It has been two weeks now since I set up the indoor garden in my sunniest south-facing window, and all of the fast germinators have shown their soft green sprouts. The slower ones, namely parsley, rosemary, and oregano are still hiding beneath the soil, but it is expected to be another week before they come up.
A new arrival since the last update is the cilantro. Though it sprouted a few days after the basil, chives, and arugula, it has caught up fast, and is almost an inch tall already. The hardy seeds also boast 100 percent germination, with most seeds producing a double stem.
Cilantro is one of my very favorite herbs, adding a punch of freshness in dishes from Thai coconut soup to Mexican pico de gallo. Often it is that magical mystery ingredient that gives a dish its amazing blend of flavors. Following are some suggestions for how to use your cilantro as it grows to add citrus zing to food.
Cilantro is best fresh-picked and uncooked. Add a few pretty leaves to the first layer of homemade tofu summer rolls, and they will show through the thin rice-paper wrappers from the outside, giving a hint of the flavors within. Rice paper can be found in the foreign food aisle of most Boulder markets, and of course, at the Pacific Ocean Market in Broomfield. Fill your rolls with rice vermicelli, carrots, cooked tofu and bean sprouts.
This herb makes a great garnish for soups. It tastes especially nice with ginger, lemongrass, and garlic, and punches up mellow sweet notes. Consider garnishing a ginger-carrot soup with some coconut cream and a sprinkle of cilantro for both a beautiful color contrast and an added dimension in flavor.
Blend cilantro with cream cheese (or homemade farmer's cheese) and some chopped chili or dried chili flakes and use it as a spicy spread for crackers, bagels, or toasted bread.
Cilantro, unlike arugula, is not a 'cut and come again' plant. Once harvested, it will not regrow leaves. Thus it is best to sow in two-week increments to ensure a continuous harvest. After you try these recipes, you will need as much of it as you can get.
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