Some people love it. Others say it tastes like soap. Cilantro, Culantro or Chinese Coriander or just plain Coriander Leaf is an herb I love to have in our winter garden. It resembles parsley and many cuisines use it to balance the flavor of hot, spicy and acid. It has flavors of lemon, pine and sage in its leaves and stems. It is used medicinally as well as in the culinary world.
Dried Coriander seeds have a milder taste and are lemonier than its leaves. Cilantro bolts or goes to seed quickly if the weather warms so you can harvest the greens and then allow the plant to flower and gift you with seed.
Fresh coriander root tastes nuttier than the seed and can also be harvested and added to spicy protein dishes such as gumbos, jambalayas and stews.
Therefore, all parts of the Coriander plant are edible and in all stages of its life. This is a very useful and invaluable herb evidently.
Next time you make a Pico de Gallo, salsa, hummus, spicy dish or a salad, sprinkle one to two teaspoons of chopped up leaves and relish the garnish and notice how it pumps up the flavor.
If you live in Southern CA, now is a good time to plant a small specimen or two outdoors (it does fine in a pot) and enjoy snipping off tasty additions to your meals.
A quick, easy and low fat/calorie cilantro pesto to use over fish, in a sandwich or atop a soup:
1 cup packed fresh cilantro
4 scallions or green onions, chopped
1 clove garlic, mashed
2 tablespoons rice or white wine vinegar
3 tablespoons pumpkin seeds
Whir it all together in a blender or food processor till you have a coarse paste.
Add a Serrano chili and pick up the heat or substitute the seeds with peanuts. Experiment.
Little known facts:
This herb was introduced to China about 600AD.
It is listed among the medicinal plants mentioned in the Papyrus of Thebes, written in 1552 BC!!!!!!