Cilantro is the bright green leaves of the coriander plant, the same plant that produces little seeds also called coriander. It has an unmistakable pungent fragrance and distinct flavor that lends itself to spiced foods from around the world. I learned to love it in Indian dishes I sampled in Bombay, Asian favorites in Honolulu, and TexMex recipes in Austin, Texas.
Cilantro is available year-round usually in bunches. The leaves should be green with no yellowing, browning or wilting. Store it in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to 7 days. Wash well and pat dry before using. Be sure to wash only as much as you will need.
Although cilantro can be used alongside of, or in place of parsley, and it is similar in appearance, one smell will tell you the difference! Cilantro can be an acquired taste for some, but the more you eat irresistible treats such as Black Bean and Cilantro Quesadillas, Salmon with Cilantro Pumpkin Seed Pesto and Cilantro Chutney, the more it grows on you. You’ll love it in sauces and salsas, spreads and dips, salads and dressings and as a garnish to a wide assortment of foods. Here are some ideas and recipes:
Grilled Squash with Cilantro-Pecan Pesto makes a wonderful side dish to grilled meats, fish, tofu or tempeh.
Add to salads of all sorts — vegetable, leafy green, bean, potato, egg, chicken or tuna. Carrot, Red Onion and Cilantro Salad is one of my favorites. Black Bean Salad with Avocado Lime Dressing is a mouthful of delicious tomatoes, lime and corn with avocado.
Fish and cilantro belong together. Red Snapper with Cilantro Butter is tasty and easy. (You’ll want to use that cilantro butter melted over other fish like salmon or halibut, or potatoes, yams and steamed vegetables too.) If you’re a lobster fan, be sure to try Baked Lobster with Cilantro-Orange Vinaigrette. Pineapple and Cilantro Baked Salmon combines pineapple juice, miso, cilantro, jalapeño peppers and spices to make a delicious and simple meal. Serve with rice or noodles and a green vegetable. Poached Halibut with Ginger and Cilantro is flavored with white wine, ginger and tamari.
Mash avocado with chopped chives and cilantro, sea salt and pepper. Use as a sandwich spread. Add cheese, turkey or hummus, if desired.
Try Avocado Salsa with Olives and Cilantro next time you serve chips, corn tortillas, baked potatoes or chili.
If you like the heat of chiles, our Spicy Tomato Salsa with Cilantro and Chiles will hit the spot.
Add cilantro to any favorite salsa recipe, and for fresh flavor, add chopped cilantro to pre-packaged or jarred salsa.
Chop and blend into bean dips, hummus, mayonnaise, salad dressings and more.
Do you cook with cilantro? Got a favorite recipe or a great idea? Let me know.