Cilantro--you either love it or you hate it, and here at the Tomato Estate we haven't a clue how the latter is even remotely possible.
We first discovered the herb in a favorite childhood restaurant, floating about in their Chinese Green Soup, a gentle broth dressed with bok choy and shredded chicken. Sometimes it is called Chinese parsley or fresh coriander leaf. We crave it...and even more so since leaving California for New York where it's shockingly a.w.o.l. from even Mexican dishes.
In fairness, we present the opinion of the Other Side: Cilantro Haters. I Hate Cilantro.com boasts over 1300 members and growing, some of whom liken the flavor to doll hair, soap, or stink bugs. They wax poetic with their disdain--in haikus, even, such as this one by "Jag":
"a soup, delicious
i spy skulking floating flakes
bleach is for washing".
Point taken. We would never thought of comparing cilantro and stink bugs, but the name "coriander" may actually come from the Greek "koris", which means "bedbug". Some believe the two items share an odor. Cilantro-disgust is thought to occur because of enzymes only certain people have, due to simple genetics, that alter the herb's flavor.
Cilantro's origins are in China, Egypt, India and Southeast Europe. The Spanish conquistadors introduced it, along with ethnic cleansing, to Mexico and Peru, where both things flourished. The herb has antibacterial properties and is said to combat fungi, aid digestion, function as a diuretic, stimulate the sexual and food appetites, and draw unwanted metals out of the body. Both leaf and stem are equally beneficial and flavorful.
This pesto does not contain cheese, making it suitable for vegans and omnivores alike. Use it swirled in soup, spread on a sandwich wrap or soft tacos, drizzled on goat cheese, or tossed with cherry tomato halves.
2 cloves fresh garlic
1 small peeled shallot
1/2 cup raw pine nuts
1 large bunch cilantro, well washed
2 Tbsp. sherry vinegar
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
seasalt and freshly ground pepper to taste
In a food processor or really strong blender, drop the garlic and shallot in while the blade is running. Add the pinenuts. Turn off and add the cilantro, roughly chopped, and the vinegar. Process until chopped, then, with the blade running, add the olive oil in a stream. Add salt and pepper to taste. Store in fridge, lasts a couple of weeks if sealed properly. Makes about 1-1/4 cups.