pasta with cilantro-lime pesto from

I don’t buy cooking magazines. But every once in a while we have extra frequent flyer miles, and the airlines will send us a voucher for free subscriptions to several publications. I always ordered Gourmet, because I loved Ruth Reichl and the photography was amazing. Since it was discontinued, I go back and forth between Food&WineBon Appétit, and Everyday Food.

I have to admit that I have a weakness for printed material. Glossy pages, beautiful photos, and the smell of paper fresh from the press is like crack to me. As a child, I never wrote in my books, I never folded the corners to mark my place, I never flipped a paperback for easier reading. My books had to stay immaculate, even in college, when all the comments and quotes ended up in notebooks, rather than underlined or in the margins. Marring a book’s pristine pages seemed sacrilegious. I apply the same standards to magazines, and it is not surprising that a growing pile of them always resides somewhere in my house, moved from one place to another, most of them still untouched.

When we moved from Ohio to California, I had to scale down from over 3500 square feet with a finished basement and a huge two car garage to little over 900 square feet with no basement, no garage, no yard, and no storage space of any kind. As neither one of us was willing to part with our many books that fill more than seven bookcases, we had to apply a different strategy. Husband had to give up boxes of obsolete electronics and do-it-yourself gadgets. The kids had to donate a lot of toys, games, and clothes to the Berea orphanage. I had to let go of a lot of my kitchen stuff. And I had to give up my magazines. I leafed through every single one, copied the recipes I liked into my digital cookbook, brought them all to the library, seemingly unopened and new, and left them knowing that somebody would take care of them.

It did not take long for a pile of magazines to appear on my side table in our tiny apartment in Southern California (I apologize to my friends and family in Europe for calling a perfectly ample and comfortable area of 90 m squared tiny; it’s all about relativity). It is not as impressive as before because I reined myself in and got the subscriptions to only one at a time. They are so pretty, all shiny and new, with beautiful photos adorning their front pages. I want to cook from them, but just the thought of them being in close proximity to splattering oil or a whirring mixer gives me the chills. I cannot submit my lovelies to such treatment…

But I am aware that we have to use our furniture for other purposes than as magazine stands, especially if the magazines are just sitting there idly. In the meantime a glossy, new sample diligently appears in our mail box once a month. So a compromise was born out of desperation. When I announced that I would write down a recipe I like to make out of a magazine every week or so in one of my handy notebooks, Husband rolled his eyes in disbelief and asked why I just didn’t load it in my iPhone like all the normal people.

Barbara of Vino Luci Style has a  monthly blog event called RSVP Redux that features the recipes from Bon Appétit’s RSVP section. I wanted to participate for several months, but an aforementioned (barely noticeable) disorder prevented me. The stack of magazines was eagerly waiting to fulfill its existential purpose, and for once, I was highly motivated. The quest for the introductory recipe has begun.

When Father was here recently on his usual extended visit, he wanted to take us out to dinner. He is a gourmand, and I always try to expose him to new culinary experiences. I picked a Peruvian restaurant, Inca Mama, not too far away from us, knowing that this would be something new and unfamiliar for all of us. The service was not that great, but the atmosphere was good and we loved the food.

As I was thumbing through my Bon Appétit issue from July of 2010, I found a recipe that reminded me of one of the dishes we had that night which impressed us the most in all its simplicity: Pasta with Shrimp and Cilantro-Lime Pesto. It was in the RSVP section and seemed like a wonderful start, especially after Husband had been hounding me to try to replicate his Peruvian meal. The list of ingredients was short and my mental faculties were not sufficiently challenged to make me reach for a pad and pen.

I have made the original pesto Bolognese many times, ever since I discovered the strange-looking, vibrantly green sauce served over cappellini pasta in fine-dining Italian restaurants in the 80s. I occasionally substituted parsley for basil, and walnuts for pine nuts just to experiment with the flavors. But I have never used cilantro in pesto. I associate pesto with Italian cuisine and cilantro with Latin American and Asian food. I love my Asian noodles with my Asian sauces, and it did not occur to me to attempt some kind of fusion, as I thought that it was something only Ming Tsai did. Now that I think of it, I know that there are a lot of Italian immigrants in Argentina, Bolivia, and Venezuela who invariably brought their traditional dishes to their new homes and adapted them to the local ingredients.

The dish came together in less than thirty minutes. I blended cilantro, garlic, green onions, jalapeño peppers, lime juice, and olive oil until emulsified, while the pasta was boiling. As soon as it was done, I sauteed the shrimp, added the tequila and sauce, and mixed everything with linguine. I was supposed to sprinkle crumbled Feta on top (I did not have Cotija cheese as the recipe specified) after I served it, but I forgot. Unbelievably easy, but packed with tastiness. A fresh, intensely flavored, restaurant-style dish appeared on our dinner table in minutes. And no magazines were harmed in the process.

stack of magazines from

PASTA WITH SHRIMP AND CILANTRO-LIME PESTO (Bon Appétit, July 2010, adapted from Tejas Texas Grill & Saloon in Hermantown, Minnesota)


  • 1 ¾ cups fresh cilantro, plus ¼ cup chopped (reserve for later)
  • ¼ cups green onion, coarsely chopped
  • 3 Tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 2 garlic cloves, coarsely minced
  • 1 Tbsp chopped, seeded, jalapeño chile
  • ½ cup plus 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • salt
  • 1lb linguine
  • 1 lb uncooked shrimp, cleaned and deveined
  • 3 Tbsp tequila
  • ¼ cup crumbled Cotija or feta (optional)
  • salt, pepper


Blend cilantro, green onions, lime juice, garlic, and chile. Gradualy add ½ cup olive oil with machine running. Season generously with salt. Prepared sauce can be made one day ahead and refrigerated.

Cook linguine in a large pot of salted water until cooked al dente. Drain.

Meanwhile, heat remaining 1 Tbsp of oil in a heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add shrimp and cook until almost opaque in the center, about 3 minutes. Remove skillet from heat, add tequila, return to heat, and stir for 30 seconds to thicken a sauce a little. Add sauce, stir to combine, and remove from heat.

Add pasta, toss, and season woth salt and pepper.

Divide among 4 plates. Sprinkle with cheese and chopped cilantro, and serve.

Serves 4.

Besides RSVP Redux, I am sending this dish to Hearth ‘n Soul blog hop, hosted by Alex of A Moderate Life and Presto Pasta Nights hosted by Ruth of Once Upon a Feast (Presto Pasta Nights celebrates its forth birthday on Friday, and this Thursday there is going to be a bash there! Great chance to visit!)

17 Responses to Periodically

  1. Jelena says:

    Lana, ja imam bolje rešenje za časopise. Pročitam, iseckam, i zalepim u svesku koja je izdeljena po grupama na peciva, salate i namaze, meso, povrće, supe, paste i deserte. Tako mi je sve na jednom mestu i uvek lepim samo ono što znam da ću praviti ili gde ću pronaći inspiraciju za nešto novo. Doduše imam u šupi u dvorištu kutiju ogromnu sa Vogovima, Glamur časopisima, Vanity Fair, i Harpers iz osamdesetih i devedesetih i ne znam zašto ih čuvam, ali sam i iz njih povadila sve slike Skrebneskog, Herb Ritza i fotografa koje cenim sa Polinom Poriškovom i starim slikama Done Karan sa Rosemary kada sam bila u fazi modne umetničke fotografije i te slike su u fasciklama uredno organizovane.
    Jelo je prefino, ali božanstveno!

  2. What is it with tiny California apartments? Our linen closet is overrun by my kitchen gadgets because we have three cabinets in our kitchen. Three! No pantry. Not very much drawer space. It’s a good thing I don’t live Europe. We’d probably have dishes stacked in our living room :)

    PS: Mmmm, shrimp. Pasta. Mmmm. That is all :)

  3. Tamara says:

    This is really one delicious pasta!
    I don’t have a tendency to buy food magazines, but I have quite a large pile of cook books and a nasty habit of not using them and recipes in them. I always end up searching the Internet for the recipes.

  4. Anonymous says:

    I am your polar opposite – I write, I smudge, I rip out, I underline and I highlight in almost every book I own. It makes them “mine” it helps me remember what I thought was important. But I so understand where you are coming from – I am so glad you decided to cook from the magazine – this dish looks so delicious. Thanks so much for sharing this with us at the Hearth and Soul Hop!

  5. Allison says:

    What a great post. I really enjoy your writing. I have my collection of Everyday Food too… waiting on the shelf to be used. I read them cover to cover of course…but then to the shelf they go.

  6. Lemons and Anchovies says:

    I’m glad I’m not alone. I am very strict about my magazines-fashion and food. I very recently went through over ten years worth of subscriptions and dutifully clipped out recipes before bidding them adieu. I was happy to discover Martha Stewart magazines from 1999 and it was like reading the old issues again for the first time.

    This is a beautiful pasta dish–thanks for sharing with us. :-)

  7. Monet says:

    I am a sucker for the printed page too. I have so many magazines that I need to take off the shelf and start cooking with though! Thank you for sharing such a delicious recipe with us. The pasta looks and sounds amazing. And thank you for your kind words on my blog :-)

  8. SMITH BITES says:

    You would absolutely DIE if you saw my stacks of magazines and books Lana . . . I should take a photo and send to you. I subscribe (or buy) no less than 8 magazines each month scouring them for new recipes to try . . . and I am a cookbook collector who reads them like novels. But I will also say that my MIL volunteers at our local library so I can at least recycle my magazines, which my MIL says, fly off the shelves in a matter of minutes after placing them in the re-sale racks. I am happy to know that someone else can enjoy them too. This dish looks wonderful with the cilantro lime pesto – perfect for a mid-week dinner when time gets away during the day!

  9. Ruth says:

    Great post! I did the same thing with my magazines when we moved from Toronto to Halifax a number of years ago… and yet… the pile now continues. One of my favorite magazines to add to your list… fine Cooking.

    Thanks so much for sharing this particular pasta with Presto Pasta Nights. I used to still to basil pesto and now find myself exploring other options. This one is definitely on my list to try.

  10. I know how you feel about food magazine. When I first graduated from college, I received a Martha Stewart Living subscription and couldn’t bear to part with them for several years! Finally, I had to go through them, tear out recipes (and photos) I liked and condensed them down to a thin folder. Your pasta looks delicious!

  11. oystergirl says:

    Lana I am so laughing with you on this. I too would rather use space for books and magazines and then get mad when they all pile up and then I want to get rid of them, but they cry at me to please keep them! This recipe looks so light and delicious I know my husband would eat the whole platter leaving nothing for me! As for space, yes, it is all relative and we will always use up what we have if we have it! Thanks for sharing on the hearth and soul hop and big hugs! Alex

  12. I have the same problem with magazines. They are everywhere in my small apartment: on the bookshelves, the tables, even the floor. And like you, most are unread. I’m glad I’m not alone! Glad you got to cook from Bon Appetit’s RSVP section. The pasta looks delicious.

  13. There’s a reason that the recipes make it to print– they’re good! This one looks great, and I like that the homemade pesto was so easy to whip up. It looks exquisite.

  14. Tandy says:

    I also treat my books and magazines with respect and my heart broke when my step sons wrote in my recipe book ‘as a joke’. I really love the idea of the cilantro lime pesto and have a few ideas now to try :)

  15. Katerina says:

    It is true that size is very subjective and having lived in the States and currently living in Greece there are differences between US and Europe. I made also shrimps with pasta for PPN. I love the addition of cilantro and lime in yours!

  16. Lana Watkins says:

    @Jelena, slažem se sa tvojom strategijom. Imala sam nekoliko takvih svezaka, ali sam na kraju sve recepte ukucala u kompjuter, da mi budu na jednom mestu, a da ne zauzimaju fizički nimalo mesta. Sad nemam vremena da sednem i sve to uradim kako treba, jer se nagomilalo:)

    @Azmina, every apartment in Michigan and Ohio that I lived in was bigger than this one. Crazy, I know! We don’t even have a linen closet.

    @Tamara, imam i ja puno kuvara, a kupujem i nove (mada ne toliko često zato što nemam mesta:) Sad sam rešila da svakog meseca spremim bar po jedan recept iz časopisa i jedan iz kuvara. Videćemo da li ću istrajati.

    @Christy, we all have our little quirks. I see how making the magazines “yours” would help you remember what you liked.

    @Allison, I always decide to sit down with a cooking magazine as soon as… And that rarely happens. We need a bit of prodding to start using them:)

    @Jean, I used to do that from time to time, but now I find excuses every day:)

    @Monet, thanks for stopping by. I love your writing and visiting your site is a pleasure:)

    @Debra, I would be buried with 8 monthly magazines! I am very conservative with the cookbooks, but only because of the space. You are lucky that your MIL works in the library. Whenever I look at library sales, cooking magazines are nowhere to be found:)

    @Ruth, yes, Fine Cooking! I loved reading it a few years back. Love Presto pasta Nights!

    @Chunklet, parting with the magazines is hard. But if you are good and clip everything you like, it’s different. I should follow your suit:)

    @Alex, it is so true: there is never too much space! We managed to fill up the big house as well as this puny apartment:)

    @Jen, I am glad I am not alone, neither:) We might need a support group:)

    @Krista, thanks for stopping by! Yes, the cilantro pesto was done in mere seconds – even faster than regular basil pesto. And it was delicious:)

    @Tandy, I hope your stepson was really small when he did that: only small children should be forgiven for desecrating the books:)

    @Katerina, living in Greece, you know what I am talking about:) Americans are very spoiled (and I am no exception:) Love the header photo on your site!

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