8 Jul 2006

Spicy Cilantro

Cilantro the plant has been known since 5000 BC and no-one is sure of it's exact origin. The leaves are generally called cilantro or Chinese parsley, and it's seeds are called coriander.

Seeds must be planted directly in the garden or a container in a position where you require them to grow as they cannot be transplanted easily. Plant in a full sun position. If planting in a container choose a deep pot as they have long tap roots. Water regularly. The leaves can be harvested about 45 days after planting. The seeds can be collected when they turn brown. Most supermarkets and Chinese greengrocers keep cilantro if you are not growing it yourself.

Nutritionally they are a good source of thiamin, zinc, vitamins A, C, E, K and B6, riboflavin, niacin, folate, pantothenic acid, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, copper and manganese.

Cilantro has amazing health properties. Researchers have found that it can assist with clearing the body of lead, aluminium and mercury and has been known for centuries for the relief of anxiety and insomnia. Plus it also has an anti-bacterial action against E-Coli. In Ayurvedic medicine is popular as it is a cooling herb and puts out excess flames in the stomach and generally enhances the digestion without aggravating Pitta dosha.

Cilantro leaves are best used fresh or frozen as they do not dry well. Will keep fresh in a refrigerator for up to 5 days. If cooking add at the last minute as they do not retain their flavor if cooked too long.

Excellent in salsas and spicy dishes and used in many Mexican, Latin America and Asian dishes. Cilantro is a tasty and nutritious addition carrot juice but use sparingly when juicing as it has a very strong flavor.

Recipes of the Day

Cilantro Chutney
AyrrBalance - Ayurvedic Recipes

1 cup packed cilantro leaves and soft stems
6-8 almonds, soaked in hot water and blanched
4 walnuts, soaked in warm water for 30 minutes
4 tbsps cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil
2 tbsps fresh-squeezed lemon juice
Salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste.

Wash cilantro thoroughly. Drain.
Place the cilantro, nuts and lemon juice in a food processor and pulse until smooth.
Gradually add the olive oil and continue processing.
Season and blend for a few seconds more.
(Serves 4-6)

Tropical Gazpacho with Cilantro
Adapted from “The Sugar Mill Caribbean Cookbook” by Jinx and Jefferson Morgan (Harvard Common Press, 1996).

This is a zesty version of the classic chilled no-cook soup that is sure to please. It’s a breeze to make and the addition of olives, colorful peppers, cilantro, and hot sauce definitely kick it up a notch.

6 medium tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
1/2 cup onions, chopped
1/2 cup green onions, chopped
4 celery ribs, chopped
2 cucumbers, peeled, seeded, and chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
6 cups tomato juice
1 cup sliced black olives
Salt and pepper to taste
Hot pepper sauce to taste
Vegan Worcestershire sauce to taste
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

In a blender, puree two-thirds of the tomatoes, onions, celery, cucumbers, and peppers.
Stir in the vinegar, tomato juice, olives, remaining chopped vegetables, and cilantro.
Season the soup with salt, pepper, hot sauce, and Worcestershire sauce.
Chill the soup until ready to serve.
Serves 10.

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Tracie Nall said...

My husband is always wanting ot try to grow herbs....I think that we might give this one a try. Thanks for the great info.

Jackie said...

Thanks for the visit tracie :)

There is so much great info on the web about growing herbs. Most are very simple to grow. I usually cheat and get them at the garden center. I have pots and pots of them as it is so nice to pick fresh ones as and when you need them.

Maritza said...

We use cilantro in making Cuban mojo which is used as a marinade and drizzled over most anything.

many cloves of garlic pounded into paste
finely chopped cilantro
finely chopped onions
olive oil
dash of vinegar
dash of salt of pepper

Drizzled this over fried plaintains or fried yucca. Yummy!

Jackie said...

Sounds wonderful maritza, will give it a try :)