Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Celebrating Cilantro

Cilantro is an herb with a refreshing, cool flavor that serves as the perfect accompaniment to the hot flavors found in many Mexican and Indian dishes. The leaves and the stems are equally pungent and useful for cooking, but this herb must always be used fresh. Cilantro loses all its flavor when it dries. It's leaves are similar in shape and color to flat leaf Parsley, but the flavors and scents are worlds apart. Parsley is no substitute for Cilantro. This herb is so distinctive in flavor, that it is either loved or detested. (Oddly enough, those who dislike Cilantro agree universally that it tastes like "dish soap.") Personally, I love it. But I detest the spice that is the seed to this otherwise delightful plant, Coriander.

Here are few simple recipes using Cilantro...

World's Best Simple Salsa

2 cans Delmonte or Contadina petite diced tomato
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Handful bunch of Cilantro, chopped fine
1-2 Jalapeno peppers (depending how hot you want your salsa), minced
1 Tbs. minced Vidalia onion
dash of salt
lemon juice to taste

Empty tomato into a medium sized bowl. Add all other ingredients. Stir well. Serve with your favorite tortilla chips. I've made this salsa mild, medium, and hot. The hottest is when you release the most juices from the peppers by crushing them slightly when you mince them.

Corn Cilantro Salad

2 Cans of corn, drained
1 Handful bunch Cilantro, chopped fine
1 Can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 Red lipstick pepper
1/4 Sweet red onion, chopped fine
2 Tbs. vinegar (I use sushi vinegar, but any white or blush vinegar would do)
1 Tbs. light salad oil
salt and pepper to taste

Mix corn, beans, pepper and onion in a medium bowl. Add Cilantro and mix. Mix vinegar with oil and drizzle over all. Mix and add salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy this colorful dish!

Cilantro Salmon with Lime

1 Fresh fillet wild caught Salmon
1 Bunch Cilantro
1 Clove garlic, minced
1 Lime
salt and pepper to taste

Salmon is a rich and oily fish so I never add oil to it when cooking. Rub garlic on fillet and add salt and pepper. Cover with generous amounts of chopped Cilantro. Slice lime into thin circles and place several on top of Cilantro. Squeeze remaining lime onto fish. Grill the fish to cook or bake at 350 for 40 minutes or until flaky.

* * * * * * *

Jean's Pesto (up from the combox)

Cilantro makes a delicious pesto too!
Grind in a food processor
2 cups cilantro leaves
1/2 c pine nuts
2 cloves garlic (or to taste)
1/2 a seeded jalepeno (or not)
1/4 olive oil

Blend to make a paste and add a squeeze of lemon or lime juice and kosher salt to preserve color and flavor.
This recipe adapts well to substitutes and add-ins like walnuts, feta cheese and other oils and it freezes well!
This can be used on pasta, as a meat seasoning or any other use you like for pesto. My mom even swirls it into freash baked bread and it is really tasty!

Cilantro Martini

Similar to the refreshing Mojito which uses rum and mint, the Cilantro Martini uses vodka, Cilantro, and Lemongrass.

Simply mix your favorite brand vodka with some chopped Cilantro and Lemongrass and, if you are so inclined, add a tiny bit of fresh ginger root minced well. Shake over ice and serve.

Jill's Easy Salsa

1/2 cup thick and chunky salsa
1/2 cup black beans, rinsed and drained
2 tablespoons of chopped red onion
2 tablespoons of chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon lime juice
1/2 teaspoon of chili powder

It makes a great topper for steaks. We don't make steaks too often, so we
use it on chicken or with some chips!


Do you have a great Cilantro recipe? Care to share? Email it to me. suzanne.templespam@gmail.com (just scrape off the spam)

8 comments:

~m2~ said...

cilantro is one of those herbs there is no middle ground for - you either love it or, eh, not so much.

i am in the *love* category - have you tried the first salsa recipe with fresh tomatoes? i would take a whole tomato, squeeze out as much of the seeds in one squeeze as you can (don't mangle the mater, m'kay?) and then dice. fresh is yummy, especially here in Jersey in the summer time...

however, i love all of these recipes and will be happy to try them all this summer. i have also added fresh to jarred pico de gayo (when in a pinch, it's by Goya) and chopping cilantro finely into mayo for a sandwich spread is pretty yummy to - say for grilled chicken sandwiches, topped with cheddar cheese and salsa....ummmm....

i'm hungry now.

Suzanne Temple said...

You've made me hungry, too, m2. I am certain fresh is delish! I will give up the convenience of canned tomato and try it with fresh garden tomatoes at least once this summer.

Love the idea of cilantro in mayo, too.

Mary Poppins NOT said...

I have a gi-normous cilantro section in my garden and I need to so something with it all. Thanks for the inspiration!

Kristen Laurence said...

Yum, yum, yum! I have a wonderful cilantro recipe. I'll post it later today if I can.

noranuge said...

Suzanne,
Where did you get the drink recipe? Sounds really good, as do the others. We are big fans of cilantro too. We'll have some to use soon...the leaves are sprouting now!

PS- Kristen, we had chicken with prosciutto and sage tonight, very tasty and easy. And I'm trying out the tarragon-orange sauce tomorrow!

scmom said...

Thanks Suzanne - I too love cilantro. If only I could get it to grow in my garden. It's a toughy.

Jean said...

Cilantro makes a delicious pesto too!
Grind in a food processor
2 cups cilantro leaves
1/2 c pine nuts
2 cloves garlic (or to taste)
1/2 a seeded jalepeno (or not)
1/4 olive oil

Blend to make a paste and add a squeeze of lemon or lime juice and kosher salt to preserve color and flavor.
This recipe adapts well to substitutes and add-ins like walnuts, feta cheese and other oils and it freezes well!
This can be used on pasta, as a meat seasoning or any other use you like for pesto. My mom even swirls it into freash baked bread and it is really tasty!

Anne (aussieannie) said...

What a lovely...delicious blog!

Cilantro is the only known herb that can remove mercury from the brain (pulling it across the delicate blood/brain barrier.)

This is why they say your should not cook with cilantro in aluminium cookware, it will draw the aluminium out of it into your food!

Maybe those who detest it enough to 'rant and rave' about it have suffered the possible unpleasant side-effects of this phenomena?

Actually if you are very poisoned, this removal has to be done carefully and the mercury can be 're-absorbed.' Maybe these mad cilantro despisers are a similar bunch to the ancient, "mad hatters"?!

A unique herb it is...