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Cilantro relish. May 7, 2012

Posted by ourfriendben in recipes.
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Silence Dogood here. Cilantro is one of those love-it-or-hate-it foods. Some people (including me and our friend Ben) just can’t get enough of it. Others find its undeniably soapy flavor revolting.

If you’re a cilantro fan, you might want to try this recipe for cilantro relish that I discovered just in time for our Cinco de Mayo fiesta. The original recipe is in Edward Espe Brown’s Tomato Blessings and Radish Teachings (Riverhead Books, 1997), but it called for two minced shallots and wouldn’t you know, as we raced around doing our gardening and pre-fiesta errands, our local grocery didn’t even have shallots, and there wasn’t time to head off to another store. Yikes! I briefly considered abandoning the project, but my heart was set on it, so I decided to substitute half a Vidalia onion.

Ed Brown’s version also calls for an entire bunch of cilantro. No doubt bunches vary in size from place to place, but the ones our store sells are big, so I ended up using half a bunch and putting the other half in the refried beans.

He minces the cilantro, and says if you don’t want to mince it by hand, cut it in 1-inch pieces and mince it in the food processor. Easy for him to say! He has a razor-sharp Japanese vegetable knife, and doubtless just rocks it down the tightly compressed bunch of cilantro to mince it. I use a small, serrated Victorinox knife for my cutting (fondly known by its fans as a “little Vicky”), so hand-mincing something like cilantro isn’t going to happen. And I cook by hand, so a food processor isn’t going to happen, either.

If you make his version, you’ll get 3/4 to 1 cup of cilantro relish. The way I did it made enough to fill a large individual soup or salad bowl—a lot more than I’d expected, given the ingredients! Here’s what I did:

                 Cilantro Relish

1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped

1/2 Vidalia onion, diced

1 clove garlic, smashed, peeled and minced

2 tablespoons lemon juice

generous dash of salt (we like Real Salt)

generous grind of black pepper

pinch of sugar (this wouldn’t have occurred to me, but Ed Brown’s recipe called for it, so I thought, let’s try it and see what happens)

I combined all the ingredients, stirred well, and refrigerated until fiesta time, when I stirred again before setting the relish out. Of all the toppings for our refried-bean tacos I set out, the cilantro relish was the only one that completely disappeared. So now we have all these yummy leftovers and no cilantro relish! Fortunately, I bought a second bunch of cilantro.

             ‘Til next time,




1. amaya73 - May 7, 2012

I ♥ cilantro!!

Me too!!! And it self-sows for us in the garden (if you let plants set seed, which can also be harvested green or dried as coriander), so it acts a perennial. Plus, it’s one of the first things up in spring. Can’t beat that!

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