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Chef Rachel Albert’s Tips for Celebrating Cilantro & Greening Your Diet

Books,Condiments,Health Tips,Herbs & Spices

Cilantro is one of those foods people seem to love or hate – no in between. I love adding  it to vinaigrettes, dips, and marinades. It’s a super nutritious food with many healing properties. Cilantro is a great source of phytonutrients and antioxidants, such as quercetin. It also contains iron, magnesium and manganese. It also contains antibacterial and antiviral compounds, helps fight inflammation, and has been shown to help with heavy metal detoxification.

6a00e552ad01da8834019b024ef7f6970c-320wiA couple of months ago I made Tammy Credicott’s recipe for Thai Chicken Drumsticks from her new book, Make Ahead Paleo. I made the recipes twice with two variations. Once with twice as much cilantro and the second time doing that and pureeing the marinade rather than pulsing it in the food processor.

The result is this luscious green sauce (photo right) that looks so fresh and inviting. After baking, the chicken doesn’t look as pretty. My photo doesn’t do the dish justice, even though the friend I shared it with loved the flavor.

This is just one example of how a small change in a recipe can make a bit difference in the look and taste of a dish. It’s also a great example of how you can use up extra cilantro (or parsley) by pureeing it into a salad dressing, sauce, or marinade! Try it. I think you’ll like the results.

6a00e552ad01da8834019b024fee58970d-200wiI often makethe Practically Paleo Pesto (from my book) with cilantro and sometimes I puree cilantro (or parsley) into my very easy vinaigrette. The recipe below is a variation on the basic vinaigrette or lemonette recipe in my book, The Garden Of Eating: A Produce Dominated Diet and Cookbook by Rachel Albert & Don Matesz (Planetary Press, 2004).

Chef Rachel Albert’s Cilantro Vinaigrette  

Prep: 10 minutes/ Yield: 1 cup; 6 servings

Making your own salad dressing is easier than you might think. With a blender you can do it in less than 10 minutes. This is an easy twist on my basic vinaigrette. It’s a great way to use up extra cilantro. Make a single or double batch, depending upon how many people you’re feeding. You’ll enjoy a higher quality product than what you can buy in stores and you’ll save money.

The same recipe works with other fresh herbs, such as parsley, basil, or chives. Not just for tossed salads, this dressing tastes great with parboiled vegetables.

FYI: Always use unrefined, virgin-pressed oils sold in dark bottles. Olive oil dressing thickens in the refrigerator. Store it in the side door or remove the bottle 15 to 20 minutes before serving to allow it to liquefy.  Adding mustard to the dressing helps emulsify the oil and keep it from separating. I prefer a smooth mustard rather than a grainy one. Use whichever you prefer.

Ingredients:
1/4 cup vinegar: dark or white balsamic vinegar, red wine vinegar, (unseasoned) rice vinegar, or raw apple cider vinegar
1/4 teaspoon ground black or white pepper, or to taste
1 tablespoon raw, local honey, optional (double if desired)
1 small to medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed, about 1/2 to 1 teaspoon
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil, avocado oil, walnut oil, or flax oil or combination of 2 or oils
1 shallot, optional
1 handful (1/4 to ½ cup) fresh cilantro
2/3 to 1 tablespoon Dijon, creamy white, or yellow mustard, optional
1/4 teaspoon finely ground, unrefined sea salt (Celtic, Himalayan, or Redmond Real Salt)
1 tablespoon warm water

  • Combine all of the ingredients except the water in blender or small food processor. Cover and puree. With machine running, add 1 tablespoon warm water and blend until smooth.
  • Taste, adjust as needed, pour into small jar, cover, and refrigerate or serve.
  • Use within 2 weeks for best flavor.

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