The Cilantro Chronicles
April is Homegrown Month at Tasting Table.
Cilantro is one of the most polarizing herbs in the produce section. Those who love it can't get enough of its spicy-yet-verdent flavor, and those who hate it complain bitterly about its soapy taste. But if you're one of the lucky ones who finds cilantro pleasing to the palate, you're probably ready for ways to use what's left of the bunch after making salsa or chimichurri sauce. Try these on for size:
Cilantro is a staple in Persian dishes, as is the traditional herb platter called sabzi khordan. According Louisa Shafia, author of The New Persian Kitchen, a small mountain of fresh herbs appears at nearly every meal. "It's basically an arrangement of fresh herbs—cilantro, mint and parsley—served alongside radishes, feta and lavash bread. Throughout the meal, you just tuck a little bit of everything on the platter into a piece of lavash, like a little sandwich," Shafia says. Set up a few platters with all the fixings as appetizers for your next dinner party.
All Kinds of Eggs
Another genius Persian invention for using extra cilantro is this stunning green kuku sabzi, a traditional New Year's dish that's akin to a frittata, with more herbs than eggs. If baked eggs aren't your style, throw cilantro into everything from breakfast tacos to a simple, perfectly executed scramble.
Banh Mi Builder
Cilantro is an integral part of Saigon-style banh mi, Andrea Nguyen, author of The Banh Mi Handbook: Recipes for Crazy-Delicious Vietnamese Sandwiches, says. "It finishes the sandwich with that pungent, herbaceous hit." Nguyen says. "You'll sometimes find rau rǎm, an even spicier green similar to cilantro that will leave your mouth burning." Throw a few sprigs straight onto the sandwich to add color and help cut through the rich filling.
Black Pepper Marinade
Don't dump those stems quite yet! Use them to make a marinade for grilled chicken, Nguyen suggests. Her favorite is a combination of cilantro stems, fish sauce, oil, brown sugar and freshly cracked black pepper. Blitz everything in your food processor, then rub it onto boneless, skinless chicken and let it sit for at least an hour before grilling. It's the perfect way to use every part of the herb.
Parsley might not be the herbaceous flavor you want in your mixed drink, but spicy cilantro is another story. The herb pairs well with all sorts of liquors, and in particular, tequila, which is why we love this Highland Cup, essentially a cilantro-and-tequila julep. If that isn't quite your speed, you can also try it in A Mexican's Last Word, which swaps the tequila for cilantro-infused gin.
Savory Herb Jam
Think of this as the ultimate fridge-cleaning technique for using up leftover herbs. Not only is herb jam versatile—you can use it on everything from toast to yogurt to stews—but you can vary the ingredients based on what you've been cooking with that week. With cilantro in the mix of this savory spread, along with garlic, tarragon and parsley, it's tough to go wrong.
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