Linguine with Cilantro Pesto and Chile Calamari

  • Level: Intermediate
  • Total: 35 min
  • Active: 35 min
  • Yield: 4 servings
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Cilantro Pesto:

50 grams/2 ounces fresh cilantro, rinsed, thicker stalks removed

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons pine nuts or raw almonds

1/2 teaspoon sugar

1/2 green chile, seeded, optional 

1 clove garlic

Juice of 1 lemon 

Kosher salt


400 grams/14 ounces linguine or spaghetti

500 grams/18 ounces calamari rings 

1/2 to 1 teaspoon dried chile flakes 

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper 

6 tablespoons olive oil, plus for drizzling

Squeeze fresh lemon juice 

Handful fresh cilantro, for garnish


  1. For the cilantro pesto: In a food processor, combine the cilantro, olive oil, pine nuts, sugar, chile if using, garlic and lemon juice. Process to a paste. Season with salt and loosen with a little olive oil or hot water if necessary. Set aside.
  2. For the linguine: Cook the pasta according to package instructions; drain and set aside.
  3. Rinse the calamari rings, then transfer to paper-towel-lined plate and dry well. The drier the squid, the crispier the end result. Sprinkle with the chile flakes and a generous pinch salt and pepper.
  4. Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan or wok over high heat. When really hot, add the calamari; fry until lightly golden and crispy, 3 to 4 minutes.
  5. Add the drained pasta and 3 or 4 tablespoons pesto to the calamari; toss together.
  6. Serve immediately in warmed bowls drizzled with lemon juice and olive oil and garnished with cilantro.