Savory Cilantro

Savory Cilantro
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Cilantro is a cool weather herb if you grow it as cilantro instead of coriander, which is harvested for the seeds.Cilantro is actually the leaves of coriander. Growing it as cilantro you will be able to harvest as soon as 40-50 days after planting the seeds. Cilantro is successfully grown where the summers are dry, and not humid. The seeds are planted after the danger of frost has passed.It doesn't transplant well, so sow the seed where you want it to grow. You'll want to harvest when the plant is 4-6 inches tall. You can either cut leaves as needed or pull the entire plant and use the roots in soup. When the plant "bolts" or starts to flower it becomes bitter and is no longer is used as cilantro. It will take about 120 days until the coriander seed matures. You can plant more cilantro every 7-10 days to keep a steady supply. In the heat of the summer, especially in hot climates, it won't do as well. It's a good spring/fall herb to grow and will withstand temperatures down to 10 degrees.
Cilantro does not dry well. It should be used fresh or you can freeze it if need be. Small resealable bags would work well for this. To store fresh you can wash it by the bunch and spread on a paper towel. Gently blot with another paper towel and allow it dry for about ten minutes or until the moisture evaporates. Then wrap the cilantro in a paper towel and place it in a plastic bag or in a plastic covered container. Refrigerated, it will stay fresh about a week.

It is the perfect herb to use in any salsa recipe. If you are using canned ingredients, cilantro will add a fresh taste to your salsa. Adding it chopped to a chicken and rice dish while cooking will add new flavor to the recipe. Use small amounts when experimenting because it does have a strong, unique flavor. Once you try cilantro you will be looking for ways to use it in your cooking!

For a quick off season salsa add about 2 tablespoons of chopped cilantro to a 15 ounce can of diced tomatoes with peppers. You can stir it in and allow it to chill for a few hours to blend flavors, or place it in a blender to puree the tomatoes slightly. Use the salsa with tortillas chips, on grilled chicken or any dish with a Mexican flavor. The cilantro adds a fresh flavor to canned ingredients.

The following recipes use cilantro and will give you an idea of how to use it in different dishes:

Garbanzo Corn Salad


12 ounces fresh or frozen corn
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 Jalapeno or other hot peppers, grilled, peeled and chopped
1 medium sweet onion, chopped
8 tomatillos, chopped
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/2 Teaspoon black pepper
1 red or green bell pepper, chopped
1 16 ounce can Garbanzo Beans
1 cup chopped cilantro

Sauté corn in the olive oil for 5 minutes. Add hot pepper, onions, tomatillos and vinegar to corn and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and add the black pepper, red bell pepper and garbanzo beans. Chill at least 4 hours. Add minced cilantro just before serving.

Cilantro Lime Yogurt Dressing


1 cup plain nonfat or lowfat yogurt
1 tablespoon minced fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon minced green onions
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
salt to taste

In a small bowl, combine the yogurt, cilantro, onions, and lime juice. Add salt to taste. Set aside for at least an hour to allow flavors to blend.

Fresh Green Bean Salad


1 pound fresh green beans, ends trimmed
2-3 tbsp. red wine or herb vinegar
3-4 tbsp. olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1/2 cup cilantro, coarsely chopped

Place the beans in enough water to cover and cook for about 10-12 minutes, covered, until the beans are tender but al dente. Remove and place in a serving bowl. Whisk together olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. Toss the beans with the cilantro and dressing. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Cilantro Lime Mayonnaise


1 cup light or regular mayonnaise
1/4 cup lime juice
8 sprigs cilantro
1 teaspoon ground chili powder (or more)

Blend all ingredients in a blender and serve with sandwiches.

Potatoes with Cilantro


8 to 10 small red potatoes, unpeeled and quartered
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp. chili powder
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Place potatoes in medium saucepan; add just enough water to cover. Bring to a boil. Lower heat and cook for about 10 minutes or just until tender. Drain. In the same saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add garlic; cook and stir 2 to 3 minutes or until tender. Add potatoes, chili powder and cilantro. Season with salt and pepper. Toss to coat.

Spicy Cheese and Herb Spread

2 (8 oz) packages cream cheese
4 ounces soft goat cheese
1/2 cup loosely packed cilantro, chopped fine
1 two inch long jalapeno, seeded and minced
1 tsp. minced garlic
3/4 tsp. each cumin and paprika
Garnish: thyme or parsley

Mix all items except garnish in a large bowl until blended. Place in decorative bowl. Cover with plastic wrap for at least 24 hours. Up to three hours before serving. Serve with baby carrots,green pepper, and crackers. Note: You can use all cream cheese if you can't get the goats cheese-or Farmer's cheese.

Fresh Tomato-Pineapple Salsa


4 cups diced tomatoes
1 cup finely diced pineapple
1 cup sliced green onions
1 whole jalapeno chile, seeded and chopped finely
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 cloves garlic, chopped finely
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

Combine all ingredients and mix gently. Serve salsa with grilled fish or chicken. Also makes a great dip for fresh tortilla chips or pita chips.

More Fresh Salsa Recipes HERE


About The Author

Brenda Hyde is a freelance writer living on ten acres in rural Michigan with her husband and three kids. She is a mom, grandma, gardener, cook and writer. She blogs on all of these topics at


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