Experiment: Steak with Lemon-Cumin Pesto

One morning, I returned home from shopping with a couple of nice, small steaks for supper. I didn’t have any particular plan in mind for cooking them but, as I was surfing some food blogs later that afternoon, I came across a lovely recipe by Jen over at The Scrumptious Pumpkin that she called ‘Grilled Sirloin with Lemon-Chive Pesto’. Now, Jen’s recipe is a lovely one, and I urge you to take a look, but I had no chives, nor pine nuts, to work with, as she did, and so I decided to substitute the chives with scallion greens and tweak the flavor a little with a little cumin…

The Ingredients

The main player in the meal is, of course, the steak, and I used two nice strip sirloins which I seasoned quite liberally with salt and pepper a good hour or so before grilling. Although some will prefer to trim the steak of all visible fat before cooking, I prefer to leave it on as it adds flavor. If you do the same, cut a couple of slashes through the strip along the edge to prevent the steak from curling as it cooks and make sure you rub some salt into it.

For the Pesto, you will need:

  • 1 bunch of parsley
  • The green portions of two scallions
  • 4 large cloves of Garlic
  • ½ tsp. Salt
  • ½ tsp. Cumin Seed
  • 2 tbsp. Lemon Juice
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil

The Method

First, toast the cumin seed in dry pan until it gives off a nice aroma and then grind it in a mortar. Next, trim the parsley of any extra large stalks and then chop it coarsely along with the scallion greens. Add the parsley, the scallion, the garlic cloves and the salt to your food processor and whizz it all up until everything is pulverized. Now add the olive oil in a thin stream with the processor running until you have a smooth mixture about the same thickness as canned tomato puree.

Now, turn the contents of the food processor into a bowl and stir in the olive oil. If necessary, add a little more olive oil until the pesto is of the same ‘pouring’ consistency as ketchup. You can do this part of the preparation somewhat in advance of cooking the steaks but you will be well advised not to let it sit for much more than thirty minutes or so as the acid in the lemon juice will darken the parsley and rob it of its nice green brightness.

When you are ready, prepare your grill and cook the steaks to your liking. At present, I still do not have a barbecue so I ‘grilled’ mine to medium rare in a ridged pan. Let the steaks rest for a good five minutes before serving and then plate, slicing them if you wish, and spoon the pesto attractively over the top.

The Verdict

As you can see, I served our steaks with some Zucchini slices that I marinated in a little olive seasoned with salt, pepper and thyme before grilling in the same pan I used for the steaks. Although not shown, my wife and I also had some buttered crusty bread along side.

The steaks were cooked just the way we liked them and the Pesto really turned out nicely. It had an earthiness to it but was also bright and slightly tangy at the same time. The cumin was only apparent in a few brief highlights but, even though I thought a little more might have been nice, my wife said the balance was just right. I liked it with the steak but I think it would be an excellent topping for salmon as well.


  1. This would be the perfect steak for dads this weekend on fathers day! Thanks for the great recipe.

  2. MMMMMMMMM,..;that pesto is looking good & tempting! I love that you didn’t use any cheese in there!

  3. I love the idea of pesto with a steak. Sometimes I find that steak sauce can overpower the flavor of the meat, and I think the pesto would be a perfect combo. Great idea!

  4. Thank you, but I’m afraid I can’t take credit for the basic idea.. I just tweaked an existing recipe.

  5. This looks wonderful. And the steak looks perfectly done. Yum! I like the inspired little hit of cumin in the pesto too.

    Good advice to slash the fatty edge of a steak to prevent it from curling. I do the same thing for pork chops.

    1. I think it could have used just a touch more cumin… my wife didn’t agree though.

  6. Very creative list of ingredients. I don’t think I’d have started with the parsley, yet it seems to have been a really good choice! Excellent! Debra

  7. This sounds absolutely delicious. Steak is on the menu this weekend – I will have to give this a try!

    1. Oh Thank you … I used the leftover Pesto for another little dish I’ll be posting soon…

  8. Wow, that looks fantastic! 🙂 Cumin is one of my favorite spices to combine and experiment with. Of course, I live in Phoenix so that particular spice (along with spicy ANYTHING really) is everywhere I look!

  9. This looks scrumptious! I love anything with pesto…and steak for that matter! 🙂

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