Cilantro

About:

If there is one culinary herb that I absolutely LOVE, it is cilantro, with its tender green leaves and pungent flavor. Nothing accents my favorite Mexican dishes quite the same! Cilantro does grow on the same plant as the coriander seed, though their tastes and uses are very different. Coriander seed reminds me more of Indian cuisine.

This wonderful herb has quite a colorful history and it's uses extend well beyond culinary delight. Ancient Greece used cilantro essential oil as a component of perfume. During medieval times, the Romans used cilantro to mask the smell of rotten meat. Today, it’s still used by naturopaths and has been the subject of many positive inquiries by formal research institutions.

Cilantro is most often cited as being effective for toxic metal cleansing and rightfully so, this herb is a powerful, natural cleansing agent. It also has strong antioxidant activity, helps lower the blood-sugar level and has been proven to have anti-anxiety effects.

How to Use:

You can use fresh herbs in innumerable ways for every type of dish: add them to marinades, throw them into salads, purée them into pesto and toss with pasta or vegetables, and use them to infuse oils or even flavor ice creams. To prepare, simply wash herbs under cold running water or agitate leafy herbs in a bowl/cup of cold water until the grit settles at the bottom of the bowl; pat dry with kitchen towels.

How to Store:

Remove any wilting or rotting leaves. Snip half an inch off the ends of your herbs and stand them upright in a jar filled with an inch or two of water. Cover the top of the jar with a perforated plastic bag and store it in your fridge.

Cilantro may also be frozen, either whole or chopped, in airtight containers, yet should not be thawed before use since it will lose much of its crisp texture. Alternatively, you can place it in ice cube trays covered with either water or stock that can be added when preparing soups or stews.

Recipes:

Cilantro Pesto

Fresh cilantro whipped into pesto with a little toasted almonds, cotija cheese and garlic. Perfect as a spread on toasted bread rounds or as topping for fish, chicken, steak... really the options are endless.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 bunches Fresh Cilantro, washed and patted dry
  • 1/2 cup {heaping} blanched, slivered Almonds
  • 3 tablespoons Cotija Cheese {or Parmesan}
  • 1 large Garlic Clove, smashed and peeled
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
  • Juice of 1 Lime
  • 1/2 cup Olive Oil

PROCEDURE:

In a small skillet add the almonds and toast until golden and fragrant over medium heat. Remove to a clean dish to cool.

In the bowl of your food processor add in a clove of garlic and the cooled, toasted almonds and pulse until coarsely chopped.

Add in the tops of the two bunches of cilantro, the cotija cheese, salt and the juice of a medium sized lime.

Pulse until coarsely ground. With the food processor running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil.

Remove and refrigerate until ready to use.

Cilantro & Ginger Hummus

Ingredients:

  • 1 can (15 ounces) chickpeas (you can use dry and cook your own too)
  • 1/2 cup tahini
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  • 1/4 cup cilantro
  • juice from 1/2 a lemon
  • 1/4 cup water (or reserve the chickpea cooking water if you use dry beans)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt

Procedure:

In a food processor blend the chickpeas until they are a coarse grain. Now add the tahini, garlic, ginger, lemon juice, cilantro and salt. Blend for a full minute or two. Now with the processor still running drizzle in the oil and then the water. For an even smoother, thinner consistency add more water. 

This recipe was inspired by a lunch one summer day, served with some toasted naan. It would also be great on crackers, veggies or spread on a sandwich. Happy hummus making!

 

Chickpea and Lentil Salad with Feta, Cilantro, and Onions

FOR THE COOKED LENTILS:

  • 2 cups lentils
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 sprig sage
  • 1 red chile
  • Salt, to taste

FOR THE SALAD:

  • 2 cans good quality cooked chickpeas, rinsed
  • 2 cups cooked lentils (see step 1)
  • 1 tbsp. toasted ground cumin
  • Maldon salt, to taste
  • 3 tbsp. tahini
  • 3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 fresh lemon, juiced
  • 1 bunch picked cilantro
  • 1 medium red onion sliced thin
  • 4 ounces goat milk feta

1. For the lentils: Rinse lentils, place in just enough cold water to cover, and cook evenly, stirring occasionally. Add garlic, sage, and red chile. Cook until just tender; do not boil. Cool in liquid and then season with salt. 

2. For the salad: Combine rinsed chickpeas, Cooked Lentils, cumin, salt, tahini, olive oil, and half of the lemon juice. Toss gently, being careful not to crush chickpeas and making sure not to remove skins.

3. In a separate bowl, combine cilantro and sliced red onion. Dress with remaining fresh lemon juice, salt, and olive oil.

4. Present lentils and chickpeas in a bowl topped with cilantro and onion mixture. Sprinkle with crumbled feta and drizzle with olive oil to serve. 

SERVES 4