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A distant cousin of pesto but more similar to pistou, zoug is an herb sauce traditionally made from fresh basil, garlic, and olive oil. This one takes a decidedly Middle Eastern spin with cilantro, garlic, cumin, and cardamom. Its bright-green beauty is stunning alongside the deep-red tomato and pepper hues of summer. Smear it into tacos with scrambled eggs, spoon onto a salad of cucumbers and tomatoes, or mix into plain Greek yogurt for a tangy summer dip.

Course: Sauce
Keyword: basil, condiment, garlic, sauce
Servings: 1 hefty cup
Author: Kala Riddle


  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 2 bunches fresh cilantro tender stems and leaves
  • 2 jalapenos seeded and chopped
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • ¾ teaspoon cumin seeds toasted and ground
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • ¾ cup extra virgin olive oil


  • Pulse the garlic in a food processor or high-speed blender until broken up. Add the cilantro, jalapeno, sea salt, cardamom, cumin, and red pepper flakes. Blend until everything is cohesive and finely chopped. With the motor running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil until creamy. Scoop into a bowl and let sit for at least an hour for the flavors to mingle and settle. Taste again and adjust as necessary, adding more red pepper flakes to make it spicier, more cumin for earthiness, or additional salt if you can’t quite put your finger on what it needs.


  • Hummus: mix into plain hummus and scoop up with bell pepper points
  • Handhelds: use as a spread for sandwiches, wraps, tacos, or burgers
  • Grilled Vegetables: spoon over grilled summer veggies for a light dinner
  • Grain Bowls: thin with a bit of water and use as a sauce for bowls with grains and veggies
  • Eggs: serve poached, fried, or scrambled eggs with a drizzle of zoug.