I used to dislike cilantro; it’s vaguely reminiscent of gym socks. That was, until I started growing it.
Now that I grow it, I see the difference between the store bought stuff (soapy and bland) and the green herb that comes from the garden (vibrant and stimulating). I wish I could share the fragrance with you, but, alas, that option isn’t yet available on my computer. Cilantro is a great leafy herb for Mexican food, adding a spicy citrusy kick. And, it’s a speedy grower in the garden.
Last year, I started growing cilantro to put in my salsa and in my guacamole (I suffer from “guacarexia”- the desire to obtain all of one’s calories from avocadoes). At the end on the year, the plant went to seed and, much to my pleasure, replanted itself all over the garden.
Cilantro is a member of the carrot family, and is sometimes referred to as Chinese Parsley or Coriander. The seeds, stems, and leaves are all edible, and the dried seeds are what you commonly find in the spice aisle of the grocery store.
Besides being tasty, cilantro helps aid in digestion and helps to prevent nausea. Coriander seed is considered to have cholesterol-lowering properties. And, a study in the Journal of Agricultural Chemistry found that Cilantro’s essential oils kill salmonella and E.coli. So, sprinkle some cilantro on your chicken or beef when you marinate it to kill off those unwanted yuckies!
In addition to throwing a handful of cilantro into your salsa or your guacamole, here are some cilantro recipes:
Cilantro Avocado Dressing
¼ cup light mayonnaise
¼ cup green onions, chopped
½ cup reduced-fat sour cream
1 tablespoon flat-leaf parsley, chopped
¼ cup cilantro leaves
1/8 teaspoon salt
pinch freshly ground black pepper
½ ripe peeled avocado
1 garlic clove, minced
2-4 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
3 drops hot sauce
Combine first 9 ingredients (mayonnaise through garlic) in a food processor; process until smooth. With the processor running, pour water, vinegar, and hot sauce through food chute, processing until blended- watching the consistency of the dressing and adding more water to reach desired consistency. Taste for salt, pepper, and hot sauce. Store the dressing in an airtight container in refrigerator.
2 cups, packed, cilantro
½ cup blanched almonds or pumpkin seeds
¼ cup red onion, coarsely chopped
½ teaspoon Serrano chile, chopped and seeded
½ teaspoon salt
¼ cup olive oil
In a food processor, pulse the cilantro, almonds, onion, chile, and salt until well blended. With the food processor running, slowly add the olive oil in a steady stream. Add more oil as needed for your use.
If you aren’t serving the pesto immediately, refrigerate it for up to two days or freeze for up to two months. Serve it traditionally over pasta or use it as a dip for toasted pita chips.