The citrusy flavor of cilantro is a must in Mexican cuisine. That's why you'll find this pungent herb growing in backyard "salsa gardens." It also plays a lively role in Chinese cooking.
A member of the parsley family, cilantro is sometimes referred to as Mexican or Chinese parsley. It's also called coriander because it comes from the coriander plant. Cilantro makes up the stems and leaves of the plant, while the plant's seeds are ground into the spice known as coriander.
Cilantro is sold in bunches like parsley. Leaves should have a bright even color and show no signs of wilting. Be sure to wash and pat dry the leaves before using.
The strong-tasting herb can be mixed into dressings, dips and sauces. It also makes a fun garnish for salads. When cooking, add the leaves during the last 10 minutes for best flavor.
Try out cilantro on your taste buds with one of these recipes.
These quick-fix "pizzas" make a great meal or after-school snack, says Brigitte Raven from Greenfield, Indiana. She spreads tortillas with a cilantro pesto, then tops them with chicken, cheese, tomatoes and olives.
"I made this eye-catching salad for my parents' 50th anniversary party and everyone enjoyed it," says Mary VanLangendon of Green Bay, Wisconsin. The cilantro dressing adds pizzazz to layers of egg, avocado and veggies.
This chunky fresh-tasting dip, shared by Wendy Prevost of Cody, Wyoming, gets a little kick from hot pepper sauce.