Posts Tagged With: cilantro

Roasted Veggies with a hint of Pipian

Happy Thanksgiving week! Amy here, planning the menu with the cooking team, which is pretty much everyone in our family. It’s fun to mix it up and offer something interesting for the big meal, but it can’t stray too far… on Thursday.

A few years ago my sister and I spiced the veggies with a dusting with Mano Y Metate Pipian Picante powder and a splash of Alfonso olive oil before going into the screaming hot oven.

This was a Tucson CSA mix of small Red La Soda potatoes, Glendale Gold onions, a Beauregard Sweet Potato and cubes of this unknown winter squash. If I had carrots or mild turnips, I would have added them, too.

Pipian Picante is medium spicy, but for a mild dish, use Pipain Rojo. The two Pipian are nearly the same recipe, but Pipain Rojo is made with Santa Cruz Mild Chile from Tumacacori, Arizona, while Pipian Picante uses Santa Cruz Hot Chile. This chile is fruity and flavorful. It’s bright red in color and the flavor matches the color. Of all the varieties of mole powder that I make, these two are the only ones that use only one type of chile, because this chile is special enough to stand on its own. By the way, if you’re looking for a fun road trip to take out of town guests, the little Santa Cruz Chili and Spice Sore is fun and right across from the mission.

Both Pipian Rojo and Pipian Picante are made with lots of pepitas, or pumkin seeds, along with almonds and a few sesame seeds. It also features plenty of coriander (cilantro) seeds and canela, the soft, easy to break sticks of Ceylon cinnamon.

Sweet cinnamon, sweet chile, and evaporated cane juice in the Pipian go great with the beautiful winter squash that usually looks sweeter than it is. And the kick in the chile is great on the sweet onion and sweet potato. The finished dish is unquestionably savory and spicy. I hope you like it as much as we do. Add a sprig of rosemary from the garden if you have it, just for fun.

 

Now, for Friday after Thanksgiving, I recommend Enmoladas with Turkey. These are enchiladas made with mole instead of just chile. Please forgive the candlelit photo, but this is all I could take before it was devoured! For the recipe, go to my very first post on this blog, and substitute leftover turkey for the amaranth greens filling.

Thank you to my family that helped me sell mole at the Desert Botanical Garden and Tohono Chul, and my friends that helped me fill and label tins to prepare for the events. Mil Gracias.

Categories: Cooking, Edible Landscape Plant, heirloom crops, Heirloom pumpkins & squashes, herbs, Kino herb, Mexican Food, Sonoran Native, Southwest Food, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Corn to posole

20161120_153431

Do you love posole? Amy here today making posole from dry, untreated corn. What corn to use for posole? Flour corn varieties are good, as they have a large starch content. Also dent corn varieties, which contain some starch, dry unevenly on the cob and form an indentation in the top of the kernel. The dent corn I’m using today is sometimes called field corn, and it may have been grown to feed to livestock. I sometimes get dry corn, purple or white, from the bulk bins at the Mexican store. Use what you can find or grow and see what happens! This corn was a gift of completely unknown origin from my friend Lori.

20161120_154052

The ratio is 1 cup dry corn, 3 cups water and 1 tablespoon lime. Not lime, the citrus fruit, it is specially treated limestone. The best source for culinary calcium hydroxide is called cal sold with Mexican spices, or called pickling lime sold with canning supplies to keep pickles crisp. It is becoming rare since modern pickle recipes are more cautious of botulism growing in the less acidic environment. If necessary, type S (slaked) construction lime for concrete and mortar works, but you have to add more of it.

20161121_105421

20161120_154253

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Place all in a non reactive pan, simmer for a few minutes and then remove from the heat. If you are making posole, it is not critical if the corn starts to cook a bit. If the corn will be ground into tamales or tortillas, it will be gummy and not stick together well if cooked.

As soon as the corn is in the lime water, it turns bright yellow!

20161120_154644

Then let it soak overnight. I decided to boil some corn in plain water to compare the results.

20161121_080957

The next morning: On the right, the limed corn is much darker yellow color than the corn boiled and soaked overnight in fresh water, on the left. On the right the lime water, formerly white, is now yellow from the seed coats of the corn. The water in the pot on the left remains clear.

Drain the lime water and send to the sewer, not your plants! It is very alkaline and will harm the soil and plants.

20161121_082053

The lime turns the seed coats into slime. Now rinse, rub, rinse, rub, rinse.

20161121_082941

Now the rinsed, limed treated corn in the colander is a lighter yellow than the plain water boiled corn in my hand.

This is called nixtamal, and can be ground into masa for tamales or tortillas, or cooked into posole. I will make masa in another post.

You can purchase nixtamal ready to rinse at most grocery stores. After rinsing, it freezes beautifully. I have purchased it dry, whole or ground, but never dried it myself. I use it dry in the Mano Y Metate Mole powders to give body to the sauce.

20160918_120010

When the corn rinsing water is clear, boil in fresh salted water. Add chopped onion and a few cloves of garlic. Cooking times vary wildly depending on the batch, but at least an hour, until tender and the kernels burst open.

20161121_083914

The same corn after identical soaking and cooking times: the treated corn on the right blossomed to toothsome tenderness and has the characteristic posole aroma. I see some residual seed coat, but I do not notice when eating. On the left, the fresh water soaked and cooked corn has a few kernels that blossomed some, but is overall texture is hard with seed coats remaining in my mouth after chewing. It does not smell like posole.

20161121_115028

This reason alone would justify the nixtamal-ization process, but it also makes it more nutritious. The niacin present in corn becomes more available, the amino acid balance improves and the lime adds a digestible source of calcium.

To the pot you can add little red chile, green chile, cubes of pork, beef tripe, pinto beans, or sliced carrots. I added Mano Y Metate Pipian Picante Powder. Garnish with shredded cabbage, sliced radishes, cilantro, white or green onion or lime wedges.

20161121_170748_001

Categories: Cooking, heirloom crops, heirloom grains, Sonoran Native, Southwest Food | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Epazote and Garden Herbs Blend Into Delicious Mole Verde

This epazote plant has grown to over 6 feet.

This epazote plant has grown to over 6 feet. It was a volunteer in the lettuce bed and loved the rich soil.

Carolyn here this week. This spring I have had epazote sprouting between my tomato plants, epazote in the pea pots, epazote in the kale and in the I’itoi onions. I harvested the last of the chard today and there was an epazote plant hiding in that row. For fun, I left one in the lettuce patch and it has grown over 6 feet, thriving in the rich soil and organic inputs in that area. After taking a picture today, I’m going to pull it before it releases a couple thousand seeds and takes over my entire garden.

I bought my first epazote plant from a lovely Mexican woman at the farmer’s market. That one died, but I tried again the next fall. This time I was more successful and now I can supply epazote to anyone who needs it.

Healthy epazote plant earlier in the spring.

Healthy epazote plant earlier in the spring.

Epazote is a New World herb that originated in Central America and parts of Mexico and in the Nahuatl language is called epazo-tl. It has spread north to the U.S. and to the Caribbean. The scientific name was formerly Chenopodium ambrosoides but has been changed to Dysphania ambrosoides. Interestingly, it is related to quinoa, spinach and beets.

Epazote is used as an flavoring herb and its taste changes slightly as the plant ages. Chew on a leaf of a young plant and you will notice a light citrus-y flavor that starts on your tongue and spreads through your mouth. Leaves from older plants intensify the pine-y or eucalyptus flavor notes that underlie the citrus. Some say it tastes similar to tarragon.

In the Southwest, epazote is most frequently used in cooking black beans for flavor and also for its anti-gas effects. Add two or three sprigs during the last 15 minutes of cooking. If you have access to fresh epazote, feel free to try it in other dishes. A little chopped up in a corn relish adds a spritely flavor. If you make your own mole sauces, add a few leaves, particularly to a green mole. It also goes well in filling for tamales and sprinkled on the cheese in quesadillas

Another traditional use of epazote as developed by the native Mayans is as a tea, particularly as a remedy for intestinal parasites. Epazote includes 60-80 % ascaridole, which is toxic to several intestinal worms.

Herbs for Mole Verde from left: epazote, parsley, oregano, and cilantro.

Herbs for Mole Verde from left: epazote, parsley, oregano, and cilantro.

Here are the vegetables you will use: tomatillos, onion, garlic and jalapenos.

Here are the vegetables you will use: tomatillos, onion, garlic and jalapenos.

As with most leafy greens, epazote also provides some vitamins and minerals including vitamin A, B-complex vitamins (specifically folic acid) and vitamin C as well as calcium, manganese, copper,  potassium, phosphorous and zinc.

Mole Verde

Here’s a recipe for a delicious green mole with epazote. This is a chewy, substantial version due to the pepitas.  I served the sauce with sautéed chicken breast pieces and fresh nopalitos from my garden. Makes about 6 generous servings.

Ingredients

1 cup pepitas (hulled pumpkin seeds)

1 cup roughly chopped white onion (about 1 small)

1 tablespoon minced garlic (about 3 medium cloves)

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1/2 pound tomatillos, husked and cut in eighths (about 5 large)

2 medium jalapeño peppers, roughly chopped (seeds removed for a milder sauce)

1 cup packed coarsely chopped fresh cilantro leaves and tender stems

1/2 cup packed coarsely chopped fresh epazote

½ cup parsley leaves

2 tablespoons fresh oregano

2 cups low-sodium chicken stock, divided

Salt, to taste

Directions

Saute the onion, garlic, and tomatillos until soft.

Saute the onion, garlic, and tomatillos until soft.

  1. Prepare all your herbs first and set aside. In a medium heavy skillet over medium-high heat, toast pepitas until they start to pop and turn a light golden brown. Toss constantly so they won’t burn. Transfer to a blender and process until finely ground. You will have to stop the blender every few seconds to redistribute the contents.
  2. In a heavy saucepan, heat the oil and sauté the onion until it starts getting translucent. Add the garlic and cook another minute. Add the tomatillos and jalapeno and cook, stirring frequently until soft.
  3. Transfer the sautéed vegetables to the blender jar with the pepitas and the herbs. Add one cup of the chicken stock and puree until well combined. This may take a couple of minutes.
  4. Return the blended mixture to the saucepan and put it over medium heat. Meanwhile rinse the blender jar with the remaining cup of chicken broth and add to the pot. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes to let the herbs release their flavors and the flavors to blend. Stir frequently.
  5. Use immediately or transfer to an airtight container and store in refrigerator for up to 3 days, reheating before use.
Serve the sauce with chicken, fish, or vegetables.

Serve the sauce with chicken, fish, or vegetables.

_____________________________________________________

You can buy seeds for epazote from Native Seeds/SEARCH.   They also carry a selection of cookbooks by Carolyn Niethammer. The books are also available online from Amazon and Barnes&Noble.

Categories: Edible Landscape Plant, Gardening, herbs, Sonoran Native | Tags: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Pescado en Mole Verde, Spring Roots with Spicy Creamy Dip

053

Hello, Amy Valdés Schwemm here, celebrating spring with two recipes using Mano Y Metate Mole Verde.

Spring root vegetables are on the table now! Carrots and purple diakon from Tucson CSA/Crooked Sky Farms, baby onions, and Cylindra beets from the Breckenfelds are very tender. The purple daikon is so mild and the baby beets and carrots sweet, and all prettiest when fresh. I’m sure we’ll have humongous taproots later in the season that will need roasting or pureeing.

023029

I love creamy dips with crisp, raw veggies. My sister makes a spicy and creamy dip from Mole Verde powder and sour cream. Just mix the two ingredients to taste and refrigerate to let the flavors blend.

thanksgiving 2012 (2)

Common sour cream works beautifully for this dish, but I had milk to use up, so I made homemade cultured ricotta to use as the base.

021To make, gently heat any milk in a pot directly on the stove to almost boiling, add strained lemon juice a spoonful at a time, then stir and watch the tiny curds form and the whey turn translucent. (My milk was raw and apparently soured enough to form curds when heated without added acid.) Allow to cool to room temperature, add an envelope of “Bob and Ricki’s Sour Cream Culture” available in Tucson from Brew Your Own Brew.

Strain though a cloth napkin, incubate at room temperature for 24 hours (either hanging in the tied up cloth or in a covered dish). For a smooth texture, whip in a blender or food processor. Salt to taste and refrigerate.

When you add the Mole Verde powder to taste, it can be as spicy or mild as you like. Delicious on tacos or any savory dish where you would use Mexican crema.

 

 

 

Pescado en Mole Verde/Fish with Mole Verde

I’m waiting patiently for the tilapia to grow to harvestable size at a local school’s aquaponic system, so in the meantime, I purchase filets from the market. Simply oil both sides and bake for about 15 minutes at 400 degrees F. To make the sauce, put a couple tablespoons of chicken fat and one tin of Mole Verde powder in a saucepan, and stir until the paste is sizzling and fragrant. Add a cup of chicken broth and simmer until it thickens. (Any mild oil and broth can be used.) Pour over fish and return to the oven to keep warm.

001025
Mano Y Metate Mole Verde powder is only thickened with pumpkin seeds and sesame, where the other mole powders are thickened with organic corn tortilla meal and/or organic graham cracker in addition to other nuts and seeds. So Mole Verde makes a lighter sauce than the other moles, perfect for spring. It is spicy from roasted green Hatch chiles and jalapeno. The herbal notes are from parsley, cilantro and epazote. See Jacqueline’s excellent posts about each of those herbs.

014

Serve with plain rice, corn tortillas, and lettuce drizzled with lime juice. I had an anxious tester that doesn’t eat dairy, but I sometimes I add creama and a melty cheese to the sauce, reminiscent of Mariscos Chihuahua’s famous Filete Culichi.

krik

Have a good spring and enjoy the weather and wildflowers, and I’ll be back here in May.

Amy

ManoYMetate.com

 

Categories: Cooking, herbs | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Versatile Tomatillo Salsa

Salsa Verde is the perfect addition to a tostada.

Salsa Verde is the perfect addition to a tostada.

When I was interviewing chefs for my book The New Southwest Cookbook back in 2005, tomatillos were the vegetable du jour — every chef had them on the menu, usually “blackened” or roasted to heighten the flavor.  I gained new respect for how versatile they are.

I planted six tomatillo plants in August and hoped for a plentiful harvest, I even dreamed about making enough green salsa to can or freeze. Alas, my homegrown tomatillos were so tiny they weren’t worth the trouble and I ended up buying tomatillos grown by a farmer who had a better technique.

My homegrown tomatillos next to commercial

My homegrown tomatillos next to commercial

In Mexico the tomatillo is called tomate verde, which means “green tomato.” However, tomatillos are not just small, underripe tomatoes, but a distinct vegetable in their own right. Tomatillos are the size of an apricot and covered with a papery husk. They are meatier and less juicy inside than a tomato.  Tomatillos are an essential part of Mexican cuisine and have been since the Aztecs domesticated them. Most tomatillos are harvested slightly underripe when then have a tart, slightly lemony flavor that adds zip to salsas.  As they fully ripen they turn more golden and become sweeter.

Tomatillos are the main ingredient in the classic salsa verde which includes tomatillos, sliced green onions, green chiles of some variety, garlic and cilantro.  Salsa verde can be served raw or very lightly cooked. Of course, you can always put your own spin on salsa verde by using the herbs you have fresh in your garden.

To prepare tomatillos, remove the husk and rinse off the stickly substance on the skin. Rub them with a little oil and then put them under the broiler until they are soft and just slightly brown.

Roast the tomatillos until soft.

Roast the tomatillos until soft.

I love the flavor of poblano chiles in anything, so I roasted a couple of those while the tomatillos were cooling.  When their skins were charred on all sides, I put them in a paper bag to sweat for about 10 minutes (OK, 5 minutes, I was impatient).  This makes them easy to peel.  Also take off the stem and the seeds.

Nicely charred poblano chiles.

Nicely charred poblano chiles.

Next it is time to get creative.  Put your tomatillos, skin and all into the blender with some sliced green onions, some peeled garlic cloves, and the peeled chiles. If you want a little more heat, add a half or whole jalapeno, chopped. (And of course you remember to use gloves while chopping the jalapeno and don’t touch your eyes.)  Add some chopped cilantro. I had some lovely fresh basil, so I added that as well. Blend well until you have a nice smooth consistency.  The chef at Medizona, a top Scottsdale restaurant, added a little apple juice to mellow out the tartness.

 

Blend together tomatillos, chiles, onions, garlic and herbs.

Blend together tomatillos, chiles, onions, garlic and herbs.

So now you have this wonderful salsa.  How to use it?  Try it on tacos or tostadas (photo top of post) or as a sauce for chicken, pork chops or even shrimp.

Salsa Verde on broiled chicken.

Salsa Verde on broiled chicken.

Charboiled Tomatillo Sauce from Medizona

Feel free to vary the amounts in this recipe.  As they say, “for reference only.”

1/4 pound tomatillos

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 poblano chiles

1/2 jalapeno (optional)

3 green onions, sliced

1/2 cup chopped cilantro leaves

5 cloves garlic, peeled

1/4 cup apple juice

Salt and pepper to taste.

1. Remove husks from tomatillos, wash and rub with oil. Put under boiler until soft and slightly browned. Let cool.

2. Broil or grill poblano chiles until all sides are charred. Sweat in paperbag until skins remove easily. Peel and deseed.

3. Combine all ingredients in a blender and whirl until smooth.  If using on hot food, heat in a saucepan before serving.

 

And just for fun, here’s a garnish tip I learned from Chef Janos Wilder. Carefully loosen the husk from tomatillos, peel them back and you have a lovely flower. They are a great addition to a cheese plate or relish tray for a party.

IMG_0130____________________________

For more great Southwestern recipes using local ingredients or fruits and vegetables from the wild, check out my cookbooks Cooking the Wild Southwest (University of Arizona), The Prickly Pear Cookbook (Rio Nuevo Press), or The New Southwest Cookbook (Rio Nuevo Press). 

 

Categories: Cooking, Sonoran Native, Southwest Food | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Soup Weather: Adobo Mixed Veggie Stew

013 Hello, this is Amy. I always love a bowl of hot soup, but especially when evenings are cool. We’ve been camping in the yard this week with our new dog, Leila and eating lots of soup. I have many basic templates and here is one of the easiest. Adobo powder really brings together the disparate characters in the veggie drawer. The entire CSA share in one big pot!A1 tin

Adobo refers to many different things around the world. It comes from the word adobar, to marinate. Made into a sauce (especially with vinegar) or used dry, it does make an excellent marinade. Mano Y Metate Adobo is made with Santa Cruz Chili, hot. This is very special chile from Tumacacori, Arizona. That bright red color! I pair that with a little chile ancho for depth. Sesame seed and organic corn tortilla meal give the finished soup or sauce some body. Cumin and Mexican oregano are two of the standout spices, with cloves and Mexican cinnamon in the background. Five flavors: spicy chile, the little bit of ancho has a hint of bitter, plenty of salt and evaporated cane juice for balance. All that’s missing is sour from a lime wedge squeezed into the bowl.

A2 pdr

To make a soup, put a tin of Adobo powder and a few tablespoons of oil in a soup pot.

A3 paste

Cook over medium heat until it turns a shade darker in color and smells fragrant.

a4diced veg

I have listed below some of the specific vegetables I used simply because I love them. Use what you have and love. Fresh or leftover meat is a great addition. Every single ingredient in this recipe is optional.

a5add veggies

Add the longer cooking veggies and stir to prevent sticking. Before it burns, add a quart of water or broth. When making Adobo into a sauce, I insist upon using broth. However, for this soup water works fine.

a6blue posole

Add the quicker cooking veggies as inspired, including precooked posole or beans, if using. I cook the posole and beans separately to ensure that they cook thoroughly but not at the expense of overcooking the tender veggies.

a7 soup cooking

When everything is tender, salt to taste. Garnish with lime wedges, avocado, thinly sliced white or green onion and cilantro.

Ingredients:

Mano Y Metate Adobo Powder
Cooking oil, like mild olive
Water or broth
Summer squash (zucchini, patty pan)
Winter squash (Delicata)
Potatoes (Red LaSoda, Yukon Gold, Purple)
Sweet Potato (Beauregard)
Sweet peppers (various colors and shapes)
Chiles (roasted and peeled, or diced and sautéed in oil first)
Tomatillo
Onion (red)
Garlic
Blue posole (heirloom dry posole available from NS/S or Flor de Mayo. The Savor Sisters promise at least one post soon about traditional posole.)
White Tepary Beans
Salt
Lime wedges, green onion, avocado and cilantro for garnish

Mac and Leila

Mac and Leila

Categories: Cooking, herbs, Southwest Food | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Parsley

Petroselinum crispum flat leaf parsley

Flat leaf parsley grows well in the winter garden here in the middle desert regions of the Southwest.

Special for Savor the Southwest October 2014 by Jacqueline A. Soule, Ph.D.

Ever notice that restaurants often provide a sprig of fresh parsley on each dinner plate? They may not even know why, but it is a holdover from Victorian times and parsley’s reputed value as a digestive aid. Most diners avoid this strongly flavored green, but they shouldn’t! It may well be the most nutritious thing on the plate! Rich in vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6 B9 (folate), C, and K as well as the minerals calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium and zinc. Parsley also helps the body in manganese absorption, a mineral important in building and maintaining healthy bones.

Petroselinum crispum salad

In Europe, salads may consist of parsley, onion and tomato, lacking the salad greens often seen in American salads.

Parsley is one of those plants that is easy to add to the garden, or even just a pot on the patio. And now is the time to plant them! First – there are several parsleys to choose from. Curly leaf parsley (Petroselinum crispum) or flat leaf parsley (P. neopolitanum), and popular for stews, parsley root (P. crispum var. tuberosum). All of these forms of parsley are members of the Carrot Family.   [[By the way, cilantro is als in the same family and can be grown just like parsley.]]

 

Petroselinum crispum var tuberosum root

One variety of parsley is grown for it’s root – tasty in stews and can be stored for months in a root cellar.

Soil. All carrot kin grow best in a well drained, even sandy, slightly acidic soil, rich in organic matter. That makes them easy to grow in containers. Use a pot one and a half feet deep. Potting soil with some added sand makes a good growing media.

Petroselinum crispum IMG_1371

Just a few plants of parsley can be enough so you don’t need a giant package of seeds.

Light. Six or more hours of winter sun to do well.

Plant. Parsley can be bought as a seedling from a nursery or grown from seed. One or two plants are usually enough for most families so seedlings might be a better option.

Water. Keep the soil relatively moist during establishment. You can let parsley dry a little more between water once they get larger. Some people believe this makes their flavors stronger.

Fertilizer. Parsley gets very lush and full with some fertilizer. However, if you amended your soil at the start you don’t need to purchase fertilizer. Plus, avoid fertilizing anything when frosts are a possibility. Come late February you could apply a half strength general purpose fertilizer.

Petroselinum neopolitanum curley parsley_PA_08

Curly leaf parsley grows well in the arid Southwest.

Harvest and Storage. Parsley tastes wonderful when fresh but loses much flavor when dried. Freezing the leaves retains more flavor. Select healthy leaves, rinse, pat dry but leave some moisture. Chop into roughly quarter inch squares and freeze in a labeled plastic bag or yogurt container. This can be used directly from the freezer.

Petroselinum_neapolitanum_flower

If you let your parsley flower, it should attract butterflies to your garden. Plus you will then get seeds to plant next year.

Not only does parsley look pretty on the plate and in the garden, it also attracts winged wildlife. Indeed, one species of swallowtail butterfly use parsley as a host plant for their larvae. Caterpillar are black and green striped with yellow dots, and will feast upon parsley for a brief two weeks before turning into lovely butterflies. Along with butterflies, bees visit the blooms. Seed eaters such as the lesser goldfinch also adore the seed. I let some parsley develop flowers and go to seed each year so the animals can enjoy it once I am done harvesting the leaves. And I save some seeds for replanting.

Petroselinum crispum seed crop

Do save some seed for next year. The best thing to plant in your garden is seed of what did well in your garden!

 

 

Note:  Jacqueline A. Soule has been writing about plants and growing in Tucson for decades. Her latest book “Southwest Fruit and Vegetable Gardening” (Cool Springs Press $22.99) is available at local bookstores and botanical gardens. (Call first though, some venues have been selling out.)

If you wish to receive timely tips for garden and landscape each week, Jacqueline produces weekly “tidbitts” available at: http://www.tidbitts.com/jacqueline-a-soule/gardening-with-soule

© 2014, Jacqueline Soule.  All rights reserved. I have received many requests to reprint my work. My policy is that you are free to use a very short excerpt which must give proper credit to the author, and must include a link back to the original post on our site. Please use the contact me if you have any questions. JAS avatar

Categories: Cooking, Gardening, herbs, medicinal plant | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Savory Cilantro

Coriander_fresh

Cilantro is easily grown in our area in the cool winter months.

Jacqueline Soule posting today on a great herb to start growing now.

Most folks think of cilantro as the quintessential Mexican herb, but it isn’t from Mexico. Cilantro is also called Chinese parsley, but it’s not from China either. The seeds of cilantro go by the name coriander, and are a popular flavor in French sauces, and now we are getting closer. Originally from southern Europe, cilantro (Coriandrum sativum) has been carried around the globe by its fans, and has made itself popular in many regional cuisines.

Say “cilantro” here in the Southwest, and most folks think of salsa. And while cilantro can get along with the heat of chilies in salsa, it quickly dies with the heat of a summer day. Therefore you will want to grow this herb in the cool winter months.

Hate the taste of cilantro? You are not alone. Scientists agree that there appears to be a genetic component to cilantro taste preference. Those that enjoy the herb find it pungent and tangy, those that don’t like it often say it tastes soapy. It’s your genes, and both experiences are equally valid.

Cilantro has been used for millennia as a culinary and medicinal herb. An infusion of coriander seed is said to soothe upset stomach, aid indigestion, as a carminative against flatulence, and was reputed to be an aphrodisiac. It was prized in Father Kino’s time as an ingredient in herbal vinegar used to preserve meat.

Planting and Care.
Cilantro is a cool season crop, and is best planted in our area in September. It should grow through the winter and into April before starting to flower, also called bolting. Leaves are more flavorful before bolting. Once bolting begins, reconcile yourself to the fact that you will soon have ample coriander seed, plus seed to plant next year. Harvest the seed if you want it, because otherwise the lesser goldfinch and doves will clean it all up.

Coriander_fruit_001

Coriander “seed” are technically a single seeded fruit with a dry papery husk. (Only a botanist would care!) The papery husk can be removed or left when using this herb.

Like many members of the parsley family, cilantro is a tad fussy about growing conditions. Virtually every member of this family grows best in a well-drained, sandy, slightly acidic soil, rich in organic matter. The good news is that this makes them easy to grow in containers. Use a container a foot or more deep. Potting soil with some added sand makes a good growing media.

Cilantro is best grown from seed, because like many members of the parsley family, it does not transplant well. Seeds require darkness to germinate, thus the recommended depth is 1/2 inch deep. Cilantro can also be bought as a seedling from a nursery but be careful not to damage the roots when transplanting it.

Cilantro does best with six or more hours of winter sun. Mature plants can take frost to around 20oF, so cover if a harder frost is expected.

Keep the soil relatively moist during establishment. You can let cilantro dry a little more between watering once the plants get larger. Some people believe this makes their flavors stronger.

coriandrum_sativum_bundle

Cilantro roots look like tiny carrots, and are eaten in some cultures.

Cilantro gets very lush and full with some fertilizer. However, if you amended your soil at the start you don’t need to add fertilizer. Plus, avoid fertilizing anything when frosts are a possibility. Come late February you could apply a half-strength general purpose fertilizer.

Cilantro is considered a good companion plant to anise and potatoes.

Cilantro could be justified as a garden plant if only for the job it does in attracting pollinators to the garden. Bees enjoy the nectar-rich flowers and the resulting coriander honey is prized for its flavor.

Coriandrum_sativum_flower_008

Coriander flowers are wonderful to attract pollinators to the garden.

The seed provides the culinary herb coriander, and I harvest a great deal of it, but I also like to leave some stalks with seed behind so that flocks of lesser goldfinch will grace my garden with their bright bodies and cheerful chatter.

Harvest and Use.
Cilantro leaves tastes great when fresh but lose much flavor when dried. Freezing the leaves retains more flavor. Select healthy leaves, rinse, pat dry but leave some moisture. Chop into roughly quarter inch squares and freeze in a labeled plastic bag or other container. Use directly from the freezer.

coriandrum_sativum_on_talapia

Cilantro chopped and sprinkled over freshly cooked tilapia.

The seeds, used as coriander, should be harvested after they begin to turn brown and when outer coat cracks, but before they drop off the plant and scatter. Cut the stem below the seed heads and place the whole thing into a paper sack to dry. To clean the seed, rub them gently to remove the outer shell. Many people skip this step.

 

Note: You can read more about growing cilantro in my latest book “Southwest Fruit & Vegetable Gardening” (2014, Cool Springs Press, $23). I hope you will consider purchasing a copy locally at Antigone Books, Arizona Experience Store, or Rillito Nursery. Or buy from me in person (autographed copy!) after one of my next free talks for the Pima County Libraries. More at http://www.library.pima.gov/

 

Photos copyright free and courtesy of Wikimedia.  Article © 2014, Jacqueline Soule.  All rights reserved. I have received many requests to reprint my work. My policy is that you are free to use a very short excerpt which must give proper credit to the author, and must include a link back to the original post on our site. Please use the contact me if you have any questions. JAS avatar

Categories: Beekeeping, Cooking, Gardening, Sonoran herb, Sonoran Medicinal, Southwest Food | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Blog at WordPress.com.