Organic Emily

Growing and Using Herbs: Cilantro

cilantro

There aren’t too many things that are better than fresh homemade salsa with cilantro form the garden!  It also has some amazing health benefits too!   This is a picture I took back in May from cilantro seeds I grew last fall.  It had only come up maybe an inch before the weather got cold and the days became shorter and stopped growing.  As the snow covered the ground during the winter it helped to insulate the little cilantro leaves just enough to protect it from the hard cold temperatures we had.

 

 

Cilantro is known for being an effective toxic metal cleanser! It is a powerful herb with natural cleansing properties. The chemical compounds in cilantro bind to toxic metals and loosen them from the tissue. Many people suffering from mercury exposure report a reduction in re-occurring feelings of disorientation after consuming large and regular amounts of cilantro over an extended period. Make sure the cilantro you use is organic, otherwise it may have already pulled those toxins into the plant!  The best way to know for sure is to grow it yourself or buy from a reliable organic source!  Cilantro also has strong antioxidant properties, has been known to aid in improving sleep and also has very strong anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties.

 

 

I often get the question, “How can I make my cilantro last a little longer in the garden? It always seems to bolt quickly.”  It can bolt quickly, especially when the temperatures become warmer.  I plant my cilantro seeds (coriander) every two weeks so I am constantly harvesting throughout the growing season. It also reseeds itself very easily if you let it flower and allow the flowers to dry and produce seed.  The seeds you sow in the spring will produce more seed from mature plants.  As they drop to the ground you may find new little cilantro plants start to come up in the fall and even the following spring.  Cilantro grows well in rich, well draining soil and does not like to be removed once it has been planted either by direct seed or transplanting.  It prefers full sun, but will grow in some shade too.  Sow the seeds 1/2″ deep and thin every 4-6 inches.  When using cilantro for cooking, use the young leaves that are broad and shiny.  They tend to be less bitter and add incredible flavor to many dishes!  Here are a few of my favorite recipes using cilantro!

 

Ingredients for guacomole

Fresh Guacomole

Recipe:

This homemade guacamole is so good, you may find that after one taste, there won’t be any left to share with others!  This is one of our family favorites and it is so good for you!
4 medium or 3 large ripe avocados, smashed
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
2 serrano peppers, seeded and minced (add more seeds later to increase heat)
2 limes, juiced
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
Mix all ingredients together in a medium size bowl and serve with organic corn chips or on a whole grain tortilla!  Delicious!
Southwest Black Bean Salad
A delicious and refreshing salad!  A great addition to any meal!

Recipe:

8 cups shredded red leaf lettuce (1-2 heads)
2 cups cooked or canned black beans, rinsed and drained
2 cups bite-sized sweet red pepper strips
2 cups frozen or fresh corn kernals
1/4 cup cilantro (about 1 bunch)
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup organic canola oil
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Combine in large bowl the lettuce, beans, peppers, corn kernels and cilantro.
For dressing combine the remaining ingredients listed in a tightly sealed jar or Tupperware bowl and shake until mixed well.  Drizzle over salad.  Eat immediately.
Southwest Quinoa Salad
Perfect for lunch or a side for dinner!  This super healthy and delicious recipe is so simple!  I got it out of one of my favorite recipe books called, “Quinoa, The Everyday Super Food”.

Recipe:

2 cups water
1 cup quinoa, uncooked
1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
4 tsp. apple cider vinegar
2 1/2 tsp. ground cumin1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
1 1/4 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed
1 chopped red bell pepper
1 (15oz.) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 avocado,s chopped
sea salt and pepper to taste
Cook quinoa with the water in a rice cooker or on the stove like you would rice.  While that is cooking. mix together the olive oil, lime juice and vinegar in a small bowl.  Once the quinoa has finished cooking and has slightly cooled, place the dressing over the quinoa in a large bowl and allow the warm quinoa to infuse the flavors.  Chop and add the rest of the ingredients to the quinoa and check to see if more salt and pepper is needed.  Can be kept in an airtight container for up to 3 days in the fridge.

Emily Saddler

Emily is a Master Gardener, wife of a professional landscape contractor, Mom of 4 cute kids, Yoga instructor and very passionate advocate of organic home-grown food! Emily maintains a blog called “The Organic Suburban Farm Girl” where she shares gardening advice, delicious recipes made with fresh, organic ingredients and her escapades as the keeper of both backyard chickens and honeybees!

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