Cilantro/coriander doesn’t grow well here in the summer heat but it thrives in winter, unfazed by freezing temperatures. Now that spring has arrived the coriander plants which grew all winter are bolting in the process of going to seed and reproducing.
These plants came up on their own from seeds dropped by last year’s plants.
Harvested cilantro doesn’t stay fresh very long unless it is placed in a container of water, and I don’t have enough refrigerator or counter space for that. These two plants were more than I could use before they would spoil so I decided to make a cilantro flavor concentrate.
Surprisingly I was able to pack all the leaves and tender stems into a small blender jar. To the cilantro I added white balsamic vinegar for its preservative quality and to facilitate blending.
This can be stored in the refrigerator for two or three weeks and possibly longer. Small amounts of it can be added to salsas, guacamole or anything one might wish to flavor with cilantro. Some separation will take place. Simply stir before using.
It could also be strained as I did with this batch which I froze for later use.
Here are a few ways I have used the cilantro preparation:
I added it to puréed black beans along with ground cumin and chili powder.
Something tomato-y would be good. Tomato sauce, tomato paste or even ketchup would have worked, but there was an open jar of pizza sauce.
The black bean preparation was spread onto a corn tortilla in a heated skillet, and green onions were scattered on top.
Freshly picked arugula and sliced cherry tomatoes were enough to make this a delicious meal — no cheese necessary.
On another occasion I mixed a little cilantro concentrate with avocado for a sandwich with wild violet leaves and tomato.
The cleavers growing alongside the violets are also edible if one can tolerate the Velcro-like hairs.
The coleslaw we had for this midday meal was flavored with cilantro. I simply mixed a little of the concentrate with a store-bought coleslaw dressing and tossed the sliced cabbage with it. Other ingredients in the slaw were pineapple, currants and a few deli Sweety Drop peppers scattered on top for color and flavor.
Also on the plate were oven roasted corn and steamed asparagus from the garden with lemon caper sauce.
There wasn’t any cilantro flavor in the lemon caper sauce but I’ll tell you what was in it anyway:
- all purpose flour
- nutritional yeast flakes
- lemon juice
- agave nectar
- caper powder
- white pepper
- pinch of turmeric for color