Cilantro Chili Pizza

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Cilantro Chili PizzaWeary and tired, Sweets and I dragged our jet-lagged bodies into our rental car, and headed up the coast line to Hilo to eat up time before we could collapse in the vacation house we had rented. The ten hour flight did not lend itself to a full night’s sleep, which only contributed to us feeling a bit more out of our element than usual.

My job as navigator proved to be challenging as well,
“Umm… take a left at this next K-street”.
“K- street? Can you sound it out?”
“No…” I whined not sure what to make my mouth do with all the vowels., “Kam-ah…” in my head whirled the bad Hawaiian joke seen on t-shirts in high school: Kam-on-a-wana-lai-u?

Magically our car was pulled in the direction of good food and we found ourselves at Cafe Pesto. In an unexpected fit of nostalgia we giggled at the appearance of Oregon Chai on the menu and ordered iced sweet chai and a Southwestern pizza. What came to us from that kitchen is one of the best pizzas I have ever tasted…tangy chipotle chicken on a bed of garlicy cilantro pesto, and topped with red onion rings, smooth creamy goat cheese crumbles and sweet chili sauce. We swooned, finishing off every slice, licking the sweet vinegar sauce off of our fingers.

This flavor combination of cilantro pesto and sweet chili sauce has become a cult favorite in our house ever since…

Cilantro Chili Pizza, ala Cafe Pesto

Preheat the oven to 500F, preferable with a pizza stone on the middle shelf. Allow the oven to heat 30 minutes or more.

Meanwhile, prep your favorite pizza dough. If using refrigerated pizza dough, allow it to come to room temperature before shaping. Preparation of the pesto and chili sauces can be accomplished in the time it takes for the pizza dough to rest:
Cilantro Pesto

   This recipe makes more pesto than needed for pizza. Use the leftovers as a marinade for grilling, or go crazy making this pizza for all of your friends.

 In a food processor or blender combine:

  • 1/2 cup peeled garlic cloves
  • 1 cup of cilantro leaves, stems and roots
  • 1 Tbs of ground pepper
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • with enough canola or olive oil to help grind the ingredients into a paste

 Store in the refrigerator or freezer with a slight film of oil on the pesto surface to help maintain the bright green color.
Sweet Hot Garlic Sauce

   This is my number one favorite ingredient, to always be found in my refrigerator. It is excellent paired with fried crispy foods, grilled meats, drizzled on curries, and on top of this pizza. Fortunately this tasty sauce is becoming increasingly common in grocery stores, often called Nahm Jeem Gratiem, or Tuong Ot Ngot.

 In a sauce pan combine

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup vinegar
  • 2 Tbs minced garlic
  • 1 tsp salt

 Bring to a boil and reduce the heat to low, simmering to reduce and thicken to a syrupy sauce approximately 20 minutes or more. When thickened, stir in 1 Tbs of chili garlic sauce and allow to cool to room temperture. Store in the refrigerator.
Cilantro Chili PizzaShape your pizza dough in the size you want, stretching it out thin with your fingers and hands. Place it on a piece of waxed paper, trimmed to match the foot print of the pizza dough shape and transfer the dough to a pizza peel for easy sliding onto the pizza stone.

Spread several tablespoons of the cilantro pesto on the surface of the dough. Sprinkle with a slight pinch of salt. Continue to top the pizza with chopped sundried tomatoes,red onion slices and chopped red bell pepper.

Slide the pizza onto your hot pizza stone and cook until the bottom is crusty brown, approximately 5-8 minutes.

Immediately top the pizza with crumbled goat cheese upon removing it from the oven. And lastly, the most important step, drizzle the pizza with Sweet Hot Garlic Sauce.

This pizza is also excellent topped with any grilled meat or seafood. If the goat cheese is omited this is a very tasty vegan meal.



posted April 25th, 2005 at 5:28 am

First faux ipods, now tonight’s dinner! Sweet Hot Garlic Sauce is making my mouth water, going forward I envision it will have many a use in Katheland. I really look forward to trying this one.

I was in hysterics when I saw that you had found and replied to my livejournal. What a wonderful beginning to another Monday. ;)

Thank you for commenting!
Kathe Anne
Holabird Sports

- kathe anne (going4grandeur)
posted April 26th, 2005 at 4:26 pm

Wow, what a great recipe! There’s so many variants that you could do with this one if you wanted to have it a little bit different every night…LOL! A pinch of fresh ginger, for example, would give your sweet hot garlic sauce an interesting twist. Now if I only had a pizza stone….

- Joe Levinson
posted April 27th, 2005 at 2:34 am

Hey, what a coincidence! Let me second your opinion that this is the best pizza ever created, bar none. While honeymooning on the big island last year, we had the good fortune to stumble into Cafe Pesto and we ordered this exact same pizza – spicy chicken, cilantro pesto, goat cheese – and we almost collapsed from pleasure at the table, it was so good. We’ve been dreaming about it ever since. Thanks for the recipe – I’m going out to buy the ingredients right now!

- Melissa
posted April 27th, 2005 at 3:00 pm

Very cool coincidence Melissa… what a small world :)

- mcauliflower
posted April 28th, 2005 at 8:56 am

Ooooooo, I just returned to your site. I think I like this Pizza recipe better! I have to make dinner for a friend next week as he returns from knee surgery. This might be just the right thing!
Now I am craving pizza at 9:55am

- lynne
posted April 28th, 2005 at 3:04 pm

While the Zucchini lemon pizza is good… its flavor comes through more quietly than this one. For a friend out of surgery? This cilantro pizza’s flavor will cut through the fog of pain meds!

posted May 10th, 2005 at 11:55 am

Yumm~ made it for lunch today! Perfect!

- Ü
posted May 3rd, 2007 at 8:17 pm

This indeed looks quite tasty. I’ll have to give it a whirl this weekend! I enjoy reading your entries.

~Bea–working to help women reclaim their dignity and dollars!

- Bea
posted July 22nd, 2007 at 5:29 am

I stumbled upon this pizza recipe while surfing the net for a cilantro pizza idea earlier this spring. My entire family loves cilantro beyond belief. After wiping up the drool left while perusing the recipe, I forwarded it on to my family and a few friends. Every single person I sent it to has made the pizza but me. Alas, today, I will join them in relishing the love of (as I am told) a truly amazing pizza. Thanks for posting it!

Oh so good to hear Jen!

I should have included with this recipe the warning about the obsessive phase that accompanies this flavor combination- it’s addicting!



- Jen
posted October 19th, 2007 at 6:05 am

My Husband & I absolutely Love Cafe Pestos and have been there many times…just thinking about it makes us homesick for HI. Our favorite is the Lokelani. You have got to try it if you ever get back. Wish i had the Recipe for that one. It is to ‘die for’
glad you enjoyed HI!! Our favorite vacation

- Peter & Dawn
posted February 6th, 2008 at 12:42 am

Mmmm, that looks tasty. I’ll give it a whirl at the weekend.

- Jade
posted February 20th, 2008 at 10:58 am

[...] dying to try this Cilantro Pesto Pizza with Sweet Garlic Sauce (Yum!) From Brownie Points. McAuliflower suggests that this would make an excellent vegan pizza if [...]

- vanesscipes > » Vegan Caramelized Onion Pizza
posted July 5th, 2008 at 8:00 pm

[...] swirl of Sweet Hot Garlic Sauce is more than [...]

posted August 27th, 2008 at 7:14 pm

[...] the Best Pizza Dough Ever. My favorite farmgirl has recipe for a Tomato Pesto Pizza. You can find a Cilantro Chili Pizza at Brownie Points. And Paris-based David Lebovitz has the very unusual Cocoa Nib and Spiced Lamb [...]

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posted March 12th, 2013 at 1:33 pm

Where do you get the chili garlic sauce? Is there a brand we can look for in the stores?

- Jeanne Ling
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