Cooking with cilantro, corriander

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Believe it or not, I still have a little bit of cilantro hanging on in my garden. My other herbs have given up and I even chopped down my droopy sage this past weekend so I can cover the herb bed with hay before it drops into the teens later this week.
As I was trimming the sage and chives back, I noticed some green leaves still filling the cilantro area of the raised bed. I couldn’t believe it. We’ve had several frosts already. Some of the leaves are looking a little brown but not all, which I was excited about.

Cilantro is an herb with a very bold taste, that I can only describe as fresh and summery. It adds so much to any dish in which it is used.

One obvious use for cilantro is in salsa. Whether making fresh or using canned salsa, the fresh cilantro adds a burst of flavor. Chopping up a little fresh cilantro and adding it to a jar of salsa before serving is a nice addition.

Another recipe recently shared with me by Janell Jessup was for Mexican Pot Roast. It’s a delicious and unique way to eat pot roast, and a great way to incorporate cilantro into a meal. I used dried cilantro, but I think fresh would be best if you have it available. Unlike all other herbs, cilantro seems to lose some flavor when dried, causing me to use a large amount of dried cilantro to get enough flavor – at least for me.

Another option for cilantro is to let the plants go to seed, then collect those and let them hang in a paper bag until the seeds dry and start to fall off. This produces coriander, which also has a cilantro-like flavor and stores well. Just grind it up and add it to your recipe.

Until next time, happy garden-fresh eating!

Mexican Pork Roast

Chopped peppers and onions (you can use the frozen combo package from Dillons or whatever you have frozen from your garden)
1 pork roast (about 3 pounds)
1 16 oz. jar salsa
1 bunch of cilantro

Layer onions and peppers on bottom of slow cooker. Set roast on top. Top roast with salsa and chopped cilantro. Cover and cook on low 6-8 hours or high 3-4 hours. When the roast is fall-apart tender, remove it, shred and mix back into the salsa, peppers and onions. Serve over Mexican rice or in a tortilla with cheese and sour cream, top with toppings of your choice, ie: shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, black onions, etc.
~ recipe submitted by Janell Jessup

Julie Clements is a Butler County Master Gardener.
Share your ideas for garden-fresh recipes or ways to preserve at julieclements75@gmail.com and some will be featured in upcoming columns.

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