12:09 pm

    ps. I love cilantro. In everything but ice cream. hey.. maybe cilantro ice cream would even be good?

  13. August 10, 2009 5:20 pm

    Cool! Thanks for the recipe, I’ll have to try it. I didn’t know filberts and hazelnuts are one in the same. That reminded me, I had come up with a name for Happy’s calf if a heifer and it was Hazel, but I keep forgetting that. I’ll have to write it down. Thanks!

  14. August 10, 2009 7:09 pm

    I have been thinking of pesto too. I usually use basil, parsley and walnuts but am open to new ideas. Hazelnuts sound interesting. Cilantro too, once I’ve used the basil in my garden. Great ideas!

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