Julia Child did not like arugula or cilantro. In an interview in 2002 with Larry King she indicated that they both taste rather dead to her and that she would pick them out of food and throw them on the floor.
Cilantro is polarizing as approximately 70% of the population like it and 30% say it tastes “soapy”. Many Mediterranean cuisines use it as a first preference instead of basil for pesto. The Portuguese use it by the handful.
I have steadily acquired an appreciation for pungent snipped cilantro on almost anything except oysters and ice cream. Interestingly, the roots are harvested for Asian cuisines. These roots are becoming more readily available in some parts of the US as people are discovering the unique flavor they infuse is as no other.
I was thrilled to discover lots of volunteer cilantro in my kitchen potager garden this spring . Now I have let it go to seed to become coriander seeds which I harvest to grind or use whole in pickling and brining recipes.
A new experiment for the indoor herb garden this winter will be to germinate some of those seeds so hopefully we will enjoy fresh cilantro year round. I just tried planting four seeds and viola! One lonesome little seedling has emerged. Maybe soaking the seeds longer before planting? We’ll see.
Having freshly picked tomatoes, fragrant sweet corn, (gotta love the smell of the corn while shucking), snappy bell peppers and having black beans on hand, I decided I was all set for a crazy salsa of some kind. This evolved into a southwestern refreshing salad. Celery, lovage, and upland cress leaves or yes, the elitist arugula could be used in place of cilantro
The simple vinaigrette complements summer fresh flavors that we gardening cooks dream about when we are reading seed catalogues in December. If making for a crowd, I would make two different batches, one with cilantro and another with a substitute ingredient. I don’t mind red wine on the tablecloth, but I don’t like picking up tiny green herbs from the floor.
Fresh Corn and Black Bean Southwestern Salad
2-3 cups of fresh corn, blanched and refreshed
1 medium chopped onion
1 bell pepper, finely chopped
1 medium green tomato or tomatillo, chopped
2-3 medium tomatoes, chopped
2 cups rinsed and drained black beans
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
Sea salt and pepper to taste
1-3 tablespoons finely snipped cilantro
Optional: dash of cayenne, chipotle, or some chopped jalapeno for heat.
Combine salad ingredients and whisk vinegar, olive oil, lime juice, salt and pepper to make a vinaigrette. The cilantro should be added after the above salad ingredients are combined and chilled. Cilantro loses its flavor rather quickly in a vinaigrette.
Toss again before serving. I would fill avocado halves for a quick “Meatless Monday” meal!