Cilantro


Cilantro.  These small green leaves seem to invoke a love-hate relationship with many people.  In my home we are split on our feelings about cilantro. Surprisingly this guacamole was well received.  So why does this one herb cause so much trouble – according to Charles J. Wysocki of the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia some people are genetically predisposed to dislike the flavour of it. If you are a fan of cilantro here are a few ideas for your next meal.  Salsa is often the route that people recognize the use of cilantro but there are many other places that you will find this delicious herb.  Try replacing your basil with cilantro in your next batch of pesto, toss it into a creamy ginger, cilantro peanut dressing, or add it to your next batch of guacamole.

Cilantro Guacamole
2 garlic cloves
1 jalapeño pepper (remove seeds and ribs for less spice)
4 green onions
2 large ripe avocado
the zest and juice of one lime or lemon
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1 bunch of fresh cilantro leaves
1 tomato, diced small or 1/4 cup of salsa
Add the garlic, jalapeño and green onions to your food processor, giving it a few pulses to begin breaking them down into smaller pieces.  Add the remaining ingredients, except the tomato or salsa and pulse until a smooth and creamy guacamole forms.  Toss in the tomato or salsa and gently stir.  Enjoy! - From Sara's Be Nourished By Food Blog

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I'm a huge Jamie Oliver fan because although I appreciate the nutritional emphasis of his cooking, I appreciate even more the simplicity of his recipes and that he proves that real, good food can be made with simple ingredients in a short time (if necessary- slow food is good too!).  The rice recipe is his and as per usual, elevates a typically boring dish like rice, to new heights.  Good with most stir-fries, if I had had the ingredients for a Thai curry with coconut milk, it would have been my first choice for a companion.  This recipe is also good with Mexican dishes, as the lime brings the brightness I associate with the spices from that part of the world.

Anyway, if you weren't aware, I have recently take on the venture of a chicken CSA (there's still a couple shares left!), so I had some fresh tenders in the fridge that were in need of cooking and they were calling out to those glorious snow peas (that I feel I can appreciate since I helped picked them last year and know the feeling of seemingly hours of picking only to have the bottom of the trug barely covered).  So I made this quick chicken and snow pea stir-fry and served it over the Cilantro Lime rice. 


Cilantro Lime Rice  
(Basmati is my go-to rice, but you could use most any kind with this recipe.  The key to keeping the basmati from getting sticky is to resist the urge to stir it as it cooks, or while it's cooling.  Just trust that it will do it's thing.)
So, cook the rice. (Whatever quantity you like)
Chop up a big bunch of cilantro (again to your taste, whatever quantity suits you best)
2 limes (who keeps limes on hand!?  This is what the recipe calls for, but I always just use some good quality lime juice that I have in the fridge).  If you DO have limes, be sure to use the zest and the juice.  This can be a lot of juice, so start with one lime (or a glug of bottled juice) and add to your taste from there. 

...Add the cilantro and lime to the rice, drizzle over a glug of olive oil... and then season with salt and pepper as you see fit.

My stir-fry was pretty basic and quick (as stir-fries should be), but if you're looking for a nice, go-to home made sauce, this is an easy one:

1 tbsp. Bragg's soy seasoning (this is a great GMO-free alternative to regular soy sauce- find it in the natural section at the grocery store)
1-2 tsp arrowroot starch (typically this is cornstarch, but I don't trust the corn to be GMO-free so I've adapted my recipes to use arrowroot starch instead-also found in the natural section of the grocery store.  It's nearly the same as cornstarch, but can get a bit gelatinous if there's not enough liquid with it, or it heats too quickly.)
1 tbsp. sugar
3 tbsp. broth (or usually water, since WHO has 3 tbsp. of broth around!?)
If I have hot sauce, a dash of that could go in, but usually I just toss in a big pinch of red pepper flakes for some heat.  Cayenne pepper would work too.

Wisk that together and have ready to add to your stir-fry ingredients at the end of cooking.

The other two key ingredients are garlic and ginger (fresh or powdered), which should cook along with the ingredients from the start.

In mine, seen here, I had chicken, snow peas, red pepper, peanuts and walnuts.  Cooked the chicken first, set aside, very quickly sauteed veggies and then combined everything with the sauce.  Voila.  Not the BEST companion with the cilantro lime rice, but better than plain rice for sure.  - From Sally's Real Food Blog