Family: Apiaceae (or Umbelliferae), commonly known as carrot or parsley family
Leaves are called cilantro and the seed is called coriander. They can’t be used interchangeably. Cilantro has a flavor profile that is citrusy and “green”. And if you use too much, it tastes like soap! That’s why I think some people don’t like cilantro. We use cilantro in Asian, Middle Eastern, Indian and Southwestern dishes. The stems of cilantro are always tender enough to use, and the root is very strong flavored and used in Asian and Indian dishes.
Coriander is the seed of the plant and has a lemony taste. I use it in marinades, with poultry, and with root vegetables.
Cilantro does best in cooler, sunny weather, and the funny thing about cilantro is that it can’t be pinched back a lot like, say, basil, as it doesn’t recover. Plant it in now in early spring and then make successive plantings every few weeks for a continual harvest. The leaves start out nice and large, like flat leaf parsley, but lacier, then they get smaller and smaller and wind up almost fern like as the plant begins to flower and then goes to seed.
You can also plant the seeds in the fall – just sprinkle them with soil and let them sleep all winter long. They’ll be among the first herbs to sprout in the spring.
Cilantro contains calcium and will help remove heavy metals, like lead, from the body. It contains antioxidants and leaves have antibacterial activity against Salmonella. It is good for helping blood sugar stabilization and coriander seeds were found in a study to help lower cholesterol and triglycerides.
Carol’s Chicken Diablo
From best friend Carol Spry Vanover, who loves good food with a healthy twist. Here’s my adaptation:
1 can cream of mushroom soup, regular or low fat
1 cup salsa
1 teaspoon cumin
2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breast halves
1 (14 oz.) can quartered artichoke hearts, drained
1 (2 1/4 oz.) can sliced black olives, drained
Salt and pepper
Fresh cilantro to taste
Mix soup, salsa and cumin. Put chicken in spayed 9×13 baking dish. Bake at 3500 for 20 minutes. Arrange artichoke around chicken. Pour soup mixture over top, sprinkle with olives. Bake 20 to 30 minutes, until chicken is done, no longer pink in center. Season to taste and sprinkle with cilantro. Carol says: “A very tasty side dish is any Mexican style rice. I usually cook the rice in chicken broth and add typical Mexican flavorings and black beans.”
Tips from Rita’s garden:
Santo has high leaf production and is very slow bolting. Glory has strong aromatic flavor, great in salsas, grows well in warmer areas. Delfino has leaves that look like dill, is slow to bolt, and is very flavorful.
Rita Nader Heikenfeld, CCP, CMH, is a Certified Culinary Professional and Certfied Modern Herbalist, educator, author, founding editor of www.Abouteating.com
a popular website that showcases her many interests in healthy living.