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Seasonal Produce: Cilantro

Also called Chinese parsley and fresh coriander, cilantro is an annual herb widely used in Mexican, Asian and Caribbean cooking. Once considered exotic, it’s now sold in most supermarkets and is a popular seasoning. Cilantro has bright green leaves and stems that resemble flat-leaf parsley. Those who enjoy its assertive flavor, which goes well with spicy foods, describe it as having hints of citrus and sage, while others find it soapy tasting.

Available year-round, cilantro is also easily grown in the garden, producing seeds that are the spice, coriander. Sprinkle whole or chopped leaves over a variety of dishes for a flavorful garnish.

Purchasing

  • Select cilantro bunches that are brightly colored with fresh, fragrant leaves. To make sure you’re not buying a bunch of parsley, give it a quick sniff to check for its distinctive aroma.
  • Avoid bunches with wilted, yellowed or blackened leaves.
  • Like most fresh herbs, cilantro is very perishable. For short-term storage, refrigerate in a resealable plastic bag with 2 to 3 layers of paper towels for several days.
  • For longer storage, place the cilantro bunch in a container of water like a bouquet of flowers. Cover the top loosely with a plastic bag. Refrigerate up to 1 week, changing the water in the container every 2 days.

Preparing

  • Wash cilantro just before using and blot dry with paper towels.
  • When chopping cilantro, make sure the leaves are well dried to prevent them from sticking to the knife or scissor blades. To chop, use a chef’s knife on a cutting board. Or, place leaves in a glass measuring cup or small bowl and cut into small pieces with kitchen scissors, using short quick snips.
  • Cilantro tastes best when used fresh and added near the end of the cooking time. It loses flavor when dried or exposed to heat.

Nutrition

  • A good source of Vitamin A and C

Serving

  • Enhance the appearance and flavor of your favorite Mexican dishes—nachos, guacamole, enchiladas, tacos, burritos—by garnishing them with whole or chopped cilantro leaves.
  • Add a burst of fresh herbal taste to TACO BELL HOME ORIGINALS Thick ‘N Chunky Salsa by stirring in chopped cilantro.
  • Sprinkle chopped cilantro over your favorite stir-fry, satay, jerk chicken, southwest and curry dishes for authentic seasoning.
  • Bump up the taste and eye appeal of side dishes, such as vegetable salads and rice, by mixing in a handful of chopped cilantro.
  • Give spicy dishes, such as chili, a refreshing dash of cilantro just before serving.
  • Blend chopped cilantro into softened butter, then melt over ears of hot cooked corn or other cooked vegetables.
  • Substitute fresh cilantro for parsley in any recipe where cilantro’s distinctive flavor is desired.
Cilantro
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