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rainbowgardener
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cilantro - what to do with it

I always try to grow something I've never grown before. This year one of them was cilantro. So now I have a bunch of big, thriving, bushy cilantro plants (started from seed). But I've never grown or used cilantro before, and honestly I don't really like it, when I taste it in recipes. (So why did I grow it? Just because I never have before. :) ) So what do I do with this stuff? Start with the basics, like should the leaves be dried like other herbs?
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Rairdog
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Re: cilantro - what to do with it

I use it for the coriander seed and really don't like the taste of the leaves in salsa. It is bad at reseeding and will pop up all over the garden next year. I try and put it on the edge and force it to lean out over the grass. It's the only volunteer that gets on my nerves.

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digitS'
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Re: cilantro - what to do with it

Oh my! Did you want responses from people who don't like cilantro - might drive you to never feel the need to grow it again, RG?

I don't really feel the need to defend the plant. I even get the idea that some folks say it tastes like soap. I get it, just don't want to dwell on it . . . who was it who came up with the list of fragrances that are appropriate for soap, anyway?

First off, I think it is a remarkable thing that the flavor of the seeds are so much different from the flavor of the leaves! Pronounced too, quite a show-off, that little ferny plant is.

Cilantro must have been right up near the top of the reasons why I always felt happy and hungry upon entering a Mexican restaurant when I was a kid. When I finally identified the plant, it was in noodle soup. Just as you might add some chopped green onions, bean sprouts, maybe some basil or mint -- try some fresh cilantro. You can use a Vietnamese pho recipe but even just hot broth with some cilantro will give you an idea for its use as a soup herb.

:) Steve
whose overwintered, volunteer cilantro will be the best of season./i]
We are each other's harvest; we are each other's business; we are each other's magnitude and bond. ~ Gwendolyn Brooks

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rainbowgardener
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Re: cilantro - what to do with it

Thanks digitS and thanks marling for letting me know it doesn't dry well. That would have been my first instinct for what to do with an herb.

That seems to make it even harder to use, if it has to be fresh. All the things I would typically use cilantro for (mainly guacamole and salsa) have tomatoes in them. But I think the cilantro will be gone before I have ripe tomatoes.

But I'm glad to be reminded that the seed is coriander. I had forgotten that. I do use coriander a lot, in curries as well as Latin foods, so that will be nice to have.

And cilantro is on the lists of plants to attract beneficial insects...
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applestar
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Re: cilantro - what to do with it

I love cilantro :()

Salsa and Pico de Gallo of course. Anything least bit "Mexican" -- tacos, quesadillas... local Mexican restaurant has a house specialty chicken corn chowder with melted cheese and sour cream that I always order. So I replicated the recipe and that gets a generous sprinkle of cilantro. I add to chili and sandwich. Almost anything with tomatoes or avocados or mangoes. I occasionally experiment and did stumble onto how it goes well with things like curry and southeast Asian dishes.

I am entirely lazy so I just wash, spin, and cut stalks into lengths that fit gallon size ziplock and individual leaves in quart size zip lock and freeze. The fronds in the quart size bags are for company and others because there are no hard stalks and bits. The gallon size bag is for me because I use it a lot and I don't mind fishing/spitting out the brittle leaf stems and bits of stalk. I just gently crumble the frozen leaves from the outside of the bag, then pour or spoon or grab the tiny pieces. Eventually, all the leaves fall off the stalks and I can pull the stalks out, then the frozen leaves get transferred to a smaller bags. Lasts all winter though you end up with some ice crystals in the bag and flavor does to down somewhat by next spring. As soon as new harvest is available, the remainder gets chucked into the compost :twisted:

When there are too many volunteers, I just cut them down and use as mulch. Breaks right down in no time. And of course save some bolting flowers for the beneficial insects, and seed heads to harvest for coriander.
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grrlgeek
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Re: cilantro - what to do with it

Chutney. If you like Indian food, then try making some chutney. It goes with everything. It's required on potato dishes, samosas, and pakora around here. Also wonderful on naan, just fork little bits onto each bite. I use about a grocery-store sized bunch for every batch, more or less, but I prefer to use less stem. You can stretch it further if you chop down further on the stalks. You can can it also, but I don't know how to do that (yet). I've never tried to freeze it.

Here's a couple of recipes. I've made them all, all are tasty. I do something different every time!

Cilantro (Green) Chutney
credit to Mridula Baljekar from Curry Bible

1-1/2 tsp lemon juice
1-1/2 tsp water
small bunch of fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped
2 tbsp shredded coconut
1 small shallot, finely chopped
1/4 inch fresh ginger, finely chopped
1 small fresh green chilli
1/2 tsp sugar or jaggery
pinch of salt
pinch of pepper

Put lemon juice and water and half of the cilantro in blender and puree to a slushy paste. Gradually add remaining cilantro until all blended to a paste. Add remaining ingredients and blend. Store in non-metallic bowl. Keeps about 3 days in the fridge.

Add to plain yogurt to make cilantro raita.


Fresh Green Chutney
credit to Madhur Jaffrey from Quick and Easy Indian Cooking

6 tbsp plain yogurt
2 heaping tbsp coarsely chopped mint
2 heaping tbsp coarsely chopped cilantro
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
pinch of salt

Put 2 tbsp of yogurt and remaining ingredients in blender and blend until smooth paste. In a separate non-metallic bowl, whip the remaining yogurt and then fold in the paste from the blender. Keeps in fridge 2-3 days.

(obviously, I multiply the leaf ingredients a LOT! - and I don't use the salt or keep it to just a pinch no matter how much I make. the lemon juice is there to get the ingredients moving in the blender. You can add a lot more leaves and just a drizzle more juice.)


Coriander Chutney
credit to Mridula Baljekar from Best-Ever Curry Cookbook

2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 dried red chilli
1/4 tsp each: cumin, fennel, onion seeds
4 curry leaves
4 oz dry unsweetened shredded coconut
2 tsp sugar
3 fresh green chillis, chopped
big bunch of cilantro, coarsely chopped
4 heaping tbsp mint, coarsely chopped (or 4 tbsp mint sauce)
juice of 3 lemons
pinch of salt

Heat the oil and fry the red chilli, seeds, curry leaves, coconut, and sugar until the coconut turns golden. Set aside to cool, then, use a mortar and pestle to grind the spice mixture with the green chillies, coriander and mint. Stir in the lemon juice. Transfer to sterilized jar and chill. (I just put it in a tupperware).



================
There have got to be a zillion recipes on the allrecipes and similar sites. Sometimes I look up a new one, sometimes I just stuff whatever sounds good in the blender. Rarely disappointed!


Also - chopped cilantro, onion, and tomato. On anything Mexican, and it's extra yummy as a garnish on black beans and yellow rice.
Zone - USDA 8b / Sunset 11

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grrlgeek
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Re: cilantro - what to do with it

applestar wrote:I love cilantro :()
I am entirely lazy so I just wash, spin, and cut stalks into lengths that fit gallon size ziplock and individual leaves in quart size zip lock and freeze.
It never occurred to me to do that! I have a few pots of it on the window sill all the time, but there's never enough. Now that it's out in my garden and there will be lots more, you've given me the key to ensuring a continual supply! Thank you!
Zone - USDA 8b / Sunset 11

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ElizabethB
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Re: cilantro - what to do with it

Use it in a vinaigrette.

3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1 tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 tbsp. minced fresh cilantro

Like it in black bean soup or chicken taco soup, salsa, pica de gallo, nachos, quesadilla. In addition to Mexican dishes I like it in south west dishes.
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rainbowgardener
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Re: cilantro - what to do with it

great ideas! thanks everybody!
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