Saturday, September 19, 2009

Seasonal Cilantro




Just as the Fall planting of cilantro starts to look good, the tomato harvest starts to dwindle. I spoke with someone last weekend who was very disappointed (and I am sure she is not alone in this!) that the two crops peaked in different seasons, partly because she didn’t really know what to do with her cilantro after the tomatoes were gone; her favorite way to use cilantro is in salsa.

At our house, as Fall progresses and the tomatoes become less abundant, we switch from using cilantro in salsa to using cilantro with cabbage, another Fall crop, to make what we call Costa Rican cole slaw. We don’t do a whole lot of traveling, but Costa Rica is one place we’ve been. While we were there, at almost every meal, a salad a lot like this (sometimes it included a little diced tomato) was served. I am pretty sure that in Costa Rica this salad has a different name, but this one works for us. The salad isn’t hard to make:

2 cups shredded cabbage
at least 3 tablespoons of finely chopped fresh cilantro (the hardest part of the recipe is chopping the cilantro)
2 teaspoons lemon juice (lime will also do, if that is what you have handy—if using Meyer lemons you might need a bit more)
2 teaspoons olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Mix all together and serve soon; the cabbage gets a bit wilty if it is left too long.

Of course, we also use cilantro in just about every Mexican-style meal that we make, and it also goes into those Thai(or Japanese)-style fresh Spring Rolls, for as long as the cilantro holds out.

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