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Embracing Cilantro

The lazy days of summer are ideal for the use of cilantro. Use mixed in salads, side dishes, (my favorite) guacamole, and as a garnish.

Cilantro, also known as coriander, is commonly used in recipes from Latin America, the Caribbean and Far East. The whole plant is edible, with the leaves and the seeds being utilized. The fresh leaves and the dried seeds are completely different in flavor and should not be substituted in recipes.

Cilantro aids the digestive system. Also considered an appetite stimulant. The essential oils of the cilantro leaves contain antibacterial properties and are an abundant source of Vitamin C.

Cilantro has avid supporters. There are the cooks whose avoidance may be explained in this interesting New York Times article. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/14/dining/14curious.html

With the variety of available recipes, cilantro's flavor is being embraced rather than scorned. Send in your favorites.

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Cilantro Sauce
Substitute lime juice for the vinegar

Use for everything from salads to meats

Adds brilliant color to your plate

½ c EVOO
¼ c red wine vinegar
1 garlic clove, minced
½ c roughly chopped fresh cilantro
¼ t kosher salt

Combine all ingredients ina food processor and puree until nearly smooth.  The sauce can be stored, covered in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

From Isabel’s Cantina Bold Latin Flavors from the New California Kitchen by Isabel Cruz.  Isabel is the owner of five restaurants along the west coast.  www.isabelscantina.com

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Cilantro Dressing
Cilantro helps with various digestive problems

Widely used in Asian and North African cooking

1 T finely chopped cilantro
1 ¼ c natural yogurt
Salt and pepper

From Vitality Foods for Health and Fitness by Pierre Jean Cousin and Kirsten Hartvig

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Cilantro Tabouli
Serve cold


2 ¼ c water
1 c bulgar wheat
2 tomatoes, chopped
2 green onions, sliced into thin slivers
¾ coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 lemons, juiced
 2 T olive oil
1 t ground cumin
½ t freshly cracked pepper

Bring water to a boil. Turn off heat and stir in bulgar wheat.  Cover and let sit for 30 minutes to absorb water.  Strain off any liquid left unabsorbed.
Place wheat in a large bowl and lightly toss with remaining ingredients.  Refrigerate the salad for 3 hours to blend the flavors.

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rice with peas and cilantro
Serves 4


1 c fresh cilantro leaves, stems reserved
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 t chili powder
coarse salt and pepper
1 c long grained rice
1 1/2 c water
1 lb fresh peas, shelled (1 1/2 c)

1. Tie the reserved stems with kitchen string. Heat oil in a medium pan over medium heat.
2. Cook the onion and garlic, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 8 minutes.
3. Add chili powder and and season with salt and pepper. Add rice and stir to coat.
4. Add the cilantro stem bundle and the water, bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, until the water is absorbed. About 15 minutes.
5. Remove from heat and add the peas, do not mix.
6. Cover and let stand for 10 minutes. Discard stem bundle
7. Season with salt and pepper.
8. Stir in cilantro leaves.

Martha Stewart Living. May 2010 www.marthastewart.com